Introduction: The Craziest (and Best?) Thing I Did as a Pastor
I want to share with you the craziest thing I did as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. Who knows, it might just have been the best thing I did as well. Allow me to explain.
When I began my pastoral tenure at Irvine Presbyterian Church in 1991, I immediately faced a tricky decision. My church hosted a two-week-long Vacation Bible School each summer. It was a hit with church families as well as folks from the community. But VBS presented a problem for our worship services, since it met in the same place where adults gathered on Sunday. The lay leaders in charge of VBS completely changed the look of our sanctuary, filling it with thematic decorations and props. But, every year they had to clean up everything for Sunday worship between the two VBS weeks and then put it back up again. That process took a couple-dozen people at least a dozen hours.
So, when I showed up as the new pastor, our children’s director seized her opportunity and asked if they could leave up the VBS decorations. Our worship director was most unhappy with this possibility, since it would distract adults who came to worship on Sunday morning. After listening to both sides, I suggested a compromise. Some decorations would be removed; the large and unwieldy ones could stay. Neither director was happy with me, but that was my decision.
As I attended some of the VBS sessions that year, I was impressed by the exuberance of the children in their worship. How different from our quiet, reverent Sunday morning traditions. I wondered to myself what would happen if, during the next summer, we let VBS worship spill over into Sunday morning. I expected our worship director wouldn’t be happy. But maybe the congregation would worship with greater freedom and joy, even childlikeness. Plus, we could leave up the VBS décor, which would save our committed leaders lots of time and energy.
That’s exactly what we did in 1992. The theme was “The Kingdom of the Sun.” Our sanctuary was filled with a castle, a throne room, and various other types of kingdom paraphernalia. We left it all up on Sunday morning. Moreover, we let the VBS band lead worship, with lots of kingdom oriented songs like “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God” and “King Jesus is All.” With the VBS kids taking the lead, soon almost everyone in our sanctuary was clapping, singing with joyful abandon to the King of kings.
After the service was over, I braced myself for lots of criticism. But it never came. Dozens of mature, faithful members of Irvine Presbyterian told me they loved the service. Many said it was their favorite service of the year. Others encouraged me to do this sort of thing every year. Honestly, I don’t remember one word of complaint. Even my worship director acknowledged that what happened was both joyful and God-honoring.
Given the reverential tradition of the church, it might have been crazy to try worshiping in such an “out-there” mode. But there is solid biblical precedent for being a fool for Christ. Moreover, I loved the fact that the children of the church were not just doing some sort of cameo appearance in an otherwise a “grown-up” worship service. They were leading the adults with their singing, clapping, and all-around exuberance. In fact, they were helping the very mature adults of the congregation discover, if even for just an hour, how to enter the kingdom of God like children.
In fact, we did indeed continue to let VBS provide the theme and music for one Sunday of worship services each summer, even when we stopped doing two weeks of VBS and no longer had the clean up/set up issue. VBS worship is part of what I would call the craziest thing I did as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian church . . . but only a small part. The strangest is yet to come. . . .
In my last article for The Pastor’s Workshop, I began to describe the craziest (and perhaps the best) thing I did as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. It had to do with our Vacation Bible School program, which used the church’s sanctuary for its large group activities. When I arrived at the church in 1991, this overlap of space usage had created conflict between the worship director, who wanted the sanctuary free of all VBS decor for Sunday “adult” worship services, and the children’s director, whose volunteers didn’t want to spend wasted hours taking down the elaborate decorations and then putting them up again for the second week of VBS. My solution to this conflict was to allow the VBS decorations to remain in the sanctuary, and, in fact, to have our “adult” worship reflect the themes and songs of VBS. The results of this decision far exceeded my expectations, because the adults in the church thoroughly enjoyed a VBS-type worship experience. This became a beloved tradition in the church, one that has continued in the years following my departure as pastor. (Sometimes even grown ups like to be childlike as they celebrate God’s grace.)
Was this the craziest thing I did as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church? Partly. But, in fact, it was only the context in which my foolishness for Christ fully manifested itself. So here’s the rest of the story.
