An Inside Look at VBS – Day 1

By: Amber Harder, Communications Specialist

Vacation Bible School started today and WOW, what a morning we had!

Over the last few years, I’ve brought my daughter Feven to VBS and I’ve always been very impressed with the quality of the program enCompass runs. However, this year I have the privilege of getting an insider perspective because this year, I got promoted to Snack Lady.

I know, I know. In case you’re wondering – yes, I’ll give you my autograph next time I see you. No biggie. 🙂

But in all seriousness, my small role serving at VBS this year has given me a new window into all that goes on behind the scenes to offer a polished, well-run, Biblically-sound program for the 50+ kids that attend this event.

Today I saw volunteers prepping spaces. I cannot count how many times I saw people setting up tables and tearing them down to place them in new locations. There were props and supplies being carted all over Concordia Academy and yet nothing seemed to ever be out of place. The logistics that go into something like this are astounding, and with Darcy at the helm and a fine group of volunteers, everything seemed to be just where it needed to be just when it needed to be. Volunteers were even tucked away in the kitchen an hour or so before lunch was served, preparing food for the kids. So much effort went into ensuring the teachers and kids had exactly what they needed when they needed it!

Today I saw volunteers caring for kids. Sometimes that meant comforting the shy and nervous ones who were at VBS for the first time. Sometimes that meant shuttling kids to and from the bathrooms. Sometimes that meant chasing the youngest ones down the auditorium stairs to retrieve them and bring them back to their row (thank goodness for those color-coordinated t-shirts!). Sometimes that meant kneeling down and listening – really listening – to how a child was doing. And sometimes that meant showing extra patience and grace to kids who were really hyped up on sugar. From the newest volunteers to the seasoned ones, each person exhibited a heart bent on service and love. Thinking about it again as I reflect on the day, the love and care each volunteer gave these kids – wow. We are blessed to have so many people like this in our church.

Today I saw kids learning about God’s love for them through the life of Paul. I listened as our guest musician Beth reinforced the details of today’s story. I watched as teachers used movement and games to teach the students today’s memory verse. I served at the snack station and saw other stations that were used to continue the theme of the day, ensuring kids were getting the point of all of this. Sure, the fun and games and prizes are great, but at the end of the day, we all do this because we want these children to grow up knowing the deep love of God and his gift to them in Jesus Christ.

Today I’m grateful for a church that is passionate about sharing the love of God with all ages, and I’m grateful for a place where there are so many people who give their time and their hearts to walk alongside these children and plant seeds of faith.

 

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A Steep Climb

By: Brenda Lortie

Autumn Rocky ClimbI don’t know about you, but I typically feel like I am missing the point despite trying hard to figure out who God wants me to be or what he wants me to do in this situation or that. Years ago a friend told me that I only need to regularly spend time with God, ask to know his will, actively listen, and then obey in the myriad small matters of everyday life. Practicing simple obedience, I could then assume I was walking in God’s will, unless he let me know otherwise. That was, and is, the whole point. It made perfect sense but also seemed too simple and I am masterful at making simple thinks complicated.

Decades, 5.5 to be more precise. That’s how long my learning curve has been. And it’s been a steep one. Here is the short list of life skills God has taught me in that time:

Grace. I recognize grace isn’t typically thought of as a skill but God set out to teach me Grace and despite being a remedial student, I have learned Grace. How to extend it to myself. God’s Grace convinced me that I was doing my best despite feeling like a failure. Believing this allowed me to love and (importantly) like myself.

Courage. Displaying courage doesn’t mean you don’t experience fear, it means doing what you’re afraid of. My modus operandi in life was fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being “found out,” fear of not having enough, fear of loss, even fear of gain since what was gained would inevitably be lost. I got up every day and put on my fear. God has daily prompted me to practice “couraging,” another word I have hijacked for my purposes. It means going outside the confined space I exist in to overcome the fears that would otherwise waste my days.

As I said, this is the short list. God only knows, but I will share with you, that there is much more to the story. More to come, as each day I scale new heights on the learning curve.

Photo credit: andyarthur via visualhunt.com/CCBY

The Progression of VBS

By: Deron Vaupel, Ministry Administrator

Vacation Bible School…those 3 words put together can elicit a huge range of emotions from utter joy to complete exhaustion. While I remember very little from my childhood VBS experiences, I do know that I got pretty excited about the songs, crafts, and snacks (the puppets were a bit scary). It’s possible that tucked away in the deep recesses of my brain is a lesson or a song that has proven somewhat meaningful in my life, but I do know at the very least that my VBS experiences as a kid helped me grow in my general understanding of God and my relationship with Jesus.

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In my twenties, I spent quite a bit of time working at Vacation Bible Schools, doing everything from games to music to lessons to puppets. Unlike when I was a kid, there are plenty of things that I remember all too well from those experiences. After playing a song or doing a puppet show for the umpteenth time, it can become so deeply ingrained that it will stick with you for the rest of your life (no matter how much you try to get rid of it).

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There are, however, plenty of great things that I remember from those years as well: the contagious excitement in the auditorium every morning as kids showed up, the expectation that they were going to learn something new about God each day, and the friendships that were built over the course of a couple days.

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Now as a parent, I find myself at a happy medium. Yes, I’m still in ministry and experience the exhaustion that comes with running around for 3 days making sure that groups of kids make it to all of their stations and find some deeper meaning to their experience. Some of the songs that I led way too much in my twenties still haunt me and become quite unwelcome earworms*. But I also see my son experiencing the same things I did when it comes to VBS: an excitement for the time with friends, happiness from singing silly songs together, a love for snacks, and an occasional nugget of truth about God.

As we prepare for VBS at enCompass (July 19-21), my hope and prayer is that any kids in your life will be able to join in with the exciting and exhausting experience that is VBS.

*earworm – a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing