If you’re involved in Children’s Ministry in some way, then you know that summer is “that” time of year!  You prepare for one of the most popularized forms of Children’s Ministry outreach – the craziness known as Vacation Bible School.  At SVCC, it’s easily the most anticipated week of the year, and much time, resources, and prayer surrounds this very event.

Everyone does VBS (or, in our case, VBA – Vacation Bible Adventure) differently.  I always enjoy hearing about the methods used/avoided by other churches, so I thought I’d share what we do.  I would absolutely love to hear how you and your church does this.  As Children’s Ministers, we’re a Faith Community…and the networking of ideas and resources is one of the many ways we can stay connected and support one another!

With that said, here’s what we do.

-VBA takes place the last week of June.  It takes a lot to prepare for it, so we don’t want to overwhelm those volunteers by having them spend the majority of their summer preparing.

-6pm to 8:30pm, Mon.-Fri. = more volunteers available to serve since it’s at night.

-VBA is available to children who are age 4 (by July 31st) thru 6th grade of the upcoming school year.  It is free of charge.  We also have a nursery component, available for children ages 3 and under.  Their parents must be volunteers.

-We develop our own curriculum each year.  ‘Soul Wars’ derived from Star Wars.  We like to choose a theme that’s easy for kids to connect to.  “May the FAITH be with you.”  Faith was the centerpiece of our daily Bible Stories and Themes:

  • Monday: By FAITH, Gideon was VICTORIOUS!
  • Tuesday:  By FAITH, Esther was BRAVE!
  • Wednesday: By FAITH, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said NO!
  • Thursday: By FAITH, Jesus fought TEMPTATION!
  • Friday:  By FAITH in Jesus, I am SAVED!

-Church Workdays (Saturdays) are established so that volunteers can come to the campus and work on a construction assignment.  We lean heavily on the set designs and environment.  Lots of work has to be done so that the Death Star can indeed be on our stage 😉

-Meetings are coordinated ahead of time for each area: Construction, Crew Leaders, Craft, Snack, Pre-K, Nursery, Games, Skits, Song, etc.  The night before VBA, we have a volunteer meeting/rally to get everyone psyched up for the week, and for prayer!

-The format: Opening – Rotation Time – Closing.

  •  Opening = Welcome, Worship, Soul Wars Skit.  All ages start together, and then split to their areas for rotation (early childhood, pre-k, elementary).
  • Rotation Time
  •      Snack: We offer a free dinner each night for the kids.  Pizza night, burger night, hot dogs, PB &J, etc.  We partner with local businesses and have some financial support from the congregation to make this possible.
  •      Craft:  We made flutes, necklaces, bracelets, and light sabers.
  •      Song:  Each day, the song crew taught the kids a new worship song with motions, while reinforcing the Bible Point and Bible Verse.
  •      Bible:  Brand new story each day that reinforces the theme.  The Gospel was presented to the kids on the last day…and over 200 kids responded in some way!  Praise Jesus!
  •      Game:  This year we did something a bit different with this station.  We had four sets of games that the groups rotated through when they were at the game station.  The kids loved having variety each day!

*Other important elements:

  • Dress Up Days:  (Monday = VBA Shirt Day, Tuesday = Crazy Hair/Hat Day, Wednesday = Wacky/Nerdy Day, Thursday = Star Wars Day, Friday = Water Day).  On water day, we rent water slides for the kids to enjoy!
  • Missions Challenge:  We encouraged the kids to take part in a Missions Project to support a local (School Supplies/Backpacks for kids in Lemoore), national (Disaster Relief for the city of Joplin), and international (Furaha Center in Kenya) ministry.  We made it a friendly competition between the boys and girls!  The boys were ‘victorious’ – but the victory really comes by seeing 710 kids raise over $4000 to bless people in the name of Jesus!
  • Community:  One of my favorite things about VBA is seeing how it brings people together through serving.  These people may not have been connected at all if not for this opportunity – so it’s awesome to see how people work alongside each other in order to bless the kids.
  • Support:  Every single pastor at our church is heavily involved in our VBA.  Every.  Single.  Pastor.  They build, they write, they rehearse, they dress up, they lead stations, they lead kids to Christ, they make runs to Home Depot/Lowe’s.  This isn’t common…and I am so blessed to work with a staff that believes so deeply in the importance of children’s ministry!  One of our pastors’ wife is our VBA director, and she is A-MA-ZING!  She has an amazing heart for kids, and a wealth of experience with VBA.