In my third summer at the church, I decided to try an experiment in our VBS Sunday morning worship. Rather than preaching a “grown up” sermon as I had done in the previous years, I preached in character. I chose to play the role of Lucky, the young man in Acts 20 who feel asleep during Paul’s sermon and fell out of the window, only to be resurrected after he died from his fall. (The man’s Greek name was Eutychus, which means “lucky” or “fortunate.”) So, I dressed up in a suitable costume and narrated “my” story, focusing on how God raised me from the dead after my three-story fall led to my death. The theological point had to do with God’s grace and power for our lives.
That sermon was a hit, not only among the VBS kids, but also among the adults. They seemed to like the idea that their pastor could have some fun while teaching the Bible. So, the next year I did another biblical character, telling a first-person story of Paul and his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Once again, my in-character sermon seemed to have a powerful and positive impact. I was encouraged to be even more creative in the next summer’s VBS.
More creative I was. In 1995, I played the role of St. Peter. But I did so in the form of Rocky Balboa. As you probably know, Peter’s name means “Rocky,” more or less. But it seemed to me that both Rocky and Peter had several characteristics in common (courage, foot-in-mouthness, passion, strength). I dressed up, not in Bible lands garb, but rather in gym sorts and a sleeveless t-shirt. I entered to the Rocky theme music, jogging around the sanctuary, punching the air. Then I told the first-person story of Peter in an urban Philadelphia accent. (I worked for hours on this one, watching the Rocky movies and trying to imitate Sylvester Stallone.) It was exhausting, fun, and brought Peter’s experience of God’s grace to life.
Just about everyone at Irvine Presbyterian Church that day loved my sermon, except perhaps for one visitor. Between services, I was hiding out behind the sanctuary. One of our elders found me and said I needed to come with him to meet a special visitor. I pointed to my sweat drenched clothing and suggested this was a bad idea, but he insisted. So he led me to meet Dr. D. James Kennedy, one of the most famous pastors in America. He was in Southern California on vacation and had decided to visit Irvine Pres. I tried to explain to Dr. Kennedy why I was dressed as I was, but he seemed perplexed. He did sit through the whole second worship service, but appeared to be rather uncomfortable. Afterwards, he did not come through the line to greet me. I fear he might have thought my whole VBS worship idea was truly crazy.
In the following years, I continued to play various characters on VBS Sunday. In time, I was joined by one of my associate pastors and one of my elders. Every year, Tim, Emmett, and I would act out a “sermon skit” that underscored the theological point of VBS and fit with the VBS theme. Eventually, we ended up doing this skit every day during VBS as well as in worship on Sunday morning. My dramatic roles included: Indiana Jonah, a friar narrating the story of the Great King, a pirate, a goofy carpenter, a surfer dude, Hans from Saturday Night Live’s Hans and Franz sketch, a hillbilly, Tim the Tool Man Taylor from Tool Time, Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter, and James Bond.
I expect you might agree that what I’ve just described was the craziest thing I ever did as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. But you might be wondering why I suggest that it might also be the best thing I did as pastor. Let me briefly explain what I’m thinking.
I mentioned that the adults in the church loved VBS Sunday worship. There were equally enthusiastic about my in-character “sermons.” Their positive response reflected their appreciation for my involvement in our church’s children’s ministry. Through my silly sermons and skits, I was saying “Evangelism and discipleship of children really matter.” Moreover, the adults in the church seemed to like seeing their pastor in a playful mode. I think it gave them permission to be more childlike in their own faith and life.
But, by far the most significant result of my VBS “preaching” was my relationship with the children of the church. Because I was so involved in their world, they felt personally connected to me. They sensed, I think, that I was working hard to be with them, to communicate in their language, and to have fun with them. My crazy participation in VBS helped the children of the church to feel as if I was their pastor too. After I started doing my VBS characters, all of a sudden the kids in the church would approach me on the patio, saying things like “Hi, Pastor Mark. I know who you are. You’re a pirate! Arrr!” Moreover, as a pirate or a surfer or a hillbilly, I was able to teach the children of the church some of the most significant truths of the faith.
So, was VBS role-playing the best thing I did as a parish pastor? In the end, I think I’d say that my faithful teaching of God’s Word, week in and week out, was the most valuable activity of my sixteen-year pastorate at Irvine Pres. But that’s exactly what I was doing through my VBS characters, albeit in an unusual mode. Moreover, I was able to bring joy into our congregational life and worship while affirming children and building deep relationships with them. All of that counts for a lot, don’t you think?
And Now for a Little Fun . . . The Fa-root of the Spirt!
VBS Skit 2003
Every summer my church sponsors Vacation Bible School for children 4 through 12. But VBS is anything but school. It’s an extravaganza of fun and food, all meant to convey solid biblical themes. The theme of this year’s VBS was “The Fruit of the Spirit in the Country Fair.”
For the last several years I’ve been centrally involved in VBS, playing a character in a skit that teaches as it entertains. Along with other leaders from my church, I get to ham it up for the sake of our children. My associate pastor Tim and I were country bumpkins. Joining us was Farmer Fran, played by our friend Emmett. This year Tim and I had our sons join us on Thursday. The story for the day was The Prodigal Son, and the theme was Patience. So, with no further ado, here’s the skit:
[Mark and Tim enter to music.]
Mark: Well, if it ain’t Cousin Tim! I’ll be hogtied and hootenanied! How y’all doin’, Cousin Tim?
Tim: Fine, fine, Cousin Mark. I’ve been happier than a sow in a slop silo! So how’ve y’all been doin’ there, Cousin Mark?
Mark: Well, I’ve been finer than a maggot in a manure pile, Cousin Tim. I’m havin’ a great time here at VBS.
Tim: Yeah, me too. We’ve been learnin’ ‘bout the fa-root of the Spirt. [to the kids] Hey, y’all. What’ve we been learnin’ ‘bout in VBS?
All: The fa-root of the Spirt!
Mark: Yep. That’s right. Yesterday we Farmer Fran teached us all ‘bout peace. We don’t have to worry ‘bout food or clothing, ‘cuz God takes care of us. And the Holy Spirit gives us peace.
Tim: But, Cousin Mark, I’m not feelin’ peaceful right now.
Mark: Well why not, good buddy? What’s been eatin’ y’all?
Tim: My son done run off. Yep, that’s what he did alright. He all my money out of my wallet and done run off. I think he’s in the big city right now, spendin’ the money on sinnin’!
Mark: Like what kinda sinnin’?
Tim: Sinnin’! Bad sinnin’! You know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout. I mean goin’ to movin’ pictures and playin’ video games and eatin’ French fries. Stuff like that.
Mark: Yeah, that stuff’s badder than a bat in yer bathroom.
Tim: I’m so mad at that boy, I could just tan his hide. When he gets home, there’s gonna be some big cryin’, let me tell you! I can hardly wait until he gets home to paddle his pattutie. Yessiree, there’s a gonna be some cryin’!
Mark: You know what, my boy done run off too. And he took my money. Maybe he’s with yer boy, sinnin’ in the big city. I want him home right now. I don’t wanna wait. I can’t stand it. And when he gets home, bang zoom! There’s a gonna be some real cryin’’.
Tim: Yeah, but I can’t stand the wait. I’m made, and kinda worried too.
Mark: Me too. I can’t wait neither. I want those boys home NOW!
Tim: Yep, NOW!
[Farmer Fran enters]
Emmett: Hey, what’re ya’ll doin’? Why’re y’all yellin’?
Mark: Hi there Farmer Fran. We been yellin’ ‘cuz our boys done disappeared, and we want them back right now. NOW!
Tim: Yeah. We want them back so we can make them feel some pain for what they done to us. There’s gonna be some big cryin! But I can’t wait.
Mark: I can’t wait, neither. And I’m kinda worried.
Tim: Yeah, me too.
Emmett: What’s wrong with you boys? Ain’t y’all good Christian boys? You need some PATIENCE.
Mark: Yeah, we are good Christian boys. We do need some patience. But, Farmer Fran, how do we get patience? We don’t feel very patient at all.
Emmett: Patience is part of the fa-root of the Spirt. You get patience from God.
Tim: Oh, I see. Patience is part of the fa-root of the Spirt. We get patience from God.
Emmett: Jesus told a story ‘bout a daddy like y’all. His son took his money and went far away to the big city. There he wasted all his money until he was dirt poor.
Mark: I bet his daddy was so mad. I bet his daddy couldn’t wait to tan his hide.
Emmett: No. His daddy waited, but he had patience, like the fa-root of the Spirit.
Tim: So what happened? Did the bad boy ever git home?
Emmett: Yeah he did. He came home to his daddy.
Mark: Oh boy. I wager there was some serious hide tanning, with lotsa cryin’.
