Win a Rocket Pack Jack Party!

BlogRPJwhitlock-4Everybody loves a good giveaway, right?? Well, this week we’re giving away a Rocket Pack Jack Party! We’d like to offer an idea for your follow-up events after VBS. Here’s the plan: print off personalized invitations (designed by us), pass out to all of your kids as they leave VBS on Day 5, let your Rocket Pack Jack Stand-Up help promote the event, and finally, host a family movie night with Rocket Pack Jack and the Babylon Virus! Hopefully a movie night will be attractive to all of the unchurched families in your area!

Here’s how you enter:

1. Follow the link below to our LifeWay VBS Facebook page.

2. Look for the picture promoting the Rocket Pack Jack Party.

3. Comment on the picture with how many years you’ve served in VBS.

We will randomly select a winner on Friday, May 16th. Best of luck, agents!

Click here to enter.

We Will Sing

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cristy3“We will sing, we will shout, tell the news of His salvation.”
(lyrics from VBS 2014 Music Book)

This is exactly what First Baptist Church of Mt. Vernon, TX is doing with their time leading up to this year’s VBS. They’re uncovering the truth of Jesus Christ and preparing to share the evidence with their community! Each year, FBC performs a seamlessly choreographed, beautifully acted, winsome musical to go along with VBS. Laughter and warm hearts are a tradition as a packed house watches rambunctious, fun-loving kids sing about hope in Christ.

FBC is using LifeWay’s VBS 2014 Music Book as a guide for the drama, but with over 75 kids wanting stage-time, they adapted the play to include more speaking roles. They transformed the 7 speaking parts into 35 roles! Furthermore, FBC added 22 special dancers to perform choreographed dances that were not included in the original song choreography. Every child who auditions for a role receives one.

Check out the pictures below to see the glee on many little faces as they prepare to sing the news of His salvation.

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Nervous kids read over speaking parts before hopping into line for auditions.

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It’s time to audition! Kids wait in line for their turn at the microphone.

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Choir members gear up for choreography with their robot moves.

 

Share with us: What does your church do to bring VBS to life?

Don’t Let Anyone Slip Between the Cracks!

cristy3At 9-years-old, I fell in love with Jesus. I remember it vividly – After a Sunday night sermon, I rode home with a weird feeling inside of me. Thirty minutes later after a conversation with my dad, I realized that feeling was conviction and that God was pulling me to Him. I prayed with my dad, and that is the day that I was welcomed into the Kingdom. Immediately afterwards, I went out to our gym to shoot free throws. My night went on like every other night of my childhood, but my heart was completely transformed. So began my walk with The Lord.

I tell you that story because I want you to know the happy ending. I found Christ. He revealed Himself to me. But as I look back on the early years of my life, I know that this wasn’t the first time I was interested in becoming a Christian. Two years before I sat in the choir room of my church as we sang and waved our hands around animatedly. I can’t tell you which VBS we were doing, maybe Starquest or Mt. Extreme…but I can tell you that the Gospel was presented. I remember hearing the ABC’s of Becoming a Christian. The nice woman explaining how much Jesus loved me passed out cards to everyone. She said to circle a certain area of the card if we wanted to hear more about asking Jesus into our hearts. And I did.

Here’s the kicker, though. I NEVER heard anything back. I remember wondering about it, but at that early age, I didn’t want to ask any teachers why no one noticed that I marked something on my card. It’s crazy to me now. I know that my VBS Director’s entire purpose for the week was to introduce kids to Christ. My card must have been lost, forgotten, or overlooked. Regardless, I didn’t receive follow-up about the greatest decision I could ever make.

Now, God is sovereign. I’m not claiming that one person’s mistake could’ve cost me eternity with my Father. However, I want to give an extra ounce of encouragement to the leaders out there – be careful with your plan for follow-up. VBS is a HUGE opportunity to welcome kids into the Kingdom of Heaven!!! Be diligent in watching out for those that desire His presence.

Without Love, I Am Nothing

cristy3“Holiday Bible Club”

At first, I had no idea what these three words meant. Quickly, however, my mission trip coordinator explained that we were doing a “VBS of sorts” for the kids we would be serving in Soweto and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Our Holiday Bible Club was limited. We took a parachute, three kick balls, and two Frisbees for rec, told a ten minute Bible story, and gave out stickers and oranges for the kids to eat as they walked back to their homes. Throughout these activities, one thing stayed at the forefront of our minds: We would love these kids because Jesus loves us.

Throughout the week, we saw delight splashed across dozens of little African faces, and our faces responded the same. We witnessed excitement as kids raised their hands to answer who told Eve to eat the fruit and where Jesus was born. And we watched hope envelop hearts as we explained the true story of Christ’s death and resurrection.

You’ve witnessed this exact thing. You – as VBS directors, kids ministers, parents, and volunteers – know that the secret behind a successful church event is not the perfect combination of curriculum, schedule, and snacks. The secret is love.