Anyhow…that’s the gist of it. I am so very thankful for all who have made this year’s VBA possible.  Whether your were visible to the public or behind the scenes, your faithfulness and willingness blessed HUNDREDS of kids and parents.  I praise God for you!

For my fellow kidmin friends, please know that I am praying for you and your teams as you minister to your kids…whether through a VBS, or through your normal modes of operation!

May the FAITH be with you! 🙂

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It’s that time of year for all of us children’s ministry folks!  Summer is just around the corner, and I’m sure that many of you are preparing for your church’s Vacation Bible School (or equivalent, thereof).

This year’s SVCC Vacation Bible Adventure (VBA) is called “Soul Wars.”  We’ll be focusing on stories relating to extreme measures of faith in Bible.  The phenomenon that is Star Wars will be our connecting element for this – which is super exciting!

Two weeks ago, we began practices for our Song Crew – which is the team that leads our VBA kids in worship during the week.  In the past, I’ve focused a lot on getting the kids to know the motions and the words to the songs.  This year, I’ve taken on a different approach.  I really want to see these team grow in their worship of God, and in their service for others – in addition to knowing the truth behind the songs.

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With that in mind, we begin each rehearsal with a devotional.  It’s great to dig into the Word together, share our thoughts, and determine the appropriate application.  Also, team members must serve in children’s ministry (Nursery, Pre-K, or Elementary) at least two weekends a month.  This will hopefully help them develop that desire to serve, and help them see what they’ll be looking forward to!

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It’s been fun working with all 29 of these cray-cray kids!  Looking forward to what God will do in and through them this year.  Check out a bit of a preview of what’s to come with one of our new VBA songs!

Have a great day….and may the faith be with you!

I love birthdays.  They’re a lot of fun – especially for us big kids 🙂

I remember elebrating my birthday in Kindergarten.  Mrs. Saxton always made birthday crowns for her students’ birthdays, which had our name and age on it.  I remember being so excited when my day to be “crowned” finally came!  We got to wear it all day – so everyone knew it was our birthday.  When I really think about it, the crown wasn’t really wasn’t anything spectacular, but it really made all of us feel special.

Each week at the Kid Connection (our elementary ministry at SVCC), we have a segment during our service called “Is it Yo’ Birthday?!”  If any one of the kids celebrated a birthday in the recent week, they are asked up to the stage.  They share their name, and their age.  We then clap their age for them (so if they’re 11, we clap 11 times as a group).  After that, we all sing to the birthday kid(s), but we usually do it in some sort of different way (i.e. plugging our nose, like we don’t have teeth, in a really high voice, etc.).  The kids enjoy it!  After their song, they get to pick a prize from the prize box to take home.  I just recently made a Target run and did a bit of restocking of said prize box:

Birthdays are special days for kids.  They’re special way for anyone, really.  It’s a great way to affirm and celebrate a life.  If anyone hasn’t told you this lately: your life is unique, purpose-filled, and beautiful!  I’m thankful that you are a part of mine!

