By Carl Stagner
Children’s ministry is set to make a big splash at this year’s Church of God Convention, and not just in the expansive swimming pools, water slides, and splash zone. Kid’s ministry programming has returned to the Convention, and it’s slated to be better-than-ever this summer at the World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida, a city home to Walt Disney World and other attractions families will love. Warner Press and Church of God Ministries have partnered together to create KidzLIVE!, an original VBS-like experience in the mornings and structured childcare in the evenings. Pastors and laypersons with children will be excited—and perhaps relieved—to know their kids will have a place of their own while they take in all that Convention 2019 and General Assembly has to offer.
“Big and Bold” is the theme of the morning VBS experience for children entering kindergarten through those who have just completed fourth grade. Each day, these children are invited to “join the circus” and discover the big and bold faith of classic Bible characters, including “David the Strong Man,” “Tangled Sisters Mary and Martha,” “Daniel the Lion-Tamer,” and “Jesus our Ringmaster.” Featuring fun games, creative crafts, a daily missionary visit, tasty snacks, and practical lessons, “Big and Bold” was conceived by Lori Bunyar, pastor of special events for Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City. Working in tandem with Regina Jackson and Robin Fogle of Warner Press, and by recruiting the dynamic ministry team of Solid Rock Church of God in Kissimmee, Florida, Lori and Church of God Ministries have overseen the creation of a Convention experience that will leave not only adults refreshed and challenged, but kids, too.
“When I first started attending Crossings,” Lori explains, “we participated in what’s called a ‘networking’ class to see what our spiritual gifts and passions are. One thing was very apparent: I had a passion for children’s ministry. I love to see the excitement and openness to hear and listen as we teach children about Jesus in a fun way.”
The first two Church of God Conventions held outside Anderson, Indiana, were at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City, beginning in 2014. Lori Bunyar’s work was instrumental in pulling the event off, so when the event moved to Wichita in 2017, she continued to walk alongside Church of God Ministries. When discussions began about bringing children’s ministry back to the Convention in 2019, Lori was an obvious go-to, not only with her extensive background in both events planning and children’s ministry, but also because she had written several original vacation Bible schools for Crossings Community Church.
“I’d heard from a lot of people that kid’s programming was part of the feedback to improve the event,” Lori recounts. “I’m so glad we’ve made the decision to bring it back. Families can come and know that their children will be cared for. And, in the evenings, it won’t just be babysitting, but it will be learning. It makes the Convention worthwhile for everyone.”
Donna Welch and Solid Rock Church of God team will staff and lead the evening childcare, also for kids entering kindergarten through those who have just completed fourth grade. Lori Bunyar will be bringing the technology from Crossings to the World Center Marriott to ensure safety through identification and correct parent-child matchups. Like the morning VBS experience, the evening childcare will offer kids the opportunity to stay active in a safe and caring environment, but with movies, time for free play, and conversation.
Regina Jackson will be on site to help produce KidzLIVE!. She’s delighted to be a part of not only the creation, but the implementation, as well. “Warner Press is excited to partner with Church of God Ministries this year as we launch a big and bold experience for the kids,” she explains. “What better way to see the kids experience this live event as they learn that they, too, can be bold in their faith. Warner Press is committed to publishing children’s ministry resources that will help develop and grow children in their faith, and to have an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. We continue to develop products that equip parents, families, pastors, and teachers, as they speak into a child’s life.”
Robin Fogle, kid’s ministry editor for Warner Press, assures parents that KidzLIVE! is a one-of-a-kind VBS that will delight and inspire the children attending Convention 2019 with their parents. “Nothing brings me greater joy than to create resources that encourage kids to grow in their faith, to live courageously for Jesus, and to share the good news with those around them. Every day I am blessed to be able to share teaching techniques I used over the years in working with kids from birth to sixth grade in my local church. The “Big and Bold” event gives us another wonderful opportunity to reach and teach kids fundamental truths from God’s Word in an exciting and engaging way that they will remember for years to come.”
To keep the experience alive far beyond Orlando, Warner Press will offer KidzLIVE! resources available at Convention 2019 for the local church to use. The Big and Bold curriculum book contains everything you need to know to create a fun, memorable, and educational ministry opportunity for kids. Advice and instruction are provided for decorations, snacks, and activities, along with complete lesson plans. These lessons will be spelled out step-by-step. Introductory games or activities, the main lesson, review questions, craft ideas, and snack ideas will be provided for each day.
Remember, there is no Convention 2019 registration fee for children under eighteen, but they still must be registered. Pre-registration is required for the KidzLIVE! morning Big and Bold VBS at www.jesusisthesubject.org/kidzlive for a modest fee. Dropoff evening childcare is $10 per child, per night, but does not require pre-registration.