Posted on : Wednesday April 1, 2009

By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent

COLUMBIA, Md.—Recently at Severn Run Church folks were using words like G’day mate, Aussie and Dingo. There were rumors of a kangaroo hopping around, though some whispered it was actually someone with a costume.Severn hosted a BCM/D annual regional VBS training expo. Visitors even got to watch Severn Run kids sing the music and do the motions for this year’s LifeWay VBS “Boomerang Express—It all comes back to Jesus,” set in the land down under—Australia.

Teachers become “outback guides” and students “kidaroos.” Their rotation sites include worship rally central, Bible study outback, music opera house, crafts crossing, missions harbor, recreation rock and G’Day café.

This year’s program follows the life of Peter, from his first encounter with Jesus, through his denying Christ, Jesus’ forgiveness of him and Peter then going into all the world to share the gospel.

“This is an especially good one,” June Holland, BCM/D’s children’s ministry missionary, said of  ‘Boomerang….’ “It’s set in a place most people will never go to and they get to say fun things like ‘G’day mate’ to each other.” Holland said the themes work together beautifully and having the music scenes filmed in Israel help drive home the salvation message.

The ABC song, which teaches kids how to admit they’re sinners, believe Jesus is God’s son and confess Him as their Lord and Savior, was filmed with Jerusalem in the background. Jeff Slaughter, LifeWay’s VBS music man, who writes the lyrics and music and performs them on video, sings the annual ballad in front of Jesus’ tomb.

“To shoot a video there with a song I wrote about salvation is so amazing,” Slaughter said in a previous interview by BaptistLIFE.

According to LifeWay’s website, “Vacation Bible School is the premiere outreach event of the year for many churches.” In addition to providing age appropriate ministry, VBS gives all church members a chance to be involved either in classes or helping. Teachers and assistants get valuable reusable training and opportunities for growth.

Holland said churches are learning from VBS. They’ve found that using a rotation system with kids moving from one area to another works best. Also, Holland said churches are growing and not just in numbers. They’re learning from year to year what to do to prepare for the next year. They’re getting wiser and planning earlier, networking with other churches and finding ways to promote and follow up.

She urges churches to come to the training sessions to prepare early. The conferences are held throughout the BCM/D area. They offer VBS workers hands-on training, tips and networking ideas for setting goals, establishing a VBS prayer ministry, all aspects of promoting, kick offs, administration, teaching and everything else VBS-related. Churches also get tried and true strategies for follow-up. And follow-up isn’t just about making phone calls and visits.

“Keep it going,” she encourages churches. “Have thrilling Tuesdays or wacky Wednesdays.

“Don’t let VBS end on Friday,” Holland said, reading from a LifeWay article of the same name.

Holland also urges churches to observe safety policies.

“Church is still looked at as a safe haven,” she said.

Holland said VBS is fun, easy and effective. People are saved and lives are forever changed. With “Boomerang Express…,” she said, “It does all comes back to Jesus.”

For more information about VBS, including safety information, see