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.

Foto Friday… What is It? Revealed!

tyrrellWell, it has been a light week on the comments, but Kimberly nailed it! “SNACK!! Cookie mustache, peanut butter nose with chocolate chip nostrils!”
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You are correct Kimberly, it is a snack and it is a cookie mustache, peanut butter nose with chocolate chip nostrils! Do you have hidden cameras in my office and can see what I’m going to do for “What is It?” Quick! How many fingers am I holding up!?!?! :P

This week’s photo is one of our snacks called, “Disguise on a Stick” and it looks yummy!

 

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Apologetics 101

thomasThe day we announced our VBS 2014 theme, one well-known apologist tweeted: “FANTASTIC! 2014 VBS curriculum from @Lifeway focuses on apologetics for kids. Excellent!” Since then we’ve heard many of you express the same kind of excitement about this Bible content designed to help kids discover the truth about who Jesus is and defend their faith in a culture that is often hostile toward Christianity. But we also know that “apologetics” is an unfamiliar word to some. Consider this your crash course. Are you ready?

 

What is apologetics?
Simply put, apologetics is the defense of the faith. It comes from the Greek word apologia, which means “a reasoned defense.” Just like attorneys use evidence and reasoning to defend their clients in court, Christian apologists point to concrete evidence and give well-reasoned answers to defend the truth of Christianity.

The purpose of apologetics is not winning an argument. The purpose is to draw people into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, the cornerstone and foundation of our faith.

What about evangelism?
Apologetics goes hand-in-hand with evangelism. In fact, apologetics could even be described as pre–evangelism. For those who question the Christian faith, apologetics uses logical answers as springboards for sharing the gospel. Ours is not a blind faith; it is a faith firmly rooted in history and evidence.

Apologetics can also be described as post–evangelism. At some point, everyone will have his beliefs directly challenged, whether by a friend, teacher, family member, or the ever-pervasive media. When those “points of crisis” come along, we must be able to fall back on those foundational pillars of our faith and be assured not only of what we believe, but also why we believe it. Matthew 22:37 commands us to love God not only with our hearts and souls, but also with our minds.

Why are so many young people growing up and leaving their faith behind? It’s because the Christian community is failing to engage their minds as well as their hearts. As kids ministry leaders, we can give children a priceless gift by helping them to think biblically and to defend their faith before they leave our sphere of influence.

Can’t we hold off until they get to the youth group?
Let me answer this question with another question. Can we really afford to wait?

While teaching in VBS two summers ago, a kindergartner said to me, “My daddy says God isn’t real, so His Son isn’t real either.” What this 6-year-old was really saying was: “Tell me why what you’re saying is true.”

We must give kids reasons why Christianity is objectively true, why the Bible is God’s inspired and infallible Word, why we can know that Jesus was more than just a good man and that His resurrection is not a myth or elaborate hoax. If not, we risk losing our children and generations to follow.

As kids ministry leaders, we don’t have to have all the answers… and we don’t even have to pretend to. But we do need to be available to kids and help them work through their questions, doubts, and uncertainties honestly. This will become very important as they enter the teenage years and young adulthood… but it begins now. It begins in VBS. It begins with leaders who will not only help kids discover the truth, and introduce them to a Savior who died for them, and build a foundation for life-long faith in them, but who will show them by example how to live it out.

 

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Foto Friday…What is It?

tyrrellHello Agents!  Are you ready for this week’s “What is It?”? This week is actually VBS related. lol! I guess I have given you all a few curveballs lately but, I promise, this week is either a VBS craft or snack.

Okay, are you ready? Here it is!

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What do you think? Can you DISCOVER what it is? Can you DECIDE if it’s a VBS craft or snack? Will you DEFEND your choice?

Remember, give me your funniest, craziest comments.

Get the Communication Hub Humming

thomasIt’s time for another Decorating Monday feature! Today we’ll take a look at the site for music rotation during Agency D3… the Communication Hub. Because it’s Monday and because we like you, our faithful blog readers, so much, I’ll give you a piece of art to download that will make your decorating even easier.

 

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Here you go! We used keyboards all over the place in our Agency D3 decorations, but nowhere is it more critical than here in the center of communications for the entire Agency. All you need to do is mount these to foam board scraps and voila—a perfectly easy wireless keyboard!

Stay tuned for more quick tips and easy tricks to bring Agency D3 to life in your church this summer!

Agency D3 Decorating- Music from LifeWay VBS on Vimeo.

