Tips For VBS Planning

As a kid, one thing I looked forward to during the summer was the week my church would have VBS, or Vacation Bible School.  I always loved the different themes and helping my parents decorate the classrooms that they would be teaching in.  Once I got older, however, VBS soon lost its appeal as I had to start helping the adults plan for the week.  Therefore, this week we’re going to talk about some tips that I picked up from experiences of planning for Vacation Bible Schools of years past.

Tip 1:  Decorations Are Nice, But…

Okay, so I know I just said that I enjoyed helping the adults decorate the classrooms for VBS as a kid, but once I got older, I realized that tons of decorations aren’t necessary.  What I mean is that items such as themed posters with the week’s Bible verses on them serve a purpose, whereas a huge blow-up figurine that matches the theme doesn’t, other than looking pretty for the time being.  In years past, I have seen adults so caught up in an effort to make the church look pretty that they end up spending over the allotted budget and focusing more on setting up/maintaining the decorations throughout the week than they do on teaching the students about God.

“And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
-Mark 14:9

Consider the above verse when it mentions “the deceitfulness of riches”.  If we spend more time decorating the church than preparing the lessons for VBS, then we are essentially “choking the word” just like the verse says, meaning that we are overlooking the most important aspect of VBS in favor of something that will only matter for the short term.  So, to recap, decorations are nice as long as they don’t distract us from our main task of making God known to the students.

Tip 2: Let the Kids be Kids

One of the things I came to loathe the most about planning for VBS in the past was the fact that I started helping to plan for VBS and acted as an assistant teacher for some of the classes throughout the week when I was in middle school.  The church I went to at the time was relatively small, and so the adults decided that instead of having middle school/high school classes, that the kids who were currently enrolled in youth group could help teach the other classes.  This arrangement would not have been so bad, except for the fact that there was an adult class, which consisted of adults who regularly attended our church.  Throughout those years, I came to think of VBS as a chore, mostly because I was stuck doing tasks like wrangling up disruptive kids or fetching craft supplies instead of participating in activities and learning more about God.  In my opinion, the spiritually mature adults of the church should be responsible for all of the teaching roles throughout the week, and only attend the adult class if all teaching positions have been filled by others.

“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
-Isaiah 54:13

Based my experiences, I don’t think that the majority of teenagers are mature enough spiritually to teach a class or take on a major leadership role for VBS, simply because a lot of times they are new Christians or have not really focused on God.  Spiritually growth takes place when people are exposed to the word and love of God, and are able to learn from those experiences.  I can’t speak for everyone, but when I was helping out with VBS instead of attending a class myself, the chore-like feeling drew me further away from God, and made me loathe coming back each day.  In reality, I wasn’t even fit to help teach because my relationship with God wasn’t where it should have been.  Therefore, I think that adults who are spiritually mature (have a good relationship with God) should teach the classes, and that churches should allow the youth to enjoy the week by learning about and growing closer to God.

Tip 3:  Worship Rallies Are Not the Christian Equivalent of a Broadway Production

One of the worst experiences I had during the time that the youth group I attended helped with planning and putting VBS into action was preparing for the worship rallies every night.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the worship rallies as a kid, but once I got older, it became a youth group version of American Idol, acting as a showcase for the singers/dancers instead of a time of worship for God.  During one of the last years I served on the VBS committee at my former church, the crowd of kids looked like a mosh pit as the kids in youth group shot small stuffed animals out of a t-shirt cannon into the audience, kids were running all over everywhere screaming, and God was pushed to the back-burner. Afterwards, the preacher offered words of praise for the performers, but spoke little about how God’s love was shown throughout the week.   The entire thing seemed totally backwards in my mind.

“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
-Luke 14:11

One of the major teachings of Christianity is that we should humble ourselves before God and work to serve others.  Contrarily, during events like VBS, our talents are often exalted and God is often left out in the process.  The thing to remember here is that though VBS is meant to be fun and enjoyable, that God should be the center at all times.  If we find ourselves boasting about our singing talents or allowing kids to run rampant through God’s house, stomping on pews and doing so without any acknowledgement of Him, then we need to reexamine why we are having VBS in the first place.

 

In essence, the main tip that I can provide is that we should actively seek to make God known during the week of VBS; all other aspects are vain.  Focus primarily on promoting God’s love and teaching His word, and your VBS will surely be a success.

 

Goodnight and God bless!

-Allyson 😀

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#PrayForOrlando

In light of the mass shooting that took place over the weekend in Orlando, Florida, I would like to take this opportunity to dedicate this week’s blog post to counter posts on various social media websites that I have seen this weekend.  The posts I have seen have declared that due to the fact that Christians “hate” LGBT individuals, that we are hypocrites for praying for the victims of the tragedy.  Additionally, I have come across one post in particular that openly denies that prayer will solve anything.  My main intention for this post is to make it clear to nonbelievers that the Bible’s teachings about sexual immorality and prayer have absolutely nothing to do with the attack on Orlando; rather, the growing presence of worldwide sin is what triggered this massacre.

Fallacy #1: Christians Hate the LGBT Community

As a Christian who has had a few friends who have declared that they either support or are members of the LGBT community, I can say that I do not hate them for their choices.  Once I have discovered that we have opposing viewpoints on the lifestyle, I choose to avoid the subject because I know that telling them that sexual immorality of any kind is a sin will only make them think God is full of hate.  Nevertheless, I still do not support the lifestyles of the LGBT community, nor do I water down the gospel for the sake of political correctness and tolerate the sinful policies this nation has been instituting for the sake of this group.  The Bible clearly states in 1 Timothy 1:10, “The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine…”.  Therefore, just as I do not support the other sins that are mentioned in the above verse and work to not commit those sins, I do not support or participate in the LGBT lifestyle.

