VBS in a Cemetery? Now that experiential!

So, have you given much thought to conducting VBS for youth? I sure hope so because VBS is not only a great way to tell teens about Jesus Christ, but it is a unique opportunity to have an unexpected adventure in the process.

Sue Harmon, tireless VBS promoter for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, shared the following note from Laura Owens of Westminster Baptist Church, Westminster, South Carolina.

“I wanted to share with you how our Youth-Style VBS went during Spring Break. We had a great, although exhausting week! I didn’t think it was possible to wear out middle school boys but I did! We averaged 12 youth and adults through the week, which worked great for transportation and for Bible study discussions.

On Monday of the week we picnicked at Issaqueena Falls and acted out the parting of the Red Sea using blue tablecloths. The youth then painted rocks to remind them of God’s power over creation.

On Tuesday we went to the Greenville Zoo as we learned about Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Unfortunately, the lions were sleeping and not very threatening, but we were able to pose with some bronze lions. The boys also loved mimicking the monkeys!

On Wednesday we held Bible study in the middle of a creek with youth sitting on both sides of the river bank. The idea was to show that sin separates us from God just like they were separated from their friends as they sat on opposite banks. At the end of the lesson I walked across a bridge above the river to demonstrate that Jesus is our bridge and connection to God.

Our recreation activity was an egg toss, which spread partners farther apart just as sin separates us from God and makes it difficult for us to have a growing relationship with Him.

On Thursday we went to a nearby cemetery to discuss the resurrection of Jesus. We also talked about what will happen when we die for those who are believers and for those who are not. The students were a little uneasy about being in a cemetery, but it provided the perfect backdrop for discussing God’s power over death.

On Friday we held our final Bible study at the church as we discussed ways God wants to use our lives for His glory.

Our week culminated with a trip to Stone Mountain, Georgia, where we watched a different kind of light show on the side of a granite rock.

Our youth were also able to make several decorations for the children’s VBS week which thrilled our children’s teachers since it is one less thing for them to worry about.

Our youth also marked their Bibles with step-by-step instructions on how to lead a child to Christ, which I pray they will get an opportunity to use during school or this summer during Children’s VBS.

The week was truly incredible, and was a great bonding experience for the youth who had recently joined our youth group.”

To discover more about this incredible experiential VBS, check out “A Fresh Take on Youth VBS” from the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Special thanks to Sue for sharing this great story.

Northern Lights – God's Amazing Wonder

One of the most interesting of God’s amazing wonders being visited during VBS 2012 surely must be the Northern Lights, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis.

Elusive to most, difficult to describe, and almost impossible to explain, yet one of God’s greatest reminders of His power, creativity, and attention to detail.

Using time-lapse photography, NASA has provided a stunning view from the International Space Station as God turns the night sky into one of His amazing wonders. Enjoy!

Special thanks to Jeremy Echols for sharing this information.

Foto Friday. . .Black & White Clip Art

In last week’s blog, Robin asked if we had the map art in a black & white (B/W) version. Well, we didn’t. . .at that time. . but now, we do! So I decided to go back and convert some of our clip art into a B/W version for today’s blog post. I just picked a few. Honestly, as I look back, I have posted quite a bit of clip art! lol!

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Out of This World Decorating

I know there are a lot of you out there who are getting ready to launch Club VBS: SpaceQuest as your summer VBS experience. While SpaceQuest may not have as many ready-made decorations available as Amazing Wonders Aviation, there are some incredible things you can do to transform your space and give your kids an “out of this world” experience! So if you’re looking for some stellar (or should I say “interstellar”) decorating ideas, then you’ve come to the right place. Check out these cute decorating ideas.

Kids will be ready to blast off when they get to have their picture made in this cute rocket ship!

Here’s a cute shuttle made out of cardboard.

Use metallic fabrics and gift bags to add just a hint of the theme to any Bible-learning activity. Check out the cute star-shaped tree topper!

I love the use of hanging stars and the backlit stars along the ceiling.

Darkening the room with black paper or fabric is a good substitute for turning off the lights in the room to get the feel of the black void of space.

Want more ideas? How about these quick & easy tricks…

  • Drape white, blinking Christmas lights around the doorway or hang them from the ceiling.
  • Line the hallway with rope lights leading to the room. Cut out large numbers from construction paper and arrange them down the hall moving from 10 to 1. Tape them to the wall or place them on the floor, covered with clear contact paper. Kids will enjoy counting down to “lift off” as they come and go from their room.
  • Paint various sizes of Styrofoam balls to resemble planets and hang them from the ceiling using fishing line.
  • Create a focal area on one wall using cardboard. Paint it to look like the inside of a shuttle’s cockpit. Punch Christmas lights through from the backside and attach Slinkys or dryer vent hose to the front for a 3-D “space age” look.