Sometimes when I’m writing, I get aggravated at myself for using verses that seem to be “cliché.” But the truth of the matter is – nothing from the Bible should ever be considered trite or overused. So today, I’ll end with a verse that is well known, full of truth, and life-altering, but anything but cliché.

“If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

brown2On the tenth day of Christmas, I’m sharing another great recipe—all the way from my sweet Aunt Betty in White Water, Missouri! Aunt Betty’s Cranberry Relish. I’ve shared this recipe with friends here in Tennessee and they love it. So if you don’t like that canned log of cranberry jell, sliced up and plopped on a plate, but love that little cranberry kick with your Christmas turkey, give this zesty treat a try!

Aunt Betty’s Cranberry Relish

Ingredients:
2 cups raw cranberries (ground)
1 apple (unpeeled and ground)
1 orange (unpeeled and ground)
2 cups sugar
1 cup pecans (chopped)
2 packages Lemon Jello
1 cup boiling water
Directions:
1. Combine cranberry, apple, and orange with sugar and let stand (juice and all).
2. Dissolve Jello (in boiling water) letting it chill till partly set.
3. Add all the other ingredients together and stir.
4. Chill until firm.
5. Give it all another good stir before serving.

So there you have it! Christmas dinner at our house wouldn’t be complete without Aunt Betty’s Cranberry Relish on the table.

From my family to yours, have a great Cranberry Christmas!

On the Fifth Day of Christmas

cristy3On the fifth day of Christmas, my mom asked my dad how to work the camcorder.

I think you’ll agree with me that a certain feeling is held in every breath we breathe on Christmas morning. It’s the Christmas spirit, the yuletide excitement, the glorious merriment of celebrating our King’s birth. I can close my eyes and imagine exactly what it will feel like to wake up on Christmas morning, back home in Texas with the rest of the Whitlock clan.

In an attempt to capture this yearly cheerfulness, my parents have filmed every Christmas morning since the birth of my older brother. All of us kids sleep upstairs, and on the morning of the 25th, we gather atop the staircase. My parents have the filming device at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for us to start singing Christmas carols. None of us claim to be musically inclined, so every Christmas video displays a mixture of pitchiness, forgotten words, and silence on the high notes because none of us will attempt any range. My brother will push one of us down the stairs. My older sister will whine about it. My twin sister will put on make-up before going on camera. And it never fails that my mom will forget how to use the camera. Almost every home video we own starts with my mom asking my dad, “Danny, what’s this red light mean?” (When will she learn that it means it’s recording??) These are traditions that I never want to change.

It’s inevitable, however, that there will be some modifications over the years. We’ve already had two people marry into our craziness, so aligning schedules can be extremely difficult. As my siblings start splitting Christmas mornings with the Whitlocks and their in-laws, and as work schedules disallow vacation on the 25th, we will alter our traditions.

But there’s one thing we will never alter. We will always have a magical feeling overtake our hearts at Christmastime because as amazing as family videos and togetherness tend to be, they are nothing in comparison to the Gospel. This year, we will again be reminded of the death Christ saved us from – the day perfection joined our sinful depravity, lived in flesh for three decades, and rescued our souls through death on a cross. THIS is cause for celebration. THIS will never change. THIS is Christmas.

Guest Post: Apologetics in Agency D3

The following post is written by Dr. Shane Garrison. Dr. Garrison has served as assistant professor of Educational Ministries in the Campbellsville University School of Theology for the past five years. He additionally serves as president and lead consultant of Maple Trail Ministry Consultants.

I can’t wait for LifeWay’s VBS Agency D3 – Discover Decide Defend.  This year is going to be unlike any previous year in that we encourage our kids to take a hard look at the truths of the Bible and then learn how to defend what they believe in an ever-changing world.

The pattern and sequence is intentional.  We start by helping kids DISCOVER the truths of Scripture.  Then we ask them to DECIDE if they really believe what the Bible says about God, Jesus, and the way to be saved.  If so, then we help them DEFEND these truths in a world that is hostile, even angry, at such beliefs.  Discover Decide Defend makes perfect sense to me.

I can assure you as a parent of two elementary-age kids, the Christian worldview is under intense attack in our schools, communities, and country as our culture becomes far more religiously pluralistic and secular.  Anybody, including our kids, who takes a stand for biblical convictions and truth are seen as intolerant and out of line.  Our culture has determined we Christians can hold to our faith privately, but should never proclaim that faith publicly.

This is the world our kids live in and will continue to live in as they grow older.  So giving our children the tools to discover, decide, and defend their beliefs is vitally important.

It might be asked, however, “How is this VBS evangelistic?  How does Agency D3 share the Gospel of Jesus with unbelieving children and students?”

The answer lies in the power of apologetics.  Apologetics is simply defending the faith.  It is being able to stand for what you believe in and clearly explain how your faith is not built upon shifting sand, but on the rock solid Word of God.  We must be able to defend the reality of Jesus and his death on the cross as the only means of salvation.  “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Apologetics is being able to say, “I believe this truth because…”  It is simply always being “ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)  And our kids desperately need this – both believing children and unbelieving children.

