NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–More than 1,300 people had an Arctic Adventure without leaving the Southeastern United States.
LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention hosted two Vacation Bible School preview events, Jan. 20-21 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., and Feb. 3-4 at the Nashville-area Brentwood Baptist Church.
The previews showcased both of LifeWay’s 2006 lines of VBS materials — “VBS: The Arctic Edge: Where Adventure Meets Courage” and “Club VBS: Space Quest – Exploring My Mission with Jesus.”
The previews were designed to give local church VBS leaders and workers a “sneak peek” at the resources, decorations and music for VBS 2006, building excitement for their own churches’ VBS weeks.
More than 150 of the nearly 750 participants at the Tennessee event attended a session on preparing for family night, the time when the parents and families join the children attending VBS as they present their music and show what they have made and learned during their week of VBS.
Amy Stewart, a VBS leader from Pleasant Heights Baptist Church in Indianapolis, said family night is an important event because of the evangelistic/outreach opportunities.
“At our church, we get the children all pumped up on family night,” Steward said. “They are excited to sing their songs and show their families all they’ve learned. After the performance, we ask the parents if they would be willing to bring the children back on Sunday morning so the children can present their music again to the whole church. Most of the parents will do this, so we get to make another contact with them and they get to see what our church is like.”
VBS preview participants were able to see rooms decorated with the Arctic-themed materials like inflatable moose and puffins, offering ideas on how to do their own decorations. Many of the VBS decorations were available for purchase at the event so participants could take them back to show co-workers.
Denise Coats, children’s minister at Woodmont Baptist Church in Florence, Ala., brought two of her VBS leaders with her to the event and said she believed the Arctic theme would be fun to use in Alabama in the summer. “I can just see us doing something like ice fishing or dogsleds in Florence! The children will love it.”
Children from the Nashville-area Clearview Baptist Church in Franklin, directed by Jennie Ross, performed the VBS musical for preview participants at both locations. The musical, once again written by Jeff Slaughter, includes five songs that carry out the theme of trusting God for the courage to share the Gospel. The musical’s setting is an adventure trek camp in the forests of Alaska. The characters -– four children and two adults -– trek out from the base camp to experience different adventures each day.
Jimmy and Pam Crider, VBS leaders from Foxworthy Baptist Church in San Jose, Calif., made their own cross-country trek for the preview. “I really like the music this year,” Pam Crider said. “I especially like ‘I Know That I Know.’ I think our kids will enjoy it.”
The Criders said their church does a good job reaching “churched kids” in their area, but they were looking for some ideas on how to reach the “unchurched kids.” Both agreed what they learned was worth the trip.
After all the fun of the musical, Becky Martin, VBS ministry specialist at LifeWay, reminded the participants that VBS is a lot of work. “There’s no need to do all this hard work if we’re only going to see these kids one week of their lives. We want VBS to be a real investment in the lives of these children and their families. The decorations don’t mean anything if the children don’t learn about Jesus.”
About 750 representatives of state Baptist conventions attended two earlier Vacation Bible School Institutes at LifeWay Glorieta (N.M.) and LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) conference centers on Jan. 13-14 and 20-21, respectively.
These leaders returned to their respective states to train associational VBS leaders, who then train VBS leaders from their local churches. These training events are important because of the “ripple effect” they have, Martin noted.
“Last year, because of the ripple effect of training [at the VBS institutes], more than 86,000 people were trained to lead Vacation Bible School in our churches,” Martin said, emphasizing that the vast training opportunities set the LifeWay-produced VBS apart from other VBS choices.
5 quick facts about VBS 2006
— May 21 is National Day of Prayer for VBS 2006. Encourage pastors to preach emphasizing the value of VBS, and recognize all leaders who will work with VBS.
— LifeWay offers two options for VBS 2006: “The Arctic Edge: Where Adventure Meets Courage,” a study of six people from the Bible who showed courage, and “Club VBS: Space Quest – Exploring My Mission with Jesus,” five studies about Jesus and people who related to Him.
— VBS enthusiasts can go to www.lifeway.com/yourvbs and sign up for the e-newsletter, get periodic updates, ideas and more.
— VBS Tools Online can be renewed and is available for new church subscribers. Additional features are available as a result of suggestions from 2005 subscribers.
— VBS 2006 also has resources for adults, youth and special education classes.