By the way…Happy Birthday to: Robin Gail Acierto, Will Knapp, Marlene Bruce, Scott Dean, Maria Licea, Erica Ruse, Bob Pugh, and Kim Bassett! 🙂

My boys…

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Last night, I took my CLUB 456 Small Group to Chili’s and Coldstone for our hangout night.  We’ve done things like this in the past….but something really hit me last night:  I’ve had these boys since they were in the 4th grade.  They’re heading into the 7th grade in just a few short months.  Before I know it, they’ll be out of children’s ministry and heading straight into youth ministry.  That’s cray-cray! :’S

These boys are crazy.  They say random things.  They do random things.  They make random noises.  They’re loud.  They smell funny.  But we’ve also shared some pretty remarkable times together.  We’ve studied together.  We’ve discussed difficult topics together.  We’ve laughed together.  We’ve prayed together and for each other.  We’ve made fun of each other.  I’m really going to miss them – and I’m so glad to see how much they’ve grown over the years.  I pray that God will continue to bless their spiritual growth, and that they always know that they are extremely loved!

Love my boys!

 

On April 20th, 2003, I woke up and went to an Easter Sunrise Service in Hanford (Calvary Chapel) at the Fairgrounds. I was pretty tired – I don’t even think Jesus was up yet…but it was a gorgeous morning, and a wonderful time of fellowship. After it was over, I had breakfast at my friend Luke’s house here in Lemoore – where his mom (Kathy) made these incredible breakfast scones. Have mercy, those things were good.

Shortly after that, I headed back to Hanford for Calvary Chapel’s Easter Service at Hanford High. It was a great service as we reflected on Jesus’ tremendous sacrifice for us, and His rising into heaven. The Pastor gave a gospel presentation, the worship leader was playing/singing “All Who Are Thirsty,” and I realized something:

I was thirsty.

Thank You for prompting my heart that very moment, Lord Jesus. I am so humbled that you desire a relationship with me, and have never abandoned me – even through my stupidity!

Posted: April 21, 2012 in Life
Tags: , , ,

We’ve got a midweek (or….beginning-of-the-week) program called CLUB 456 at SVCC.  It’s a discipleship ministry designed for 4th-6th graders who want to dig deeper in their relationship with Christ.  The typical format for Monday evenings at club = fellowship time, large group game, and small groups.  As you can see, we had some serious [modified] dodgeball action a bit ago 🙂

This recent Monday, our Children’s Director/Club 456 Ministry Leader facilitated a large group lesson for the kids.  It was a lesson on serving, which originated from Beth Guckenberger’s book entitled “Tales of the Not Forgotten.”  Check out her book and her leader’s guide.  Some really encouraging stories to utilize as resources to encourage others to serve.

At the end of the lesson, the kids were given a plastic ziplock bag, a snack to put into the bag, and a card.  The card held information about local establishments that provide food services for those in need.  The kids (and their families) were encouraged to meet a homeless person, and give this snack bag to them.  They were even able to write a note of encouragement to them – which was really great to see.

This simple activity was a great way to help the kids connect with how they could actively serve others around them.  It’s certainly easy for us to do things like this every once in a while, but the real challenge lies in how we perpetuate the spirit of service to those around in us in the name of Jesus continually.  What can you be doing – in your family, your school, your church, your community, your whatever – on a consistent basis?  Pray about it – and act on it!  It’s through God-centered love and service that we make an invisible God, a visible God.

You could imagine how busy it can get in order to prepare for Easter…especially when you’re involved in ministry!  It was all very much worth it in the end:

 

Each year, the Lemoore Recration Department puts on an egg hunt for community kids, ages 12 and under.  Last year, SVCC donated 12,000 candy-filled eggs to the event.  This year, we challenged the church to donate 20,000…and boy, did they accept that challenge!  They donated 22,395 candy-filled eggs!  You should’ve seen our office…it was like, the Easter Bunny used our office as its headquarters!  Great job, SVCC!  Way to bless the community!

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 On the day of the event (April 7th), thousands of people came to Lions Park to take part in the festivities.  It was so great to see so many familiar faces, and meet new families.  Members of our church helped “hide” eggs, provide eggs for kids who didn’t get much from the hunt, run the prize table, run our church’s popcorn machines, and helped clean after the event.  What a great opportunity to serve our community, and be a reflection of Christ – as best as we can!  Huge thanks to all who sponsored the event – these kids were elated to be there!

