Go VBS with GOLA

GOLA Vacation Bible School Teams is a ministry to help zero-baptism and low-baptism Louisiana Baptist churches have a successful VBS this summer.

The teams of six college students each are chosen from Louisiana Baptist churches and Baptist Collegiate Ministries from across the state and are assigned to churches for a one-week VBS.

There is no cost to the church for a team as their expenses are handled through the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering and Cooperative Program. A GOLA hosting church is responsible for their own VBS expenses, such as literature for expected number of children, craft items, decorations, refreshments, and so forth.

How to Apply

Churches interested in participating in this ministry need to complete the GOLA 2016 VBS Application below.

Download application

Return the completed application to Jeff Ingram, adult ministry strategist, at the address given below or Jeff.Ingram@LouisianaBaptists.org.

Louisiana Baptists
Attn: Jeff Ingram
P.O. Box 311
Alexandria, LA 71309

Please note that priority will be given to first-time requests from churches, as well as in the order of receiving the completed applications. Completing an application does not necessarily guarantee a team will be available. There are usually more requests than the teams can schedule in the summer. However, every effort will be made to help churches with their VBS.

For questions, contact Jeff Ingram at 318.448.3402 or email Jeff.Ingram@LouisianaBaptists.org.

What the GOLA VBS Team needs from your church:

  • Pray and prayer walk your community.
  • Publicize your VBS to your community (door-to-door flyers, telephone, signs in community and yards, inviting neighbors, etc).
  • Provide workers from your church to help the team and to build relationships with the children and parents.
  • Provide VBS curriculum for anticipated number of children and/or youth (LifeWay’s Submerged: Finding Truth Below the Surface).
  • Provide a meal – lunch or supper – for the team.
  • Follow-up with all children and families after VBS – THIS IS CRITICAL!
  • Help make it a great week for the team through cooperation and patience.

We (the Louisiana Baptist Convention) will provide the following:

  • GOLA VBS Team of 6 college students to help  lead your church’s VBS.
  • Train the team prior to their first week. (The students will be prepared to lead worship rally, recreation, crafts, Bible studies, missions; however you need them to help your church have a successful VBS.)
  • Provide for their transportation, hotel, and meals, except for the one meal at your church.
  • Provide honorariums for students.
  • Background checks for the team.
  • In most cases the team will be at your church from Sunday morning through Friday. (Saturday will be a travel day to their next location.)
  • The team leader will contact you at least two weeks out for final details.

6 Ways You Can Choose Wonder in 2016

2015 turned out to be a different world than 2014 and this year promises more change. That’s guaranteed!

• The state of our world is as uncertain as it’s ever been and all bets are off when it comes to what it will look like five years from now.
• Will we face an even deeper economic collapse?
• Will we face more threats from well-funded lunatics and military mercenaries?
• Is this the kind of world that you’d want to bring a kid into in five years?
• Should we be investing in the market or stockpiling spam and green beans in our closets?

Uncertainty is certain but one thing remains: our desire for wonder. Wonder is imbedded in the core of our soul. Very few seek a boring life, with so-so relationships, a mediocre romance and a take-it-or-leave-it career. We yearn for wonder. But how do we get wonder? Is wonder something we can capture like a trout at the end of a fly reel? Is wonder a formula? Is it a myth like the legends of Middle Earth, Sasquatch, or honest politics?

Time and time again in the Bible we get a view of wonder – how to lose it and how to seize it today. We see heroes who struggle – just like us. We see ordinary people who doubt – just like we do. And we see God compelling them to be all they never thought they could be. It all begins with preparation.

Chances are, this season of your life is all about preparing you for the next season of life. If you are anything like me and my church, you have big dreams and little budgets. Like a slingshot, you are being stretched to the limit in order to propel you into all the other phases of your life. This stretching time can determine your career, your lifelong friends, your financial future and ultimately, your spiritual direction. (No pressure.) While so many celebrate with a series of mind-numbing parties and shallow, surface-thin relationships based on all the wrong things, God wants to lead you through the threshold of wonder, bliss and amazement that will last for eternity.

In order to experience the wonder of this amazing walk with Jesus, make a few commitments:

• to not take yourself so seriously
• to not win arguments
• to love the people nobody seems to be loving
• to connect on a deeper level with your friends
• to be honest in your conversations
• to treat yourself like Jesus treats you
• to leave people alone when they want to be left alone
• to not “fix” your family
• to laugh more
• to dream more
• to give more
• to treasure sleep
• to weep without shame
• to rest when you’re tired
• to celebrate the accomplishments of others
• to live wholeheartedly
• to never judge
• to always love
• to be present
• to be available
• to put people above agendas
• to live in a perpetual state of gratitude

Jesus tells a story about a guy who finds an amazing buried treasure and then sells everything he has so that he can have the legal rights to this secret trove. Can’t you just hear his friends, family and neighbors? They didn’t know about the treasure. Can you hear them gossiping about his foolishness in selling his home, boat, donkey, family heirlooms, his shoes, pottery collection, tickets to the games in Rome … everything! I can just see him with a mischievous grin as he hears them mock and sees the smirks. He takes all this abuse because he knows something they don’t. He prepares to sell it all and get so much more in return. This is a metaphor about consecration. He goes on a huge sell-off in order to get that pearl – the prize of his life.

What will you choose?

Here are Six Ways to Choose Wonder

1. Seek out private worship. Having a daily time of worship and Bible reading places you in the zone of the supernatural. Shoot for seven days a week but hit at least five. See what God begins to show you.

2. Connect with one other person who is in agreement with you to follow God and seek Him daily. Meet once a week with that friend.

3. Make a difference in one person’s life. Pastor Andy Stanley says it like this: Do for one person what you wish you could do for everybody.

4. Set boundaries on frivolous spending and activities that disrupt your spiritual journey.

5. Give up trying to control people. Simply love them and work on yourself. It’s amazing what happens when we allow people to experience the consequences of their actions. Instead of trying to fix people, just love them and let them see you live with integrity.

6. Look for God’s hand and you’ll be amazed! There are miracles and unexplained mysteries all around us. Once you find them, you’ll bolster your faith to ask God for big things.

DIY Announcement Screens for the Budget Conscious Church

An announcement loop seems to be a mainstay in the 21st century church. Being able to give people a glimpse of the opportunities to grow and serve in their church should never be taken for granted and should be done with excellence.

Just because it needs to be done well doesn’t always mean you need to spend a lot of money. Here are the materials you will need to acquire in order to begin.

Project List

  • LED/LCD TV (preferable 42” or greater)
  • Flat screen TV mount
  • WD TV Live Media Player Wi-fi 1080p
  • Small flash drive (4gb or more)
  • Industrial Velcro
  • 1.5ft. HDMI cable
An excellent announcement screen doesn't need to be expensive

An excellent announcement screen doesn’t need to be expensive


  1. Hire an electrician to provide a power outlet in the area of the wall where theTV will be mounted
  2. Mount the TV following the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the mount. (Monoprice.com has great prices on mounts and HDMI cables)
  3. Take your industrial strength Velcro and adhere the WD TV Live to a flat surface on the wall or back of the TV.
  4. Connect the HDMI cable to both the TV and the WD TV Live box
  5. Use Microsoft Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Illustrator to create slides that are sized at 1920px x 1080px. You can do smaller slide dimensions but the suggested dimensions will give your images the maximum clarity.
  6. Take your thumb drive and load these images you made as well as a few songs to loop while the slides are going.
  7. Plug your flash drive into the WD Live and power it up. You will be able to access your slides and songs from the flash drive using the WD Live and begin your loop. Please consult the owner’s manual if you need assistance.
Behind the TV view of the WD Live TV box with USB drive

Rear TV view of the WD Live TV box with USB drive

Extra idea for the more advanced

You could easily repeat these steps for a two TV setup inside a lobby or corridor by adding a few additional items. A Kramer 1:2 HDMI distribution amplifier and two 50ft. HDMI cables would give you the ability to have the same exact image on two different TV’s at the same time. Sometimes this is desirable just so the ads are looping in unison. This gives a very polished look but is not absolutely necessary.

4 Ways to Avoid a Blue Christmas

In 1957, Elvis Presley released the song “Blue Christmas” in which he crooned “You’ll be doin’ alright with your Christmas of white but I’ll have a blue, blue Christmas.” Elvis is not the only one who has experienced a blue Christmas. Counselors and researchers have long noted that the Christmas season is associated with sadness, depression, even to the point of suicide, for many, many people. Perhaps you don’t need Elvis or psychiatrists to tell you that the yuletide season can be an occasion for sadness rather than joy. You have your own tale of heartache amidst the mistletoe and madness of our most popular holiday. There is an odd conflict of axioms at Christmas. Is it the “hap, hap, happiest season of all” or a blue Christmas for you?