Tim: We’ll I’ll be. The daddy The daddy was so glad to see his boy that he ran to him and hugged him and kissed him and FORGAVE him.
Mark: That’s the fa-root of the Spirt. Patience, and love and joy too. Thank you, Farmer Fran, for hepin’ us to learn ‘bout the fa-root of the Spirit and patience. I’m feeling more patient right now.
Tim: Yeah, me too.
[Aaron and Nathan enter together from the flower room, with, looking sad and scared. They start talking when they get to the front row.]
Aaron: Yeah, Cousin Nate. I’m scared too. My daddy’s gonna tan my hide.
Nathan: Yeah, my daddy’s gonna beat my behind all the way to Beantown.
Aaron: Oh no, they see us!
Mark: Cousin Tim, look there’s our boys!
Tim: You’re right, Cousin Mark. Our boys!
[Mark and Tim run to Aaron and Nathan]
Aaron: Daddy, I’m so sorry fer what I’ve done.
Nathan: Yeah, me too, Daddy.
Mark: We forgive you boys, we’re just so glad you’re home. (Starts hugging and kissing Nathan.)
Tim: Yeah, we missed you bosy, but God heped us to be patient with the fa-root of the Spirt. (Picks up Aaron and starts hugging and kissing him.)
Mark: Cousin Tim, I’m so glad our boys are home.
Tim: Yeah, me too, Cousin Mark (starting to cry)
[Mark and Tim cry with loud sobs because they’re happy to see their boys]
Mark: This reminds me of a song I learned in Sunday School. Ya want me to sing it?
Tim: Yeah, you lead, and we’ll join right in.
Mark: [sung to the tune of the Hee-Haw classic, "Where, O Where, Are You Tonight?"
To hear the first verse and chorus of this song, click here (VBS Song 2003]
The son said to Dad-dy “I’ll see y’all lat-er,”
Set off with his loot to a far a-way place.
The fa-ther kept wait-in’ like God waits for sin-ners,
The Spir-it gives pa-tience, the fruit of God’s grace.
Jesus Christ, lives within you.
Through his Holy Spirit new life will dawn.
As spiritual fruit grows you’ll be more like Jesus,
Your sinful and selfish ways PFFT will be gone.
Well Je-sus was born ‘cuz God loved all peo-ple,
He healed and for-gave and made ev-’ry-one new.
He lov-ing-ly died on the cross for us sin-ners,
And gave us the Spir-it so we can love too.
The shep-herd re-joiced when his sheep was re-cov-erd.
The wo-man was glad when her lost coin was found.
The great joy of heav-en when we turn to Je-sus
Is ours by the Spir-it with praise all a-round
Oh why do you wor-ry ’bout food, drink, and clo-thing,
When God takes good care of the birds of the air?
If you’ll on-ly seek for the king-dom of hea-ven
The Spir-it will give you God’s peace ev-’ry-where.
Tim: Well, Cousin Mark, Farmer Fran, we’re later than rooster crowin’ when the cows come home. We better get haulin’.
Mark: Hey, you’re right. Thanks, Cousin Fran, for heping us learn about the fa-root of the Spirt and about patience. And thanks for tellin’ us that story ‘bout the daddy and his boy. That sure helped!
Emmett: You’re welcome. My pleasure.
Tim: (to kids) So, see y’all tomorrow! Y’all come back now, y’here?
[Music resumes and characters leave.]
And Now for a Little Fun . . . It’s Tool Time!
Every summer my church sponsors Vacation Bible School for children 4 through 12. But VBS is anything but school. It’s an extravaganza of fun and food, all meant to convey solid biblical themes. This year our overall theme as “Construction, Inc.” We focused on God’s work in the world and in us through Jesus Christ.
For the last several years I’ve been centrally involved in VBS, playing a character in a skit that teaches as it entertains. Along with other leaders from my church, I get to ham it up for the sake of our children.
This year we did a spoof of the television show “Home Improvement,” complete with Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, Al “His Trusty Assistant” Borland, and Wilson, the all-wise neighbor whose face we never quite see. I played the role of Tim, which required, among other things, some startling physical transformation. Oh, the things I do for the work of Christ! (Note: While I lost a beard for the sake of VBS, my associate pastor Tim grew a beard, much to the chagrin of his wife.)
I thought you might enjoy a script from one of our skits. So, here it is.