Now that I’ve explained my point-of-view on the issue, in relation to the attack on Orlando, I will say that both parties (i.e., the gay nightclub that was attacked and the shooter) were participating in sinful actions.  Despite this, I know that God would not call for the mass-murder of LGBT individuals at the hand of an Islamic terrorist, nor do I think that God would destroy the LGBT community out of their disobedience, such as Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, Jesus declared that sin would prevail in the end times, and I believe that this past weekend’s shooting was no exception of the trials and tribulations the world will face in the years to come.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”
-2 Timothy 3:1

Therefore, Christians are not blaming the LGBT victims of the shooting for bringing the massacre upon themselves, meaning that we sympathize with the surviving victims and the families of those who are lost.  The thing is, Christians sympathize best through praying.

Fallacy #2: Prayer Won’t Solve Anything

When events of mass destruction occur that produce large death tolls, people need somewhere to place their concerns.  Posting on social media, protesting in the streets, or holding a press conference and blaming the incident on our nation’s lack of gun control will not effectively alleviate the pain and suffering the victims and families are going through.  Anything we try to do on our own is futile.  The only being that has ever lived that can truly heal our pain is Jesus Christ.  By talking to Him, we cast our burdens on Him and are renewed in knowing that He will make all things better in His time.  The thing is, many people pray only when they come across a traumatic event in their life, and then wonder why God won’t act immediately to answer their request.  When their prayers aren’t answered, they say that God isn’t listening, or deny His existence altogether.  I’m a firm believer that a relationship with God takes daily faith.  You can’t deny His existence daily and then come crawling back to Him for a few select days when you need something. On the contrary, if you are living for God everyday and talk to Him regularly, your faith can cause extraordinary things to happen by the power of God.

 “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
-Matthew 17:20

You see that?  NOTHING shall be impossible unto you.

If you say praying doesn’t work, it’s because you lack faith.  If you lack faith, then you don’t truly believe.  If you don’t believe, and by the end of this post you still have no desire to seek God, then I hope you have a wonderful day.  You see, I’m not going to attack nonbelievers for not believing in God; I just expect the same kind of respect in return.

My final response to the anti-prayer posts:

God is not to blame for the shooting in Orlando, nor any of the shootings that have taken place over the last few years.  Christians are not hypocrites of their faith for praying for the victims, but are exercising their faith so that God will intervene in the situation and produce righteous results.  Anything people post against the power of God or the power of prayer will not diminish the presence or capabilities of either force.  The real enemy we are facing, the true source of evil that caused the massacre, is the sin of murder that was inspired by a terrorist group.  So don’t blame God, blame his enemy: Satan.

Good day, God bless, and continue to pray not only for Orlando, but for all the nations of this world that are suffering from terrorism.

-Allyson 😀

Featured image found at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/246009198374430213/

Christian Movie Night: What If?

On Memorial Day, I spent the afternoon with my boyfriend and his family, where we watched Christian movies all afternoon.  Initially we began with his family’s copy of God’s Not Dead, but after it ended we decided to look up similar movies on Netflix.  The three remaining films we watched were just as good as God’s Not Dead in my opinion, though they have not garnered as much publication by the media.  So, if you’re looking for new additions to your Christian movie collection, here are a few that won’t disappoint:

whatif

Featuring Kevin Sorbo, who plays the infamous Professor Radisson in the film God’s Not DeadWhat if… depicts the journey a businessman endures when God allows him to experience an alternative life that he could have had if he had not strayed from ministry.  Sorbo’s character is sarcastic and dry-humored, which ensues comic relief when he has to assume the position of a new pastor at his childhood church. Additionally, when the former bachelor finds himself taking the lead as the father figure for his what-if family that features a wife and two daughters, you’ll find yourself both laughing and (if you are a parent) possibly relating to his lack of parenting skills.  Overall, What if… was my favorite pick of the afternoon, and I highly recommend it for viewers of all ages!

 

unconditional

After watching What if…, my boyfriend told me to pick another movie, so I ended up choosing Unconditional at random.  Though we thought that the writing and acting for this film wasn’t as entertaining as that of the other movies we watched that day, the overall message of the film continued the theme of What if… in that it demonstrates how one act of kindness can lead someone else to get to know Christ, and that may in turn effect how the future plays out. Unconditional also tackles subjects such as murder, race, and violence, which earns it a PG-13 rating; nevertheless, the movie remains wholesome throughout its entirety.

mileinhisshoes

The final film we watched that night was A Mile in His Shoes, which still makes me smile every time I think about it.  The movie focuses on Mickey, a common farm boy who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, who receives an invitation to join a minor league baseball team after the coach notices his astounding pitching abilities.  To be honest, we found this title under the sports movies section of Netflix rather than the Christian movies, but I was pleasantly surprised when Mickey started talking about his love for God in front of his teammates.  Coincidentally, A Mile in His Shoes also had a what-if theme to it; Mickey’s father felt the need to belittle his son due to his form of autism, which almost hindered Mickey from joining the team.  If Mickey had not of joined the team, the team would not have the positive influence that it did at the end of the movie.  A Mile in His Shoes is suitable for all ages, and it features quite a few unexpected funny moments.

I hope you have as much fun watching these movies as I did!  Remember, the theme is What-If, so keep these verses in mind while you are watching:

“Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
-James 4:13-15

God bless!

-Allyson 😀

Featured Image:  Combination of movie titles found on Pinterest.  All rights belong to the creators of the movie posters/promotionals.

Individual images: