Clinic Prepares Leaders for Their Best VBS

By Sharon Mager

MIDDLETOWN, Md. — “Your registration form is very important,” Charles Kirkland told a group of March 13 Vacation Bible School (VBS) Clinic attendees at Skycroft Conference Center.

(l-r) Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church Associate Pastor Dylan Ruby and Ann Klapka, wife of Senior Pastor Dan Klapka, take a moment to chat with Kris Buckman (photo by Sharon Mager).

Kirkland, a deacon at First Baptist Church of Mt. Rainier in Maryland, lead the session on VBS promotion and said that not only does the card provide value information for follow-up, but you can also ask people how they heard about the VBS, allowing you to maximize your

future promotional activity. Kirkland was one of seven presenters who shared their VBS experience with leaders.

Keith Benning’s session  was the most “hands-on.” Participants were able to see the LifeWay decorations and props. Benning demonstrated using a flashlight to discover hidden treasures in VBS books and shared how to use index cards to build houses, using stickers to help hold them together.

Kris Buckman (l) and Barbara Smythe, from Mars Hill Baptist Church, discuss VBS curriculum (photo by Sharon Mager).

Deborah Heath, a member of Grace Baptist Church in Cumberland, Maryland, gave practical hints for hosting Backyard Bible Clubs or outdoor VBS classes, as well as Guiding Behavior. Heath told her group that in some instances, rather than having individual grades, churches may consider utilizing fewer teachers — perhaps one for preschool, one for elementary. “Older kids can help the younger,” she shared. Heath also gave tips on bringing Bible stories to life.

VBS veteran leader Keith Benning demonstrates how to use a flashlight to light up hidden treasures in a book (photo by Sharon Mager).

Allison Fournier, who serves as a board member of The Banquet Network and children’s ministry director at The Church at Severn Run, led a breakout on special needs and fielded many questions. One participant asked about using “fidget spinners” to keep kids engaged during lessons.

Kristin Hassed, of Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church, checks out the VBS display table (photo by Sharon Mager).

Fournier suggested that if so, leaders should give spinners to all of the children. Fournier also recommended using Silly Putty to help some kids concentrate. Other topics included ministry to parents affected by special needs, either by encouraging them to help or providing a respite; dealing with toileting concerns; and how to delicately discover if a family needs assistance regarding a special need.

Charles Kirkland, from First Baptist Church of Mt. Rainier, addresses a breakout group regarding VBS promotion and follow-up (photo by Sharon Mager).

Representatives from over 15 churches attended the clinic. In addition to the training, participants enjoyed a fellowship lunch — an opportunity to make new friends and share fresh ideas.

If you missed the March 13 clinic, mark your calendar for the next session at Allen Memorial Baptist Church in Salisbury, Maryland, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 10.  Additionally, virtual training will be available on March 23 and April 27, at 2 and 7 p.m. and will cover promotion and follow-up and VBS on a budget.

While some of the information provided at the in-person and online material focuses on LifeWay’s 2021 “Destination Dig” curriculum, the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) Children and Youth Ministry Consultant Kris Buckman, who is organizing the VBS events, emphasizes that the training tools can be applied to any VBS program.

Visit the BCM/D’s website for registration and more information. The website also has VBS training videos specifically designed for last year’s “Concrete and Cranes” curriculum. Buckman explained that many churches which bought the material were unable to use it due to COVID-19 restrictions.

For more information, contact Kris Buckman.

Cover photo by Keith Benning