“Following the Plan”
Characters: Tim Taylor; Al Borland; Heidi; Wilson
[Heidi enters to center stage.]
Heidi: Does everybody know what time it is?
Kids: Tool Time!
Heidi: That’s right. Binford Tools is proud to present Tim “The Toolman” Taylor! Whoo-hoo.
[The audience cheers. The "Tool Time" theme starts. The doors open, while Tim and Al walk out to the set]
Tim: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Heidi. I’m Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. And this, of course, is my trusty assistant, Al “The Bearded One” Borland.
Al: That’s right, Tim. Say, what do you think of this beard?
Tim: I think it looks like you’ve been bobbing for apples in tub of cow manure, Al.
Al: I don’t think so, Tim. [To kids] Say, what do you think of my beard? [They cheer] See, Tim, it looks pretty good.
Tim: Well, maybe I’ll have to grow a beard sometime too. I’ve always thought they were rather crass, though, Al, mainly for lowlifes.
Al: Tim, we’ve got a great show tonight. We’re going to teach people how to follow plans when you build something.
Tim: Ah, Al, I think plans are for wimps, rather like yourself, Al “The Wimpman” Borland.
Al: I don’t think so, Tim. All the great builders use careful plans.
Tim: Not me. I can build using the powers of my creative mind. I don’t need plans. I just go with my male testosterone gut instinct. I bond emotionally with the wood, and great things happen. Look, check out this chair I made yesterday. No plans, no directions. Just me and the wood becoming one together. Woof-woof-woof.
[Shows Al his chair. Al seems impressed.]
Al: Well, Tim, maybe you can build without plans. That looks pretty good.
Tim: Yep, it’s perfect. Solid. Manly. Strong and sturdy. Woof-woof-woof.
Al: Say, do you think I could sit on it?
Tim: Sure, Al. It can even hold you.
[Al climbs onto the chair and sits.]
Al: Hey, this feels pretty good.
Tim: You bet, Al. Lean back and enjoy.
[Al leans back, but the back of the chair falls off. Al begins to fall, but Tim catches him at the last minute. They struggle for a few seconds.]
Tim: Al, I’m so sorry. You almost got really hurt.
Al: Yeah, Tim. I’m okay. But that chair of yours fell apart.
Tim: Yeah. Sigh! I need some help.
[Tim looks dejected, wanders slowly over to tall fence, behind which Wilson is waiting. When Tim gets close, Wilson speaks.]
Wilson: Hidy-ho, good neighbor.
Tim: Hello, Wilson. What are you up to today?
Wilson: Well, Tim, I’m trying to determine the potential salvage power and economic benefit of electromagnetism.
Tim: [confused.] Woof?
Wilson: Well, you see, I found this old plan in an old edition of My Friend the Magnet to build my own electromagnet. But frankly, it seemed a little puny. So I boosted the amperage and quadrupled the power, and it seems to work much better. See, it even pulled all these nails out of that old pile of wood lying over there [Hands over a bunch of nails to Tim]. You know, I could have sworn that was a chair! I just don’t know whether there’s enough economic upside to salvaging nails. But you look sad, good buddy. What’s the problem?
Tim: I made this chair yesterday. Tried to do it without any plans. It looked great. But then on the show today, Al sat on it. He leaned back and the chair broke. Al almost got badly hurt. It was embarrassing, Wilson.
Tim: I made this chair yesterday. Tried to do it without any plans. It looked great. But then on the show today, Al sat on it. He leaned back and the chair broke. Al almost got badly hurt. It was embarrassing, Wilson.
Wilson: Well, Tim. You can’t build something without plans. Nobody can. Not even God. Did you know that God had a plan before he began to create the universe. That’s right. And he also had a plan for how to save the world. He followed this plan carefully, and that’s why Jesus came as our Savior. There’s a big word that theologians use to talk about God’s plan. It’s called providence. God’s providence is his perfect plan.
Wilson: Yep. That’s is. Providence. God’s perfect plan being worked out in all of creation, even in you, Tim.
Tim: Providence. God’s plan. God’s plan for me. Providence.
Wilson: Remember Proverbs 21:5: “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but every one who is hasty comes only to want.”
Tim: Hey, thanks, Wilson. That’s just what I needed.
[Tim hurries back to the set.]
Al: Tim, are you okay? You seemed pretty upset before. Don’t worry, I can feel your pain, my friend? I have deep empathy.
