All aboard for a week of exciting adventures as we climb aboard The Sunlight Express. This week we will take a journey that will lead us over Great Gorge, beside Mercy Meadows, around Fearless Falls, through Timeless Tunnel, and, finally, up Sonrise Summit. We will learn important truths about God’s Word as we travel to these different destinations.
While aboard the Sunlight Express, we will be looking at the theme Jesus and Me. Everything Jesus does is because of His love for us. The greatest demonstration of His love was at Calvary. The sinless Lamb of God willingly took our place and died in our stead because of His love. No greater love has ever been shown. Our Theme Verse is “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13. Jesus willingly laid down His life to purchase salvation for all mankind.
Vacation Bible School is a blessing. As you prepare for the week, one important thing is essential. Prayer! Pray that God will use you to be a blessing to others. Pray for the souls of the children who will be under your influence this week. Pray for the leadership of the Holy Spirit in your life. Pray that God will work in your life through VBS.
As you prepare for your lessons, I want to encourage you to dig into God’s Word. You may know the Bible story and feel comfortable teaching it, but I want to encourage you to study a little more. If you would take the time to search into the Word of God, you would find it full of helpful information. You want to be prepared for any questions that may arise.
You have a great opportunity this week. It is important for you to stress salvation in every lesson. Sadly, statistics show the number of people who accept the Lord decreases as they grow older, so we need to take every opportunity to share Christ this week. Always look for a teachable moment where you can reiterate salvation. Be prepared to share the plan of salvation.
(Darlene Walls, writer of the Junior material for VBS 2012, Sunlight Express)
Whether you are a novice or an experienced teacher, putting the following three teaching tips into practice will help you avoid having students leave the class with glazed eyes, bored and vowing never to come back.
The first tip involves decision-making. Make an effort to decide what and how much to teach. Avoid the WTMI syndrome—Way Too Much Information. Material for Vacation Bible School provides Bible-centered, age-appropriate lessons that contain lesson background material as well as teaching aids, games and craft ideas along with take home material for the students. A problem many teachers have is that they feel obligated to use every bit of information in the teacher’s guide and deliver it in the small amount of time allotted for a lesson. Teachers should keep in mind that the primary goal of their teaching is not to merely transfer information but to transform lives. Usually, there is more material provided in the teacher’s guide for a lesson than any teacher can use. This allows an astute teacher to choose how much of the material available is needed to effectively present the lesson.
The second tip deals with preparing each lesson. Use the Lesson Aim to decide what one fact or concept of that aim your students need most to understand. Then answer the following questions:
• How does the fact relate to students’ needs?
• What kind of help can be given for students to grasp the biblical or theological concept of the lesson?
• Can the specific concept be taught in the time allotted for the lesson?
• How many elements provided in the material can be used effectively in the allotted time?
• Will it be possible to measure the students’ understanding and application of the concept?
The third tip is to decide which learning method can best motivate students to learn. Learning methods refer to the most effective ways to convey lessons so students can and will apply them. The two most common methods are active learning and passive listening. Any learning method consists of verbal presentation, exercises, assignments and activities that lead students to examine the Bible in more detail. For young teens, active learning is better than passive listening. This method allows students to answer questions, offer opinions, search for appropriate Scriptures and share thoughts by taking part in discussions.
These tips are by no means the only ways teachers can better prepare and present a lesson to a group of young teens. However, they are procedures that should make for better lesson preparation. Anyone who wants to be a truly effective teacher needs one additional thing.
It is more than charisma. It is more than a dynamic voice and perfect inflection. It is more than amazing materials. That marvelous thing needed is LOVE! A teacher will find his effectiveness as a teacher increases exponentially when he truly loves every student in his class. Take a tip from a sports equipment company and “Just Do It!”
(Weeks Dubose, writer of the Young Teen material for VBS 2012, Sunlight Express)
Welcome to Vacation Bible School 2012, and congratulations on having the opportunity to teach teens. It is a sacred privilege and serious honor to be placed in the position of teaching people. This year’s Vacation Bible School stands in my estimation as one of the most profound themes of study that we could present to this generation of young people. If I could only instill in an individual five important truths, I would have to choose these five.
Jesus Saves, Jesus Leads, Jesus Cares, Jesus Leads, Jesus Returns.
I find nothing in life of greater importance, higher value or eminent usefulness than the subjects covered in the week’s lessons. Each lesson is a truth one cannot live without. These are not merely ornaments of truth that we decorate our spiritual minds with, these are the lessons that constitute the necessities not only of a life well-lived, but of a life lived, period. Teens are certainly at the age in which they are more than able to comprehend what each of these lessons will mean.
It is my prayer that these lessons will enrich your life as teacher, Christian and fellow servant of the Lord Jesus. Vacation Bible School may be the only opportunity that you have to touch the lives of some of these students. Do it well. Give yourself to the Lord first, the task second and, no doubt, God will do the things only God can do.
(Jeff Haney, writer of the Teen VBS material for VBS 2012, Sunlight Express)
Please refer to the illustration of the bulletin board idea. Make any changes to best suit your classroom or bulletin board size. You could give this board the title: All Aboard the Sunlight Express! This would also be a good title to place on the wall in another area of the room, especially in a place where daily attendance is posted.
Begin by placing blue paper at the top for a sky background. Next, overlay green paper that has been rounded at the top to make the horizon look like rolling hills. Take a black magic marker and add other lines in the green to create more hills in the background. Draw a simple highway that will cross the tracks at the crossing guard. A Fun Option: a border can be made by using inexpensive toy train track or make your own track from cut Popsicle sticks.