Foto Friday. . .What is It?

tyrrellAhh! I bet you thought I forgot our next assignment? Nope, I’m trying to keep you on  your toes! Here’s your next Foto Friday assignment.

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What do you think? Can you DISCOVER what it is? Can you DECIDE if it’s a VBS item or am I trying to throw you a curveball? Will you DEFEND your choice?

Give me your best, craziest, funniest responses!

Foto Friday…What is It? Revealed!

tyrrell“Ugly Tie”! That guess cracked me up! I think I’ve had ties that looked like that before.  Thank you Dawn, Debbie, Marsha and Krystal for your guesses! Last week’s Foto Friday…What is It? is a craft from our VBS Student Guide. It is our “Special Agent Desk Caddy”…it’s a plastic tray that has been decorated with different things-colorful duct tape, magazine pages, etc.

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Be sure to stay tuned for this week’s “Foto Friday…What is It?” and Discover, Decide, and Defend what it is. 

 

VBS 2014 Tour Stop 6: Takin' It Home

wooley1 2013The newest addition to LifeWay’s family of VBS resources is the VBS 2014 Takin’ It Home CD. You may have read about it back in June.

Takin’ It Home is truly one of the most exciting aspects of VBS to come along in years. VBS leaders and pastors are constantly trying to figure out ways to connect with parents, and this is it!

Takin’ It Home CD is designed for families to listen to in the car on the way home from VBS. A segment for each day not only serves as a review for the the kids, but introduces the content, life application, and memory verse to the parents as well. Each day families will be challenged to have intentional conversations with each other. Families will also be challenged to pray together and return the following Sunday for Bible study and worship.

We tested Takin’ It Home with four churches this summer and have heard great stories such as the parents in Florida who made professions of faith as a result of interacting with their kids and the CD. Or the mom in Tennessee who rushed into the church office wanting to know where she could get a copy for a neighbor family. We also heard from a mom who said she had never had such meaningful conversations with her kids.

We believe so much in this resource that we have done everything we can to make it possible for every family to have a copy of their own. Every church will receive a copy in the Jump Start Kit, along with permission to make as many copies as needed. In a few weeks  there will also be free downloadable files at lifeway.com/vbs. Again, make as many copies as you wish.

If you do not have a way to make copies, or if you would just enjoy the convenience of having them made for you, we have taken care of that as well. You can choose to purchase Takin’ It Home CDs in 10 packs.

For a few extra dollars you can have the message of Takin’ It Home customized especially for your church. Our actors will record the segments specifically for your church, along with a message of invitation to attend future services and events. You will receive a master copy and permission to reproduce as many copies as you need.

VBS continues to be one of the very best ways to connect with unchurched families, and now Takin’ It Home makes it easier than ever to connect with parents.

 

 

Foto Friday. . .What is It? Revealed!

tyrrellIn last week’s Foto Friday, I gave you two images to Discover, Decide and Defend. One was for real and the other one was “something” else. . .I’m testing you and can I say, you are GOOD! I can’t seem to pull one over on you! Great guesses from Marsha, Trici, Jeni, Susen, and Debbie. Some of your guesses are almost right on. . .do we have a mole? Is my office bugged? Are you using some kind of cool gadget to figure out what I’m up to? Say…… something like this?

Agent Locator

Agent Locator. . .clip art?. . .maybe. . .wink wink!

Enough of sneakily giving you a piece of clip art, here’s this week’s “What is It? Revealed!”.

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This is a VBS craft called the Critical Information File Cabinet.

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Now this one was the image that I was trying to “get” you with. Yes, Trici and Debbie. . .it is Superman! Superman Socks that is! With a cape!

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photo-26No, this is not me. This is Henry. . .and I love his socks!

Stay tuned for your next assignment!

Decorating Monday

thomasWho’s ready for another “Decorating Monday”? So far you’ve seen snippets of Worship Rally Headquarters, Bible Study at the Evidence Vault, Crafts at the Lab, and Snacks at the Break Room. Whew! That’s quite a workout!

Speaking of workouts, how about we take a look at the site for rec during Agency D3—the Training Grounds. Lots of people have told us that their decorating for recreation is minimal at best, but take a look at how easy it is this year to use rec equipment as decoration.

You’ll probably want to watch this video more than once to catch all the crazy antics going on in the background. Gotta love those crazy designers!

Agency D3 Decorating- Recreation from LifeWay VBS on Vimeo.