What Gives VBS Power?

VBS Reachout Adventures

When we pour ourselves into planning and conducting a VBS week, we want to know it has life-changing power. But sometimes the things that most drive churches in choosing a VBS program won’t bring that lasting change we desire and pray for. Years in the VBS world have shown us that the priorities which often rise to the top for many are:  Is the theme exciting? Is the music good? Is it fun? Is it easy? Those aren’t bad things to want for our VBS’s. But are they great things? Are they the things that give heart-changing power to VBS?

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Sunday–Hassle or Highlight?

VBS Reachout

What’s your favorite day of the week? I think for a lot of us, Friday or Saturday are the days that get us through our harried weeks. We look forward to having a break from work, having some family time, time to hang out in our pj’s with a good book and a warm cup of coffee. The more stressed life becomes, the more we long for times to unwind and relax. This fast-paced culture and the stresses of life tend to skew our perspective and longings away from what truly brings life and refreshment—time worshiping the Lover of our souls.

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Bouncy Houses and Worship

VBS Reachout

I was recently talking with a friend who served on the setup team at his church who had to report at 6:30 am. Wow, that’s a lot of setup, I thought. As he continued to explain his tasks, he mentioned the bouncy house he had to prepare for the kids.  Here’s the gist of our conversation:

Me: “Really? A bouncy house?”

My friend:  “Yeah, we want the kids to love coming to church, so we have a bouncy house for them.”

Me: “So are they a part of the service?”

My friend: “No, the adults go to the service, and the kids enjoy the bouncy house and some teaching.”

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Why VBS Matters? Part II

VBS Reachout

Our last blog began a two-part series about the unique impact VBS can have in the work of the Kingdom, with the hope of expanding your zeal for this awesome ministry.  We discussed how VBS is strategically focused on those most likely to respond to the Gospel, and how the data shows that VBS is uniquely effectual in leading children to saving faith.

Here are two more reasons this ministry should be high among the church’s priorities.

Immerses Kids in the Word

VBS is to Sunday School what Soccer Camp is to year-round soccer. Think of it as a concentrated week of immersion in God’s Word and the Gospel—3 hours a day (as well as “homework” time) for five straight days vs. 45-50 minutes once a week.

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Why VBS Matters, Part I

VBS Reachout

Some time ago a meeting took me to the top of a Seattle high rise, giving me a new perspective—a bird’s-eye view–of an area I’d driven through thousands of times before. In the distance stood the snow-capped Olympic mountains; in the foreground, a landscape filled with the prolific firs of our Evergreen State—all except for one patch. Amid the sea of deep green stood a circle of trees you couldn’t miss, with stunningly brilliant red leaves.

In the landscape of the church’s ministries, I believe VBS similarly stands out from other (also beautiful) children’s programs. It’s such a significant, one-of-a-kind ministry—usually the church’s largest and often only evangelistic outreach to children—that to remove it from the church’s priorities leaves a truly momentous* hole. (*mo·men·tous:  adj. extremely important or crucial, especially in its effect on the future course of events)

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Why Not You?

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There has never before been as great a need for prayerful diligence and creative initiative in getting children engaged in reading and learning the Bible. According to the latest research done collaboratively by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, Bible skepticism is inversely linked to Bible engagement. Their 2014 study revealed that “The number of those who are skeptical or agnostic toward the Bible—who believe that the Bible is ‘just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice’—has nearly doubled from 10% to 19% in just three years.”* Their research showed that two-thirds of those are 48 or younger, and compared to all adults, this demographic is less likely to read or own a Bible, or to believe it contains all we need for living a meaningful life. Their conclusion was striking: “Given the increase in Millennials who don’t believe the Bible is sacred and the decrease in Bible awareness among Millennials, Bible skepticism will likely continue to rise in the next five years.”

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A Blessing Sent

VBS Reachout - A Blessing Sent

“I will bless you…” God’s pronouncement to Abraham was the theme of the Advent meditation I read recently from Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. Her words were both life-giving and challenging during this month that should be all about quiet hearts anticipating Christ’s advent, but for me is way too often fraught with a frenetic December pace where life feels heavy and undoable. She writes,

 “But the weight of everything melts like thinning snow in the heat of His words: ‘I will bless you.’
…He will bless you—the God of invincible reliability, the God who has infinite resources,
the God who is insistent love.
You can always go ahead and breathe—He will bless.
You can always breathe when you know all is grace.

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VBS: Standing the True Test of Time

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I just completed spearheading a great committee of people as we planned our church’s 75th “diamond jubilee” anniversary celebration. As we pored over the documents about our history, we found ourselves in awe of the ways God in His grace and faithfulness has sustained and built—and continues to build—His Church, and our church in particular. One of the stunning stories is of how one elderly “mystery couple” (no one knows their names) in the 1920’s began praying for the children who were playing in the streets of Seattle on Sunday mornings rather than going to church. They shared their burden with a woman and her daughter, Ida and Gladys Kaiser, who went on to begin a Sunday School ministry that bore tremendous fruit and eventually became a church—our church—that continues to this day.

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Summer Seaquest 2015!

Summer Seaquest 2015 - VBS Reachout Adventures

We’re working hard preparing our Summer Seaquest theme to set sail for VBS 2015! Getting ready to introduce kids to the wealth of spiritual treasure found in the Book of Jonah is exciting, inspiring, and keeps us on our knees—all at the same time. The Book of Jonah is far more than the story of a man being swallowed by a great fish. As it says in our Summer Seaquest Bible Lesson Curriculum, “[The Book of Jonah] tells us much about ourselves and our condition as human persons…It tells us much about our God. In Jonah we see played out the mystery of what it means to be human. We are not robots. We make a difference, and yet the Sovereign God, the Controller of the Universe, will not be thwarted. His purposes will be fulfilled.”

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Raising the Bar with Your VBS Music: The Significance of Discipling through Song

VBS Reachout Adventures - Raising the Bar with Your VBS Music

In this series we’ve looked at the compelling need to raise the bar at VBS, and proposed two key ways to do so: through in-depth Bible teaching and strong Scripture memory. Today’s post will begin to explore a third essential component in raising the bar at VBS: offering quality music with a meaningful message.

To be sure, when it comes to music in the church, emotions and opinions run deep! Godly, committed Christians differ widely in their views on the subject—most of us know folks who’ve left a church over its style of worship music—so we won’t go there! Where we will go, however, is to lay out what we at Reachout believe are some non-negotiables when it comes to VBS music.

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