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Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Registration open to preview LifeWay's 2017 VBS
By Lisa Cannon Green
Registration is open for Vacation Bible School leaders to preview "Galactic Starveyors," the 2017 VBS theme from LifeWay Christian Resources.
LifeWay will host preview events in three locations in January to provide leaders hands-on experience with the backyard astronomy theme.
"Galactic Starveyors" will prompt kids to look skyward and discover the Creator of the universe, said Rhonda VanCleave, LifeWay's VBS publishing team leader. "You see the stars and moon and you realize the God who created the universe is even bigger, yet He has a personal interest in you. He even knows how many hairs are on your head."
The theme emerged from stacks of survey cards filled out by youngsters attending LifeWay's CentriKid summer camps, she said. Kids' questions were deep, serious, and sometimes tough: How old is God? Where did He come from? What does God look like? If God loves us, why do bad things still happen?
"We felt God moving in our hearts to answer these questions kids are asking," VanCleave said. "VBS is always evangelistic, but next year the five days will really unpack the plan of salvation, piece by piece, in the format of answering questions kids have asked."
With the motto "Searching the visible, discovering the invisible," each day of next year's VBS will focus on God's relationship with humanity. On day one, participants learn God began the relationship at creation. On day two, they see the relationship broken by sin but learn God is still in control. On day three, they discover the promise of restoration through a Messiah; on day four, they see the promise fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ; and on day five they learn the relationship continues through the power of the Holy Spirit.
"We want kids to sense how awesome God is yet how much He cares about them," VanCleave said. "He knew them before time began, He has a plan for their lives, and He wants a relationship with them."
Theme verses for the week will be Colossians 1:15-16: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -- all things have been created through Him and for Him."
Vacation Bible School is one of the most effective methods of evangelism for churches, VanCleave said. Each summer nearly 3 million people participate in VBS at a Southern Baptist church, and more than 70,000 make decisions to trust Christ as Savior.
VBS 2017 Jump Start Kits will be available for purchase in early October to help with planning and promotion. Other resources are scheduled to be available in December.
Preview events will be Jan. 6-7 in Ridgecrest, N.C.; Jan. 13-14 in Fort Worth, Texas; and Jan. 26-28 (three events) in Hendersonville, Tenn., near Nashville.
Dr. Pat Ford became a Church Consultant for LifeWay Christian Resources in 2007 after 35 years of ministry in church, university, and seminary settings. He can be contacted at 832-725-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed on Twitter at @patford.
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