Want even more? Check out our awesome Pinterest board dedicated exclusively to SpaceQuest! For an overview of the Bible content, click here. For answers to commonly asked questions about SpaceQuest, click here.

Foto Friday…More Clip Art?

Do be do be do. . .what to do. . .for the blog today? I know. . .CLIP ART! I have fielded a few requests and heard from other people on the VBS team that the below posted clip art has been requested without the location signs on it. Well, I finally had time to “fix” the artwork (remove the logos) and decided to post it on today’s Foto Friday! Yea!

As usual, I’ll post a PNG and a JPG of the artwork. I hope you all have a blessed day!

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The Work of Our Hands

As we approach June 4 – historically one of the busiest weeks for VBS – it is time to take a deep breath, relax for just a moment, and remember that it is truly God who is in charge. He is aware of your need of workers, resources, and time. He is aware of your abilities and inabilities. He is aware of your desires and disappointments. He is aware!

My prayer for you comes from Psalm 90:17.

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands – establish the work of our hands!”

Now, once again, take a deep breath, relax for just a moment, and let Him establish the work of your hands.

VBS + Missions = Winning Combination

Missions Under the Northern Lights for VBS 2012 features five missionaries and their stories on how God is working in their lives and their ministries. Three of the stories were provided by the International Mission Board (IMB) and two of the stories were provided by the North American Mission Board (NAMB). The VBS 2012 Missions Rotation Leader Guide features a DVD with five videos and some video extras to use as you teach the Missions rotation. To get up-to-date information and the latest prayer requests from each of the five missionaries, click here.

The Day 1 video “Sweet Flight to Amazon Jungle” features missionary pilot Andy Kennedy. You can find his update here!

On Day 2, the video titled “God’s Power Over the Arctic” featured John Forrester. Due to a NAMB personnel change since this video was produced, another missionary family serving in Kotzebue, Alaska is featured in the missionary update. You can find the story for Matt and Tammy Hoke here.

The latest update for Day 3′s “The Mahafaly of Madagascar” featuring IMB missionaries Grant and Jodie Waller is available here.

The Day 4 story of “Chaps and the Big E” highlights Navy Chaplain Fred Holcombe and his ministry on the USS Enterprise. Check out his update and prayer requests.

Day 5 featured a 12-year-old deaf girl who went on a mission trip with her dad when she was 10 years old to lead a VBS in El Pozon, Colombia. The missionaries who work with the Deaf in Colombia are Charles and Betty Thomas* (names changed). You can find information on their ministry here.

One last update is on the “Northern Necessities” mission project. The website listed in the Missions Rotation Leader guide and on the “Northern Necessities Poster” (Insert Item 4) is currently under construction. The tab “How You Can Help” is currently unavailable. You can see the information about ways to help by visiting this link. Please note that it will be helpful to First Baptist of Kotzebue if you will mail the items your church collects to the church’s post office box. The address is P.O. Box 26, Kotzebue, Alaska 99752.

Keep these missionaries and their ministries in your prayers. With kids and leaders in VBS praying for the specific prayer requests of these missionaries, big things will happen!

Foto Friday…AWA Planes!

If you are wondering about the profile picture, see the bottom of the post.

Okay, okay, I know that I’ve been MIA. Sorry about that! April is traditionally a very busy month for me as I try to get all the promotional items out the door. But this April has been even crazier as a lot of us are moving offices. . .and I was one of the first one!

My office is not as easy to pack up because. . .well. . .I have a lot of toys! As you can see in one of my earlier posts. But I got it all packed and ready. . .just as the movers came to my door! :O

I’ll post photos of my new office soon! ;)

Back to the blog! As I was thinking about what to blog today, I saw some GREAT AWA plane photos on our Facebook wall that I wanted to share.

I’d like to leave you with one final fun “Keith” note. You might have noted from my “About” page and my other posts, that I’m kind of a comic book/Star Wars geek. Well, today is a fun day for me! Want to know why? heh heh!

It’s May 4th. . .May the Fourth be with You! LOL! (get it?) :P

If you are wondering about my profile picture for today, I decided to play with some of my toys one day at the office. . .I’m 2 out of the 6 Avengers (Thor and Iron Man)! And yes, I’m going to go see the movie today!

Also, don’t forget to check Katie’s blog and let us know what you are working on!

Have a bless day!

A Movement Called VBS

A few days ago I purchased my first pair of TOMS shoes – grey classics. Now I know some of you might be thinking I’m a little too old and definitely not hip enough to wear such shoes, but hey, you are as young as your feet feel, and mine are feeling exceedingly young today!

