Summer is the season of mission trips, Vacation Bible School and Backyard Bible Clubs. I would like to share a personal experience that I find especially encouraging.
Our church is hosting a large number of volunteers this week from Lynchburg, VA. Their mission team is doing a few construction projects and running several Backyard Bible Clubs in different locations. One of them is at the small country church I frequently preach at. This is an old church, and does not have central air. During the day we open up the windows and turn on a couple of fans. We’ve been leaving the front door standing open, just to move some air. Well, this morning a young couple was driving by and noticed the open door. She has been looking for a job, and everyone knows what that is like right now. She felt the need to stop in and pray. They entered the back of the sanctuary, and listened to the children’s Bible lesson that was being taught. When the kids went downstairs for snacks and crafts, we had the chance to listen to their story and pray with them. We invited them to join us tomorrow, and certainly for service on Sunday.
They stopped at the church to pray because they saw the front door open. We often (I hope) invite people to church, but how inviting is our church? How many others would stop and pray, ask questions or just talk to us if they saw the door open? This happened at 11:00 on a Thursday morning. There’s a lot of hurt, a lot of need, a lot of fields white for harvest out there. It may be a stretch just to imagine people with problems wanting to be anywhere near “church people.” Imagine if more churches had open doors and people waiting to pray with those passing by. Just a thought.
UPDATE: This post was written in 2008. The Lifeway VBS theme for 2009 is Boomerang Express, and you can link to their site here.
Ever since I first mentioned Outrigger Island, I’ve been getting about half a dozen hits a day from search engines looking for ideas; how to decorate, time saving tips, how to plan activities, etc. Well first off, as promised, here is a pic of me in a grass skirt doing the hula. Below are several more pics taken from our first night, and some ideas that maybe you can borrow for your VBS.
(click any photo to enlarge)
In addition to supplies from Lifeway, we bought decorations like these grass skirts from Oriental Trading Company. I’m not running ads for them or anything, but they sell stuff cheap in bulk, and can ship quickly if you’re in a hurry.
A plastic backdrop can quickly decorate any room.
Limbo is cheap, easy to set up, and authentic Hawaiian.
For little kids, try playing volleyball with a beach ball instead.
Decorate your tables for the full luau effect.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we have Outrigger Island coming up at our church. On Wednesday night we prayerwalked the church campus and prayed for each activity and classroom area. Your church could do this for any VBS. We handed out prayerwalk brochures with specific recommendations of what to pray about in each area, then divided our crowd up into small prayer groups to divide and concur. Areas you want to include are: sanctuary (or large meeting place), classrooms for each class or age group, music room, missions study area, craft room, refreshment area (and the people who serve them), recreation area, and your bus or van ministry. Don’t forget about preschoolers and babies when you pray for class groups, and certainly remember your pastor, youth leader and VBS directors.
Vacation Bible School is usually one of the most important ways that a church is visible in its community. Evangelism and church growth are definitely priorities during this week. Pray ahead of time that God would bless each of your workers as well as every child that comes in. Organizing a prayer walk or prayer meeting also helps everyone to focus on how important your mission is, and gets everyone on the same page.
UPDATE: This post was written back in 2008. The link below automatically redirects to the 2009 VBS theme from Lifeway, Boomerang Express.
This link is to Lifeway’s Outrigger Island website, where you view curriculum material, order items and share ideas. There are forums where you can chat with other directors, pastors and teachers about their plans and experiences.
Prayerwalk you VBS. That’s a new thing we did this year at our church.
Update: prayerwalk your VBS.
Update: ideas for planning/ decorating
Vacation Bible School begins at my church in about a week and a half. This year’s theme is “Outrigger Island,” and is basically a Hawaii surf party setting. My church always uses the material provided by LifeWay, whereas our old church back in GA never used the SBC program. I don’t think they found anything wrong with the curriculum, it’s just that 100 other churches within an hour’s drive all did the same thing. So when my wife and I took over as the VBS directors, we were told two things; what our budget was, and not to use LifeWay resources. The budget I went over anyway, and the next year was given a bigger budget. We went with Group Publishers, and even though we’ve been gone 5 years, out church back home still uses their program each summer.
Wow, did I digress or what. ANYWAY, Outrigger Island is a surfer/island theme with the motto “Know the truth, Speak the truth, Live the Truth.” Continue reading →