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VBS previews build momentum for key church outreach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Nearly 2,000 Vacation Bible School leaders are more prepared than ever before for this year’s outreach thanks to VBS previews featuring a new interactive expo.

VBS Expo allowed attendees at four VBS previews to be among the first to see all the resources available for churches to use at their Vacation Bible Schools, to meet some of the people who work on the VBS material and to make the crafts and snacks for themselves.

“Game Day Central: Where Heroes are Made!” is the theme for VBS that most churches will use this summer. It is designed for babies through adults, and it includes a track for children and adults with special needs. The theme can be adapted for churches of any size and is available in English and Spanish.

“Club VBS: Jungle Jaunt” is the theme for VBS that is sometimes called “VBS in a Box.” The resource is designed for smaller churches, mission trips, backyard Bible clubs or any other group of up to 40 children and 10 preschoolers. Everything necessary for a complete VBS is included in one box.

LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention sponsored the previews Jan. 12-13 at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, N.M.; Jan. 19-20 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C.; and Feb. 1-2 and Feb. 2-3 at LifeWay in Nashville, Tenn.

In the expo component of each preview, participants went through the different VBS age group rotations for each theme, including music, missions, crafts and recreation/snacks, while learning from some of the best VBS leaders from LifeWay, state conventions and local churches.

“It’s so much fun and I’ve learned so much I can take back and share with the other VBS workers at my church,” said Teresa Bond from Bethel Baptist Church in Newton, Ala. “My daughter and I have been looking forward to coming since we signed up in October.”

Tee Bradley from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tenn., said his group sent him over to do the crafts.

“I’m making some of everything. If I like it, the kids will like it. And I like it. I’ve made a whole bunch of things to take home,” Bradley said.

Mary Katharine Hunt, LifeWay’s director of childhood ministry, said the event provided VBS leaders with “hands-on experience with the materials they will be using in their own churches this summer [to help them] begin coming up with their own ideas.”

“We encouraged them to bring their cameras,” Hunt added, “and take pictures of the displays so they can take home ideas of what they can do themselves.”

Jeff Slaughter, VBS music writer for the past 11 years, taught workers the new songs and movements that convey so much of what the kids remember.

“I want the kids to have fun with this music,” Slaughter said. “If they have fun, they won’t forget. They remember what they sing. I want to teach them the full range of a relationship with Christ; that Christ wants to control every piece of who they are. I want to plant some deep roots in their hearts.”

Children from First Baptist Church in Smyrna, Tenn., under the direction of Angeline Hale, presented the Game Day Central musical and drama.

Arlene Bronson from West Harpeth Primitive Baptist Church in Franklin, Tenn., said all the music she heard at the preview made a positive impression on her, especially the preschool music.

“I love it that the children are learning sign language along with the music,” Bronson said. “They remember that.”

The preview made her more excited to teach Vacation Bible School, she said.

“I just can’t wait,” Bronson said. “I wish Bible School were next week.”

Vacation Bible School is the most common evangelistic outreach among churches, according to data from Ellison Research published in the January/February edition of LifeWay’s Facts & Trends magazine. According to a representative sample of 811 Protestant senior pastors nationwide, 68 percent of their churches utilized VBS in the previous year.
For more information about Vacation Bible School, visit www.lifeway.com/vbs.

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  • Polly House