Upon opening the box I found a tag that proclaimed that I am now part of a movement and should share this information proudly! So I’m sharing.

I have bought plenty of shoes in my life, but this is the first pair that proclaimed me a member of a movement. My point here is not to promote a particular brand of shoes, so I’ll let you figure out the “movement” for yourself. What I do want to promote is the idea of a movement – or a group of people banding together to promote a commonly held belief or passion.

Vacation Bible School is a movement that began in 1898 when Mrs. Walker Hawes, a doctor’s wife from the East side of New York City, obediently responded to God’s call to minister to the neighborhood children who were in desperate need of organized activities.

Here we are 114 years later continuing not only the dream God planted in her heart, but continuing the passion of reaching boys and girls, teenagers, and adult for Jesus Christ through the ministry of VBS. The methods have changed over the years, but the message has thankfully remained the same.

Millions upon millions of people have been recipients of the message and have experienced a personal encounter with Jesus Christ as a result of the faithfulness of Mrs. Walker Hawes and the many – including you – who have followed in her footsteps.

You are part of a movement! Proclaim it proudly!

VBS Geek of the Week—Shelia Thomas

We interrupt this usual “Foto Friday” blog post to bring you a special edition of “VBS Geek of the Week.” Two “geeks” in one week? Man, VBS fans are awesome!

Let me introduce you to Shelia Thomas. Not only is she a VBS Director par excellence, she’s also a brand new mother-in-law since her daughter got married last weekend! Congratulations, Shelia, to you and your family!

We asked Shelia to answer a few questions about what makes her a true “VBS geek.” Here’s what she said…

1.  What is your role in VBS?

I am the VBS Director at my church (FBC Stevenson, AL) and have directed or co-directed for 16 years. I also co-direct my Associational Team (TN River Baptist Association) in the greatest VBS state—Alabama! I teach the music class for our Associational Training Conference and lead the Director’s Early Training.

2.  What was your “geekiest” moment?

My personal VBS motto is “Anything for Jesus!”  So I have LOTS of geeky moments.  However, here’s one of my favs…

One of the churches in our association was struggling in getting their people to come to training. They asked if we could come to them and share our passion for VBS.  Of course we agreed, because we LIVE to see people fired-up about Bible School! We showed up in full VBS attire with a car busting at the seams with all the props!  I must say, it was a blast and God answered our prayers for that church.  What a blessing!  However, on the way home I ran over a rather large piece of a blown-out tire which lodged under my bumper and well… my bumper was torn off.  The Highway Patrol came to my rescue very quickly and within an hour I was headed home! I politely thanked the officer and prepared to leave when the officer said, “You don’t recognize me, do you?”  I looked rather closely and realized that he was a former member of our church! After making my apologies, he replied, “That’s okay, Ms Shelia.  But I would have recognized you even without your VBS get-up and nametag!”  At that point I understood why so many vehicles slowed down, stared, and honked as I stood stranded on the side of the street.  I was in full “Saddle Ridge Ranch” duds and my car was “full-of-it” too.  Oh well, folks around these parts are accustomed to it now.  They say they can’t wait to see what we pull out of the hat next!

3. What makes you keep doing VBS?

The kids!!! Being able to see them worship “kids style” with uninhibited freedom, introducing them to my awesome God, building relationships with them and their families, and most of all the fact that God allows me to be a part of His amazing work. I am so humbled and thankful. I learn something new every year! Isn’t God good??

4.  What has been your favorite VBS theme?

That’s a hard one! I have truly loved every theme. Whenever I have felt challenged to bring a theme to life, God has always proved Himself faithful and provided more than I could hope or imagine! But we REALLY had a great time with “Saddle Ridge Ranch.” It seemed that all the adults got into that one… totally over the top! (Our float in the annual parade was the best ever!)

5.  You might be a VBS geek if…
Why stop at one answer? Shelia gave us a whole list!

  • You wait by the computer for the announcement of next year’s theme while you are completing plans for this year’s school! It’s like working two VBS themes at once!
  • Or, you write skits even from a hospital bed! You know, you have to make the most of your free time! It’s VBS on the brain, 24/7!
  • Or how about… you’re a real VBS geek if you see everything in terms of “How can I use this cardboard from my new pantyhose (or whatever you open that day) in Bible School this year?”
  • Or if you don’t mind standing on the side of the road in the most embarrassing outfit to gain attention for VBS!
  • How about, if you do VBS at your local Nursing Home? They love it, and it is an amazing sight to see those wheelchairs rocking to Jeff Slaughter’s music!
  • And, your kids are really proud that their mom is totally sold-out, freaky crazy gal who is proud to be called a “geek”!!!  (P. S. My kids and husband have caught the “geek” vision!  I could not be more proud!)