Tim: Don’t fret about it, Al “Who Feels My Pain” Borland. I’m fine now. I’ve learned that you’ve gotta have a plan when you build things. Hey, even God has a plan. It’s something the neo-Trojans call probably dents. I guess it means that even the best plan probably has some dents in it. I don’t know. Probably dents.
Al: I don’t think so, Tim. What you should have said is that theologians – they’re people who write about God – speak about God’s providence. Providence, it’s God’s perfect plan being worked out in the world. Providence.
Tim: Right again, Al “I Know All the Big Words” Borland. Providence. God has a plan for everything, even me, even you. . . . Speaking of a plan, this TV station has a plan to end this show in about one minute. So that’s all for today. On behalf of Al “I Know Big Words” Borland, I’m Tim “The Tool Man Who Uses Plans” Taylor. See you tomorrow.
[Home Improvement theme music begins.]
And Now for a Little Fun . . . Crocs Rule!
Every summer my church sponsors Vacation Bible School for children 4 through 12. But VBS is anything but school. It’s an extravaganza of fun and food, all meant to convey solid biblical themes. This year our overall theme was “Kingdom of the Son: A Prayer Safari.” We focused on God’s nature and on prayer, using The Lord’s Prayer as our basic Bible text.
For the last several years I’ve been centrally involved in VBS, playing a character in a skit that entertains as it teaches. My primary partners in crime are my associate pastor, Tim, and my friend and church elder, Emmett. This year our skit combines a couple of kid’s pop cultural icons: Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, and George of the Jungle. We get help from a fictional character known as Cousin Croc, curmudgeonly Australian version of an American redneck and country sage. [Note: We did this skit while Steve Irwin was still alive.]
Here’s the script from the first skit of five. The basic theme is “God listens.” The theme verse is “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
[Opening jungle sounds and "Crocodile Hunter" theme music.]
Steve: G’day, mates. How are ya? I’ll bet you’re wondering what I’m doin’ here. Well, back where I come from in Australia, they call me the Crocodile Man, ‘cuz I love crocodiles. And do ya know why? ‘Cuz CROCS RULE. Hey, how ’bout you mates helping me with that? I’ll ask ya, “What do you know?” And you’ll answer, CROCS RULE. All right? Here we go. What do you know?
Kids: CROCS RULE!
Steve: Beautiful, mates. But this time ya gotta use your body, like this: CROCS RULE! [with arms making muscles] Okay. So what do you know?
Kids: CROCS RULE!
Steve: Crikey! You blokes and sheilas are just gorgeous! Today, I’m looking for a big croc that’s loose somewhere in this building. I’m gonna capture it and take it someplace safe. But first I gotta find it.
[Steve looks around. Then spots a big crocodile inflatable toy.]
Steve: C’mon. Where are ya, ya big girl? . . . Look at that! I think we’ve got one. [grabs tail] Hey. Hey. Hey. Settle down now, sweetheart. Have a look at this! She’s a beautiful croc. Look at those teeth. Has she got a gorgeous set, or what? Whoa! Settle down, mate. What a beautiful Sheila. Now I’ve just got to . . . .
[He wrestles a bit and then picks up the croc for display]
Steve: She’s a real feisty one. And she has extreme jaw pressure. One bite would mean my life! It’s a very intense moment. Ya know what? I’m a professional. You see a croc like this, don’t muck with it! And one thing’s for sure: Don’t try this at home! Ya gotta know what you’re doing with these beauties.
[The croc wrestles Steve to the ground and pins him. Seems ready to eat him.]
Steve: Hey! Hey! Hey! She’s a grumpy girl, and she’s gonna have me for lunch! Ouch! Hey! Help! Help! Help me, God! Help me, God! Help me, God!
[Tarzan yell and George of the Jungle intro music. George swings in to the rescue (literally, from the sanctuary balcony). Runs confidently over to Steve and croc. Lovingly grabs the croc, picking her off Steve and holding her gently.]
Steve: Hey, thanks, mate! But who are ya?
George: My name George, George of jungle.
Steve: G’day, George. And, say, watch out for that tree, mate!
George: Thanks, Steve.
Steve: How did you know how to get that croc off me?
George: Easy. Me professional jungle man. You shouldn’t muck with crocs until you know what you’re doing.
Steve: Oh! Crikey!
George: Say, who you calling when I save you?