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Of course, the cuteness factor at the egg hunt was off the charts…especially when these two showed up! (Oren, age 5…and Aurora, age 3).  They even used the Easter baskets I gave them last year! 😀

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SVCC hosted a service on Saturday and two on Sunday.  It was really a blessing to celebrate our Risen Lord with so many people!  Over 340 kids joined us in our Children’s Ministry.  The highlight, I would have to say, was seeing 60 elementary-aged kids give their lives to Christ over the weekend!  What a huge praise to God that was to witness.  Thank you Lord, for working in the lives of these kids, and for putting so many wonderful volunteers in place to minister to these kids and their families! 

 

“We raise our White Flag…we surrender all to you…all for you!”

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One final tidbit about how I survived the pre-Easter madness:  A “to-do” list.  I never really did these before (well…document them, anyway), but man…it really helped me to stay on task with what needed to be done (and it also helped me feel a sense of accomplishment!).  I continued to adopt it this week – and it’s been super helpful!  Each day when I come to the office, I sit and think about what needs to be done and type those things onto the list.  When I complete a task, I cross it off.

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My personal favorite part of my week was Monday 😉

-Marcus

I’m one that will listen to the same song over…and over…again.  This is especially true when it speaks to my heart.  I heard this one last week, and it couldn’t be a more accurate expression of my current cries to God.  It’s absolutely beautiful – and it helps that Brooke Fraser is singing lead on this!

[Verse 1]
May my prayer like incense rise before You
The lifting of my hands as sacrifice
Oh Lord Jesus turn Your eyes upon me
For I know there is mercy in Your sight

Your statutes are my heritage forever
My heart is set on keeping Your decrees
Please still my anxious urge toward rebellion
Let Love keep my will upon its knees

[Chorus]
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You

[Verse 2]
To all creation I can see a limit
But Your commands are boundless and have none
So Your Word is my joy and meditation
From the rising to the setting of the sun

All Your ways are loving and are faithful
The road is narrow but Your burden light
Because You gladly lean to lead the humble
I shall gladly kneel to leave my pride

[Chorus]

[Selah]
To all creation I can see a limit
But Your commands are boundless and have none
So Your Word is my joy and meditation
From the rising to the setting of the sun

[Chorus]

[Bridge]
I will seek You in the morning
I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

I read the following just now.  Thought I’d share:

“There is nothing ordinary about access to God—yet sometimes we take this privilege for granted. He is almighty God, but He is also our Father who loves us and allows us to call on Him at any moment of any day. Now that’s extraordinary!” (Our Daily Bread – 04/02/12)

Amen.

This morning/early afternoon was pretty active.  Stressful…and at times – and even a bit too much.  However, God still brought joy!

  • Worked on a project with some 5th/6th graders where they had to describe God by cutting out words/pictures from newspapers/magazines.  It was really amazing to see how creative they got, and to see the words/pictures they used.
  • One of my kids today asked me about healthy ways to express her feelings.  So awesome!
  • A couple of shy kids came out of their shell a little bit, which was great to see!  I especially loved seeing the relief their parents had to see their child happy.
  • 1st/2nd graders are some of the funniest kids on the planet.  Period.
  • Sang happy birthday to 4 kids during service; one of them turned 12 today…and I remember holding him when he was 2!
  • Had a meeting with some of our Toddler Room staff today.  So great to hear them talk about ideas on how to improve our system and our environment for the kids.  It was also great to see how much they’ve enjoyed some of the already-established improvements!
  • Had lunch with two wonderful people who volunteer in children’s ministry.  It’s so refreshing to hear how they’ve been enjoying their marriage, and how they are embracing their call to ministry.
  • Got to hang out with a friend who has just undergone shoulder surgery recently.  Been praying for him a lot, and I am glad to see him recovering well.
  • Cuddled and had tickling wars with my favorite 3 & 5 year olds.  It really warms my heart! :’)  It was also wonderful to be able to just relax and hang out with the family…and eat Popeye’s Chicken (holla!).

I’m so thankful for these joyful moments.  It’s tangible moments like these, that make our invisible God more and more visible to me.