The Primary Visuals contain a train as shown in the illustration. Cut out the train engine. The Series Aim is preprinted for you on four railroad icons. These icons are to be cut out and placed along the tracks and hills. You will need to make poles for the crossing signs with brown paper. You could also make an intersection, add a depot or railroad cars behind the engine. Included in the Primary Visuals are railroad tracks and the Theme Verse and reference printed on a puff of smoke. Instead of one bulletin board, this idea could stretch across the length of the wall or around the room.
You could give the bulletin board a 3-D effect by placing items of thickness behind each shape for the train to slightly protrude from the flat surface. You could do the same with the other signs using different thicknesses to create dimension and depth.
(Found in the Primary Teacher Manual for VBS 2012, Sunlight Express)
The theme assimilates the experience of taking a scenic ride on a train with students taking their own ride through the gospel story of Jesus Christ. There are five destinations where students will stop. The passenger car almost always operates at the end of a train. The walls of the car usually were curved together to form a large U shape, and larger windows were installed around the end of the car. Some passenger cars had a roofed porch area. At the end of the car there was almost always a comfortable place to sit where passengers could enjoy the view as they watched the track rapidly fade into the distance.
Primary passengers aboard the Sunlight Express will be making stops at Great Gorge, Mercy Meadows, Fearless Falls, Timeless Tunnel and Sonrise Summit.
THEME SETTINGS AND CHARACTERS
Check with your VBS director to see how he or she plans to implement the theme to best suit your church. Listed below are suggested ways to organize activities and make the theme work while teaching the gospel story of Jesus Christ.
Room Settings: Train cars on an old-fashioned train
Assembly: Sunlight Station
Lesson: Passenger Car
Music: Melody Coach
Crafts: Craft Caboose
Snacks: Snack Car
Games: Boxcar Games
Missions: Outreach Baggage Car
Characters: Passengers and attendants on the train
Director: Station Master
Craft-Game-Music-Snack Leaders: Crew
The world is rushing by. Days turn to months and months to years. Somewhere in the distance you can hear the sound of a train whistle, long and low, almost like a sad song. The noise of everyday living makes it difficult to hear. A world of people who are overindulged in pleasure and entertainment can barely hear it at all. For those who are waiting on a train, the sound of the whistle brings hope and joy. As a train slowly approaches, small rumbles make one take notice for a moment, but other sounds distract. The increasing noise of the engine and the shaking of the ground are proof the locomotive is on its way. When the huge and powerful train arrives and the loud whistle blows, everyone knows it is time to yield to the force and speed passing by.
This VBS theme is events of Jesus and what He has done for all people. His great love for sinful mankind was demonstrated by His coming to earth and dying in our place, then, rising from the dead to live and intercede for all who will come to Him in repentance and faith. Like many who do not notice the train approaching in the distance, people today are too busy or too blinded by the deception of Satan and the entrapments of sin to hear the approaching warnings. This VBS will teach students that Jesus promised to come back again. We should be ready and watching for that great day! At His coming, all will yield to His power and greatness.
The history of the railroad is one of great hardship followed by great accomplishment and reward. The railroad advanced travel and communication in all parts of the globe. Modern science continued to expand the efficiency and capability of trains. As trains hit peak speeds of over two hundred miles per hour and the rail system became available in most areas of the world, other modes of travel became more popular. Air travel moved forward. Automobiles rolled off assembly lines by the thousands. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s miles of rail were abandoned or ripped up.
Pray this does not happen to the gospel train in your life. Many Christians are guilty of allowing other things to distract them from their first love (Revelation 2:4). Taking a fresh ride on the Sunlight Express will be a great course to remind us of the redeeming work Christ has done in the lives of His children. There are times we need to remember what great things He has done for us. These lessons will also be a valuable tool to teach children that Christ wants to save them and help them live an abundant life.
The Sunlight Express teaches that everything Jesus does for me is because He loves me. The aim of the series is to teach students how to receive Christ as Savior, follow His leadership, trust His care, and believe in His resurrection and return. The five lessons will teach Jesus saves, leads, cares, lives and will return someday. This VBS will be a call to salvation for Primary students who are not yet saved, and it will help those who have already been saved to trust Jesus in their everyday walk of life. John 10:10 plainly teaches that Jesus wants His children to live an abundant life confidently trusting in Him for all things.
(Rhonda Blackerby, writer of the Primary material for VBS 2012, Sunlight Express)
VBS 2012 Video: Sunlight Express Introduction
Watch this 5 minute video as Bro. Larry Clements, Editor in Chief, introduces VBS 2012, Sunlight Express – Jesus & Me. He gives an overview of the theme and the five scheduled stops for all who take the journey on the Sunlight Express.
A Message from Julie, to the Directors
All aboard! The Sunlight Express, Jesus and Me, will soon be departing. Our first stop on our journey will be at the Great Gorge where we’ll learn how to receive Jesus Christ as Savior. Our second stop will be at Mercy Meadows. There we will learn the importance of following Jesus. Then, we will head over to Fearless Falls where we may get a little wet. We’ll learn how to trust Jesus in difficult times. Next, we’ll head through the Timeless Tunnel where we’ll hear about Christ’s resurrection and what it means. Our last stop will be at Sonrise Summit. There we will learn about Christ’s return and how to be prepared. While aboard the Sunlight Express we’ll discover that Jesus saves us, leads us, cares for us, lives for us and will return for us because He loves us!
In preparation for this life-changing VBS, use this book as a guide to help you through the process from beginning to end. As you prepare to take on the task of being the VBS director, spend time alone in prayer. Pray for the staff, teachers, children and their families that through Vacation Bible School many lives will be changed eternally. That’s really what it’s all about! For some kids, VBS is the only time they will hear about Jesus and the gift He has given us, so take advantage of the time you have with them. All aboard and away we go!
(Julie Callison, writer of the Director’s Plan Book for VBS 2012, Sunlight Express)