The Apostle Paul writes some words of encouragement out of his own life experience (Philippians 3:12-14) that can provide an antidote for a blue Christmas, or, for that matter, a blue life. Follow these steps.

1. Formulate a healthy perspective

Paul says, “Not that I have attained … or am already perfect.” That’s quite an admission for one who saw the risen Christ personally and specially, who had a supernatural trip to the highest heaven, who performed miracles, and who penned the inerrant word of God. Yet, he understood that his life on earth was not going to be perfect.
We can take a cue. Formulate a healthy, realistic expectation of what life, including Christmas, can and cannot provide. The truth about your life is that you are not going to get all the toys you want and the ones you do get are likely to break. You will not achieve all the goals you have dreamed of. You will be disappointed. Everyone will not like you. People will be critical, mean, and cruel. Your friends will betray you. Someone you love will suffer injury or illness, perhaps even leading to their premature death. You will experience setbacks financially, professionally, and relationally. You will face illness-sometimes serious illness. And all of us are marching toward our oh-so-certain death. You may respond, “Sheesh! No wonder I’m depressed!”
But recognizing the truth about our less-than-perfect existence can keep us from unrealistic expectations. Psychotherapist and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl wrote, “As long as you believe life is something to be enjoyed rather than a task you’ve been assigned, you will never be happy.”

“This Christmas, remember: the Christmas story can bring eternal joy; the Christmas season can’t.”

2. Forget a hurtful past

“Forgetting those things which are behind…” Paul had some hurtful things to forget- cruelty from enemies, betrayal by friends, and his own awful sins against God and the embryonic church. The Woman Who Can’t Forget is a book about Jill Price’s experience with her rare condition called hyperthymestic syndrome. She can remember with comprehensive and exacting detail every minute of her life. Is this a gift or an affliction? After all, there are some things we need to forget.
Many of you have memories of horrible events. Parents who should have taken care of you, abused you. Spouses who pledged fidelity have abandoned you. And, then, there are all of our self-inflicted regrets. I do not mean to minimize your pain or suggest overly simple solutions to complex problems. But a positive step in defeating the blues could be to forget a hurtful past.

3. Focus on hearty performance

Twice in these three verses, Paul says I press on. He doesn’t say I mosey on or I meander on. He meets the negatives of life with intentional, purposeful, forceful action. Someone has identified the hallmarks of depression as sitting, silence, and self. These are the sibilants of the Serpent. They aggravate your sadness and send you into a death spiral. So, the antidote? Action, talking, and others. Are you worried about a blue, blue Christmas? Get dressed. Get out of the house. Find someone else to encourage and to help. It just may be that you are the one that is helped the most.

4. Find a heavenly purpose

“I press on toward…the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This is Paul’s most far reaching step. All of life’s troubles are subsumed when we are consumed with knowing Christ and serving him. There are many reasons why Christians might become blue this Christmas. Added to all the exigencies of life mentioned above is the profound rebellion we see in our world (think terror, the collapse of sexual ethics, the carnage of abortion, to name a few). Therefore, we must remember heaven’s purpose. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

One of the most urbane and articulate professors that taught me theology had this rather colloquial assertion about the Advent: “Christmas is big stuff!” It is indeed. God’s unspeakable gift of Christ at Christmas has chased all the blues away.

Thanksgiving to God- A Responsive Reading

Here’s an easy, creative responsive reading/prayer you can use this Sunday to thank God together!

Leader: In times of trial and grief,

Congregation: You remained faithful to us.

Leader: In times of heartbreak and uncertainty,

Congregation: You were the fortress we ran to.

Leader: Some of us have fought cancer and illness.

Congregation: Your hands guided us. You are the Good Shepherd.

Leader: When our children were born,

Congregation: You rejoiced with us.

Leader: In those times we needed wisdom,

Congregation: Your Holy Spirit renewed our mind.

Leader: When discouragement and responsibilities weighed heavy on our hearts and weary bodies,

Congregation: You lifted the burdens and placed them upon Your strong shoulders.

Leader: Our gifts seem so insignificant, our words so frail, when we seek to bring Thanksgiving.

Congregation: But hear our hearts, O Lord. We thank You. We love You. We praise Your Holy Name.