NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When it comes to Vacation Bible School, organizers are doing the math. Especially multiplication.
With this summer’s “Ramblin’ Road Trip” coming up, a record 380-plus VBS leaders from state Baptist conventions made their own road trip to LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 13-14 to learn how to train groups from associations and churches in their states in using LifeWay’s 2005 VBS resources.
Another 300 traveled to LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, N.M., Jan. 20-21 for similar training.
The next step — multiplication of leaders – already has begun, with 540 people joining state leaders for the first preview/training event open to church and associational leaders Jan. 14-15 in Nashville. The following week, 160 attended the preview at Glorieta.
They came at their own expense to get an early start in learning about this year’s options. They experienced the Ramblin’ Road Trip children’s musical and attended conferences related to the various jobs VBS workers do in their home churches, along with other conferences on how to promote VBS, enlist workers, explain the ABCs of salvation and plan a successful family night celebration. Participants could also choose to attend an introduction to LifeWay’s new Club VBS Beach Blast materials.
Last year, more than 86,000 local church VBS workers benefited from the state VBS leaders’ experience, often through state-led associational VBS training teams after the initial Nashville and Glorieta events.
Three state leaders have been recognized for the results of their work in last year’s training. Sue Rother led Georgia to increase the number of leaders receiving VBS training from 2,000 to 7,700, while Wendy Deaver led an increase in Kentucky from 1,300 to 3,000. James Blakeney of Alabama led in the training of more than 11,000 workers, marking six consecutive years of more than 10,000 people trained by associational teams who initially had been trained by Blakeney’s state team. In Canada, Kathy Morales led in the doubling workers there.
The Ramblin’ Road Trip-themed VBS will take children, youth and adults through Bible studies about making choices related to worship, thankfulness, salvation, belief and obedience. Participants, via the VBS curriculum, will travel west across the United States, with stops in Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Lebanon, Kan. (the geographical center of the country); and Yellowstone National Park. The trip will culminate at Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California.
Along the way, the participants learn that the choices they make daily affect their entire journey. By choosing God as their guide, they are sure to arrive at the ultimate destination — a relationship with Jesus.
This year’s motto is “Show me! Teach me! Guide me!” drawn from Psalm 25:4-5, “Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation” (Holman CSB).
LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. has called VBS “the single most important evangelistic outreach for our churches.” According to the latest figures available, more than 3.2 million children, youth and adults were enrolled in VBS in 2003. Of those, 104,208 made public decisions to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, while churches added nearly 320,000 people to their Sunday School prospect rolls.
New for 2005 is a second VBS theme, “Club VBS Beach Blast,” described by LifeWay VBS ministry specialist Becky Martin as “VBS in a box.”
The Beach Blast option comes with everything churches need to do VBS for up to 50 children. Club VBS features an easy-to-implement, two-hour schedule, curriculum for babies through the sixth grade, accessories and year-round adaptability for spring or fall break or as a one-night-a-week class for 10 weeks during the summer. Scripture references in Beach Blast are translation-neutral, so churches can choose any translation.
Martin said Beach Blast was created in response to a need expressed by a number of churches.
“We had so many churches asking us for a second VBS line,” she said. “Some churches told us that they didn’t do VBS until August and, by then, all the other churches in town had already done our VBS and they needed something different.”
National training for state teams in 2006 VBS will be at Glorieta Jan. 12-14 and at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., Jan. 19-21. Watch www.lifeway.com/yourvbs for announcements and updates.