For believing children, being able to discover decide defend will help them shore up any questions or doubts they might be facing.  It will provide for them a stronger foundation to stand upon.

For unbelieving children, we get the opportunity to teach them the essential truths of the Bible that will hopefully lead them to believe, not in some fairy tale, myth, or legend, but in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are showing (and hopefully proving) to these children that Jesus is real and He really died for their sin and if they really trust in Him, He will really save them.  Discover DECIDE Defend.

I believe apologetics is a powerful evangelistic tool.  One that has been in use by Christian pastors, teachers and leaders for more than 1000 years.

What a Little Editing Can Teach You

bethanyLast week as I finished up on 2014 work for my personal favorite in our VBS family, Backyard Kids Club®, I had the fun of sorting through the snow that was coating my office in the form of all the paper versions of Backyard Kids Club pieces.

Here were the edits of the Host Folder after it had art placed on it.

There was the very first version I printed out of the Directors Guide back when I was first trying to get my head around what it should look like next year.

When I got done sorting through all the papers and got them all in one place...this is what the stack now looks like.

When I got done sorting through all the papers and got them all in one place…this is what the stack now looks like.

You might think I’m kind of silly but I actually got nostalgic. There were layers and layers of edits, and I remembered something about where I was, both personally and spiritually, when those versions of each product were still in play.

I’ve come a long way.

God has taught me a lot, broken me a lot, healed me a lot in the months since I started editing Backyard Kids Club.

And BKC has come a long way from a shell of “this is how we did it last year,” to a shiny, smooth, “this is how we’re doing it next year,” and “this is what we need to remember for 2015.”

God is over this process, friends. He takes each of us on the VBS team through personal struggles that grow us personally and professionally, and He gives us eyes to continue reading, studying, and improving curriculum to His glory.

And He is with you today, in your joys, in your heartaches, in your failures, in your successes. He sees ahead to where you’ll be when it comes time to sit down and teach VBS 2014, and He knows the plans He has to use you for His glory, now, then, and long after that.

I was encouraged remembering that this week. I hope you are too.

Where in the World is Rocket Pack Jack?

brown2Hey guys. If you’re like me, you still like to get what I call “fun mail”. It’s snail mail but not bills or junk mail just the cool stuff like handwritten notes from friends, cool postcards, magazines, etc…

This coming year, you might receive some fun mail from Rocket Pack Jack! Inside you’ll find a “flat” Rocket Pack Jack along with the following informative note:

My name is Rocket Pack Jack. I’m traveling the country getting people excited about VBS 2014. Are you ready to join our special agents as we trace the facts back to who Jesus really is? 

Here’s how you can help us get others excited about discovering, deciding, and defending the truth about Jesus! 

• Take a picture with me and post it to facebook.com/lifewayvbs 

• Sign the back of me with your name and location. 

• Mail me to the next person you know that loves VBS! 

Have questions? My friends at LifeWay would love to help. Contact them at lifewayvbs@lifeway.com.   

There’ve been a couple sightings here in TN already!

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RPJ lands in Andy Duke’s office

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Jack_Capital2RPJ flies over TN’s State Capital – stopped long enough for a quick snap shot!

So if the package comes your way, take a couple creative shots of RPJ and send him on his way! Where in the world will RPJ land next?

Thrift Store Challenge Results!

A few weeks ago, we posted a challenge to those out there that love VBS. Your mission? To create a gadget out of thrift store finds. We received many entries that blend seamlessly with our Agency D3 theme for 2014! You did an amazing job! Here’s a few of our favorites:

VBS Thrift Store GadgetDana Whittaker created this gadget, complete with high tech monitor, out of an easy bake oven, a few toys, PVC pipe, a Blokus game board, and some silver spray paint. Don’t you love it?!

VBS Thrift Store Gadget This lab analyzing machine came from Bethany Johnson. An old popcorn maker, spray paint, Tinker Toys, and a glow stick combined to make this final product. We’re positive the kids are going to be thrilled!

1149720_10201860190096214_833467647_o Lisa Moore shows us her skill with a metal bowl, toy microscope complete with a screen, and a light. By the time Agency D3 starts in her church, she’ll have this light flashing off of all the walls! Follow Lisa’s example for some of your own gizmos!

VBS Thrift Store Gadget One more outstanding entry came in the form of  a thrift store purchased beverage dispenser and a plastic water bottle filled with oil, water, and food coloring. Add on a few crazy straws and you’re ready for the lab!

Remember when we said we’d randomly select a winner from all of our participants? Of course you do! Well, our lucky winner of a VBS 2014 Starter Kit is Lisa Moore. Congratulations Lisa! (We used random.org to determine who would receive the prize.)

We were overwhelmed with the amazing gimmicks we received through email and Facebook posts. Thank you so much for participating! Decorating for Agency D3, as you’ve seen in prior videos and posts, can be easy and inexpensive. We hope you’ve found some inspiration today!