Steve: I was calling out to God! I was praying!
George: Prying? Like prying something open?
Steve: No, praying, like talking to God.
George: Oh, praying. But can you just talk to God like that. Does God really hear you?
Steve: Sure he does, mate.
George: He listens? You positive?
Steve: Yeah. No worries, mate. If you don’t believe me, let’s call for some professional advice, from Cousin Croc.
[Enter Cousin Croc. A curmudgeonly Australian version of an American redneck.]
Cousin Croc: Hey, what’re you blokes doin’? What’s the problem, mates?
Steve: G’day, Cousin Croc. We were just wondering about praying, you know, to God.
Cousin Croc: Praying? Sure, I’m a professional in praying.
George. Oh. That good. Does God really listen when we pray?
Cousin Croc: Sure, God listens. Anyone can talk to God. That’s a great thing about God.
Steve: See. I told ya, mate. Anybody can talk to God, and God hears ya.
Cousin Croc: There was a man named Jesus, a very special man, the Son of God.
Steve: That’s right. He’s my mate.
Cousin Croc: Jesus taught a prayer called “The Lord’s Prayer.” It begins “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
George: Name of God is hollow?
Cousin Croc: No, not hollow, like your head. Hallowed. It means that God’s name is very special and powerful.
George: So we pray to God. He hears us. And he can answer our prayers.
Cousin Croc: That’s right, George, exactly!
Steve: So that’s why I was praying George. Because God listens. Aw, crikey! I gotta go and get this croc into some water. Hey thanks, George, for your help with this beauty. And thanks, Cousin Croc, for teaching us about praying. Maybe we can learn more tomorrow. G’day, mates.
George and Cousin Croc: “G’day.”
A Little More Fun . . . VBS Encore
Yes, yes, I know that I usually post serious material on Monday. But, after doing the VBS skit at church every day last week, and doing an extra-long wrap up in two services on Sunday, I’m all tuckered out. So, I thought I’d share a few more VBS memories: part of today’s script, some fun pictures, and a short movie clip.
Each day of VBS I played Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter from television. I got help from my “mates,” George of the Jungle (my associate pastor Tim) and Cousin Croc (my friend Emmett). On Friday and Sunday Tim and I had our daughters get into the action too.
Our theme was “The Kingdom of the Son: A Prayer Safari.” The point of each skit was to introduce the theme for the day and the Bible verse (part of the Lord’s Prayer). We’d get to the point with Steve looking for some kind of animal, getting some help from George, and then letting Cousin Croc “teach” the lesson.
Here are some excerpts from today’s expanded skit. This is also the script for the movie clip (see below).
Steve: Hi. My name’s Steve Irwin. And where I come from in Australian, they call me the Crocodile Man, ‘cuz I love crocs. You know why I love crocs? Actually, I’ll get some of my little blokes to help. Little blokes, what do you know?
Kids: Crocs rule!
Steve: Remember. I’m a professional. You see one of these, don’t muck with it. One things for sure: don’t try this at home! Crikey. What am thinking? She’s getting a little feisty. Wait. Oh. It’s just like Monday. I need some help. I’m praying. God help me!
[George of the Jungle swings in.]
. . . . .
George: Hey, you in trouble, Steve?
Steve: Yeah, mate. It’s just like Monday. This croc got a little feisty here.
George: Let me help you. . . with the handle right here.
. . . . .
Stevie: [carrying a big spider] Ain’t she a beauty?
Steve: It’s my little sheila, my daughter, Stevie Irwin. Hey, good day, mate, how are you?
Stevie: Good day, mate, how are you?
. . . . .
Stevie: I found one! Ain’t she a beauty?
Steve: Hey! You gotta be careful with that!
Stevie: Don’t worry, Dad. I’m a professional!
Steve: Like father, like daughter. Can I have a look at that little sheila? Whoa! What a beauty! Look at that snake! Look at the fangs on that snake!
. . . . .
Steve: What do you know that really matters?
Kids: God rules!
Stevie: That’s beautiful, mates. Let’s try it again. What do you know that really matters?
Kids: God rules!
Steve: Mates, we gotta be going. We’ve got to take these beautiful animals and give ‘em some water and stuff. So we’re gonna take off now. You have a great time, a great VBS. Good day, mates!
To see a two-minute video clip of VBS highlights, click here (VBS 2005).