Small group, big results
Triad Baptist’s Worship Center is beginning to look more like its old VBS self, with colorful decorations that create an environment of ministry-based fun for children.
Renee Caudle, the set designer for this week’s sports-themed “Game On” VBS, said one group to thank for that is the Connect Group that Mitch and Marsha White lead and that Steve and Dina Coley have hosted at their home since 2016.
Over three days in June, Steve Coley and fellow Connect Group members Mitch White, Scott Williams and Mark Shelton worked at Coley’s shop to cut, drill, sand and assemble 23 age and grade stands for Caudle.
With bottoms that resemble lockers and colorful tops that evoke the country markers from the Olympics, the stands gave Caudle what she needed for VBS plus some for use in the Kids Street Worship Center.
“We had done stands in the old sanctuary that were bolted to the floor and we couldn’t do that in the Worship Center so I reached out to Steve Coley about four months ago,” Caudle said.
“Steve and Kermit Law, another member I turn to for help, are both engineers and can take a sketch and an idea and figure out how to build it and make it happen. They’re amazing,” she said. “I showed Steve an example of one of the stands and he took it from there and built a prototype that we tweaked to what you see now.
“It really adds to the sports stadium atmosphere and it has been great to see the kids looking at them and the smiles each night,” she said. “And they make it very easy for parents to see where to take and drop off their children each evening, so are very practical too. Kermit built the lockers you see onstage.”
Built from wood and PVC pipe, the age and grade stands each have a sliding base panel for adding the weights that keep them firmly and safely positioned to the floor and upright.
Coley said he couldn’t have completed the project without his Connect Group’s help.
“The reason I needed to make this one a Connect Group effort was due to the scope of work and the time constraints to complete it,” he said. “It was more than what one person could do,” he said.
“While I worked on it some myself, we did the majority of it June 22, June 25 and June 27,” he said. “I was really surprised and relieved we were able to get it complete in such a short time. Each of the guys who participated in the VBS project have been members of our group from the start. They did not hesitate to step up and help when requested to do so. I’m very grateful for their friendship.”
Williams, who had previously served for years as a VBS class guide and on the audio/video team said the stands for “Game On” marked his first construction project.
“Steve, being the master wood worker and engineer that he is, came up with the design and asked our Connect Group for volunteers,” Williams said. “It was a great time of fellowship in the shop with the guys and rewarding to participate in the VBS setup.”
Added White, “This project not only gave us a wonderful time of fellowship with members of our Connect Group, but more importantly a rewarding opportunity to serve God through the VBS ministry.
“While serving in the past as class guide and on the food/snacks team, this is the first time I’ve assisted with construction of any kind for VBS, and must say it was very fulfilling being able to create something from scratch.”
In addition to the sense of accomplishment, Shelton said the project also underscores how the Connect Groups ministry fosters relationship building.
“This was something we could work on periodically,” Shelton said. “It was great to spend time together and accomplish something beneficial for VBS. Connect Groups are a small-group ministry that creates closer relationships among the group members then you’re able to have with the church at large.
“You’re able to get to know each other better, share things on a personal level and have close friends and support each other — including helping Steve out with this project.”
The “Game On” VBS marks the second time that Triad Baptist has used the church’s main Worship Center to begin and end the program.
Still not that far removed from the COVID pandemic and its disruptions, Executive Pastor for Children and Ministries Tim Gerber said the church decided to take a slow-and-steady approach to this July’s edition of its longtime VBS — offering space first to children of those serving in VBS, then to other church members and regular visitors and finally to the community at large in the last week of registration.
Gerber said class sizes were also capped at a maximum of 20 to 35 (depending on age) to ensure a safe and effective VBS experience.
This year, he said the church is holding an evening session instead of morning and evening programs and using the “Game On” theme, music and materials it had planned to use before the pandemic cancelled the in-person VBS in 2020.
“Overall, we’re ministering to more than 300 children, and we couldn’t do this without our volunteers,” he said. “All together, I know that the creation of these age and grade stands, and the other vital roles others play each year, are used by God to make a huge impact in the lives of children.
“Through ‘Game On,’ they are learning how Jesus Christ helps help them gear up for life’s big game and gives them everything they need to live a Godly life and follow Him.”