I have held a few titles and have been called many things, but just recently I was labeled the “VBS Answer Man” on the cover of the Nov./Dec. KidzMatter magazine. This is the Gospel Issue and also the issue where they present the 2015 VBS Showcase, detailing the many Vacation Bible School offerings from all the publishers. I had the privilege of writing an article for this issue, Choosing the “Best” VBS. If you have a chance, check it out and let me know if it was helpful. I love this issue and KidzMatter magazine. They are on the cutting edge of children’s ministry and genuinely seek to answer the questions and needs of leaders who give themselves to ministry with kids.
I am not sure what you think of when you read “VBS Answer Man.” My first thought is that people will come to me with every hard-to-answer question and expect me to be the ultimate expert on all things VBS. Let me just tell you up front, I am not. However, I am not without some credentials as it relates to Vacation Bible School and summer ministries. I’ve helped lead Vacation Bible Schools and talked with VBS leaders for years.
In my role as National Director for eChurchDepot, it is my privilege to immerse myself in many of the major VBS programs from Gospel Light, Standard and Group, as well as Concordia, Cokesbury, Regular Baptist Press and more. Each year I take a kit from each publisher, open it up and dive in – reading materials, watching DVDs, listening to music, and playing with all the great stuff. Sounds fun, huh?
As I examine each of the Starter Kits, Super Starter Kits or Power Paks in their shaped boxes, plastic suitcases or tin cans, I am really looking for some specifics. Here is a list of what I am looking for:
What’s new? – I want to know what’s new this year with each program. Sometimes the changes are small, but sometimes they are a big deal, like when Bible Memory Buddies were introduced. This is where I begin taking notes.
Has the kit changed? – I want to know what’s changed with the kit. If the price has gone down, is something not included this year? Have they added some new bonus items? Anymore, these kits are not just little samplers, but they include many of the core items used with the program. If there are changes, I want and need to know.
What’s different? – This may be my favorite question, because I am really asking, “What is distinctive; what sets this VBS apart from all the others.” Some distinctives relate to the publisher, and some are specific to this year’s theme, teaching, and tools to make it successful.
In my position, I work hard to bring a unique perspective, not just repeat what is in a catalog or on a webpage. Diving into the kits lets me put together some helpful information about each publisher’s Vacation Bible School program, which I will use to compare and contrast all of this year’s 2015 VBS curricula.
I am not trying to identify the best. I know all of them will be used successfully to reach kids all across the country this summer. I am just preparing myself to be available to answer questions and provide some unique, helpful information to assist VBS directors and leaders to sort through all the great Vacation Bible School programs and find the one that fits their kids and their leaders.
If there is one additional reason I may be able to help you as the VBS Answer Man, it is because I have a passion to come alongside Kidmin and VBS leaders and help in any way I can. If you are looking into any of the 2015 VBS programs below, feel free to email or call me. I’ll be happy to chat and to share all my observations with you.
– John Tietsort, VBS Answer Man
2015 VBS Programs and Publishers
- Everest -Group
- Thailand Trek – Group
- Hometown Nazareth – Group
- Bible Blast to the Past – Standard
- SonSpark Labs – Gospel Light
- G-Force – Cokesbury
- To The Edge – Regular Baptist Press
- Camp Discovery – Concordia
- Camp Kilimanjaro – Answers in Genesis