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RESOURCE: VBS Tools Online updated

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–People around the country are turning their thoughts toward warmer weather, spring break vacations, Easter dresses and … Vacation Bible School?

Summer may be a few months away, but already churches and individuals are deeply involved in VBS training and planning. At LifeWay Christian Resources, one result of the work that began months ago is the updated and further-enhanced version of the VBS Tools Online resource.

The website is designed to help churches and volunteers manage the planning, implementation and follow-up processes that go into a successful VBS outreach.

“This is one of the best resources we’ve come up with to meet a need in the church,” said Bethany Webster, Internet producer in LifeWay’s childhood ministry publishing area. “It’s cost-effective, convenient and extremely helpful.”

Since LifeWay first unveiled VBS Tools Online in 2005, Webster said the resource’s designers have sought feedback from customers and listened to their requests in order to enhance the program each year.

Webster said that one well-received past enhancement to VBS Tools Online was the ability to create custom registration forms, which allowed churches to gather information tailored to their individual needs, such as T-shirt sizes and child pick-up authorization.

The 2008 version of VBS Tools Online expands upon that enhancement by allowing churches to print the customized registration forms. Webster explained that this feature enables individuals registering by paper to fill out the exact same form as those who register online. This enhancement is helpful for churches wanting to include registration forms in their bulletins or mail-outs, Webster said.

Joelle Yates, a seven-year VBS volunteer at her Houston-area church, began using VBS Tools Online to manage Vacation Bible School in 2006.

“I love using this program,” said Yates, whose church welcomed about 450 students to VBS in summer 2007. She said their VBS team appreciated the capability to customize the forms and then view lists of particular registrants, such as those with food allergies.

“They [students] all come through the snack lines in groups,” Yates explained. “Teachers were able to print lists of students with allergies so they knew who could and could not eat the snack.

“VBS Tools Online just makes it very simple, even for someone who isn’t computer-savvy, to go in and get the data they need,” Yates said.

A key feature of VBS Tools Online is that VBS coordinators can import registration information from 2007 into the 2008 system. Another enhancement to VBS Tools Online this year optimizes that feature and simplifies the registration process for people who have registered through the program during previous years.

Webster cautioned coordinators that in order to import information from previous years, they will need to purchase this year’s version with the same coordinator’s user name and password.
Brooklyn Noel is a corporate communications specialist with LifeWay Christian Resources. For more information about VBS Tools Online, or to purchase the resource, go to LifeWay.com/VBS.

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  • Brooklyn Noel