NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If preview events are any indication, Vacation Bible School will be a big event this summer. Nearly 4,000 people attended VBS preview events this winter to learn about Lifeway Christian Resources’ 2012 VBS: “Amazing Wonders Aviation – Encountering God’s Awesome Power.”
“VBS previews are great moments of bringing people together from all across country to get them excited about VBS 2012,” said Jerry Wooley, Lifeway’s VBS specialist. “We host classes on crafts. We sing all the music. We teach high-tech and low-budget decorations and we look at the Bible content. We do everything in VBS in a compact, 24-hour period.”
This year’s VBS theme is taken from Psalm 147:5 – “Our Lord is great, vast in power; His understanding is infinite” (HCSB) – and uses 1930’s and 40’s vintage aviation to help children, students and adult VBS participants encounter God and His amazing power by exploring some of the world’s greatest natural wonders.
In the VBS study, participants will “take off” each day from the Amazing Wonders Aviation airstrip after a worship rally and visit some great natural God-made creations: Victoria Falls in Africa, the polar Northern Lights, Paricutin volcano in Mexico, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps.
VBS participants will learn how God has amazing power over nature, circumstances, sin, death and life by exploring Bible stories with similar themes and lessons.
“We want everyone who attends VBS to know the power of our awesome God,” Wooley said.
VBS prayer emphasis
During the VBS preview held at Lifeway’s home office in Nashville, discussion leaders encouraged attendees to pray that their future VBS attendees will experience God’s amazing power.
Cindi White, minister of preschoolers at First Baptist Church in Smyrna, Ga., has been a part of VBS at the local church level for 15 years. White said she was pleased with the prayer aspect and believes prayer is the foundational step to VBS success.
“We should be praying first and foremost for the children,” White said. “God already knows who is coming to our Vacation Bible School. We need to bathe them in prayer.”
As minister of early childhood at CrossPoint in Trussville, Ala., Dawn Tucker, attending her first VBS preview, said she “especially loved the information about the prayer guides and brochures” which gave prayer helps for before, during and after VBS.
“We can give these to the parents, teachers and volunteers to encourage them to participate by praying,” said Tucker. “If we don’t emphasize prayer then our volunteers may run the risk of just going through their checklist of things to do for that day.”
In his session titled “Pastoral Leadership During VBS,” Mike Smith, Lifeway’s leadership and evangelism specialist, exchanged creative ideas for increasing prayer for VBS sessions, such as giving prayer lists to home-bound church members, hosting a prayer room each Wednesday night leading up to VBS, and writing workers’ names on rubberband bracelets to act as prayer reminders.
Attendees of Smith’s session also exchanged ideas on how pastors can encourage and enhance their churches’ VBS event through intentional participation.
“Pastors can be great cheerleaders for VBS,” Smith said. “It’s so crucial that pastors be team players. Interact with those kids. You will learn things about the kids, and they will learn things about you and the church.
“Once you’ve interacted and gotten to know some things about the kids, then you can intercede and pray more specifically for them,” Smith said.
VBS is worth it
“VBS is worth it,” said Smith. “Because of VBS, eternity is going to be changed. Kids’ lives are going to be changed. Families are going to be changed.”
According to Rhonda VanCleave, Lifeway’s VBS editorial project leader, “VBS continues to be the flagship event for many churches across the country. [The numbers indicate] about 25 percent of reported baptisms [in Southern Baptist churches] are a direct result of VBS.”
In 2010 (the latest figures available), more than 25,000 churches hosted VBS. More than 2.8 million children, students and adults were enrolled and more than 88,000 people made professions of faith in Christ.
by Jon D. Wilke, Communications Department