100 Years of VBS

100 Years of VBS

LEADERSHIP MATTERS by Roger Yancey, D.Min.

All through the TEBA churches have been hosting Vacation Bible Schools.  VBS is one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities a church can provide reaching countless children and their families.  At the last meeting of the SBC in Indianapolis, I was intrigued by the report of Ben Mandrell, President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources.  As part of his report to the convention, he addressed the origin and impact of VBS in the life of local churches.  What follows is an excerpt from his report he gave me permission to share with you.


VBS first began in New York City in 1898 when a lady named Virginia Hawes noticed that children had nowhere safe to go in the summertime. She became increasingly concerned that schools “no longer taught the Bible and parents were not discipling their children in the home” and so she launched the first “Everyday Bible School” in a rented beer parlor in New York’s Upper East Side as a compassionate solution to both a practical and a spiritual need. It became a huge success, growing year after year. In 1901 the New York City Baptist Mission Society picked up the banner of Vacation Bible School and established schools throughout the East Side. By 1921, Vacation Bible School had spread well into the south and was a strong program across many denominations.

In 1924, the Sunday School Board created the Vacation Bible School department led by Homer Grice and published the first manuals for Vacation Bible School for Southern Baptist churches. He blazed a trail working with the state conventions to equip and train churches. VBS exploded in the Southern Baptist Convention under his leadership.  

Today, a hundred years later, there are over 25,000 churches reaching 2.5 million kids each summer through Lifeway’s VBS resources.

VBS continues to be the largest evangelistic tool of the SBC, accounting for 25% of SBC baptisms every year. Last year, there were 60,000 professions of faith at VBS. It’s a time-tested, proven successful strategy that is still engaging, appealing, strategic, and effective today.

Since we began tracking giving to the VBS missions offering in 1999, churches have given $105 million to missions through VBS. 

 Look back at what God has done over 100 years of VBS. Look back on your own life and the impact VBS has had on your life. Raise your hand if you made some kind of spiritual decision at VBS, whether you made a decision to follow Christ, or a decision to go into full-time ministry or missions. Many of you can say that VBS was a significant part of your spiritual journey.”


I am grateful for every church that have made VBS a key part of their ministry and would encourage a church who is considering VBS being added to their ministry to children to do so.  If you need help in the development of a VBS in your own church, we have partner churches ready to give assistance.  VBS continues to prove it makes an eternal difference!

In Kingdom service,

 Executive Director, AMS

Summer Reading

Summer Reading

LEADERSHIP MATTERS by Roger Yancey, D.Min.

One of the best parts of the summer months is the books I can look forward to reading.  Allow me to share a portion of the books that I think you might find of interest as well.  Full confession, the book descriptions are taken from the descriptions you can find on Amazon as are the links to purchase the books if you are interested in doing so.  Whether you read one of these books or others on your own list, allow your summer to be one for personal growth.

Privilege the Text! spans the conceptual gap between biblical text and life application by providing a rigorous theological hermeneutic for preaching.

Kuruvilla describes the theological entity that is the intermediary between ancient text and modern audience, and defines its crucial function in determining valid application. Based on this hermeneutic, he submits a new mode of reading Scripture for preaching: a Christiconic interpretation of the biblical text, a hermeneutically robust way to understand the depiction of the Second Person of the Trinity in Scripture.  https://a.co/d/hOaxNOO


A multidisciplinary appraisal of the Pharisees: who they were, what they taught, and how they’ve been understood and depicted throughout history.  For centuries, Pharisees have been well known but little understood—due at least in part to their outsized role in the Christian imagination arising from select negative stereotypes based in part on the Gospels. Yet historians see Pharisees as respected teachers and forward-thinking innovators who helped make the Jewish tradition more adaptable to changing circumstances and more egalitarian in practice. Seeking to bridge this gap, the contributors to this volume provide a multidisciplinary appraisal of who the Pharisees actually were, what they believed and taught, and how they have been depicted throughout history.   https://a.co/d/23oTsLc

Controversy rages on about God’s choosing people for salvation. Are only the few elect? Rather than typically beginning with the preconceptions of systematic theologies, Dr. William Klein takes up this question by searching for a biblical theology of election. He surveys the OT contexts of God’s choosing individuals–prophets, priests, kings–to serve divine purposes, and considers God’s election of the nation of Israel as his special people. The bulk of the study, and the heart of the argument, focus on the New Testament. Klein identifies concepts of election, and relationships between writers in the gospels, the Lucan material, Paul’s writings, and the rest.  https://a.co/d/3fO5RGw

Truly Divine and Truly Human traces the fascinating story of how Christians came to proclaim Jesus of Nazareth as both ‘truly divine’ and ‘truly human.’ It follows the centuries of debate and the Church councils that led up to this proclamation and the years of argument and schism that followed. This declaration has remained central to Christianity down the centuries and an appreciation of how it was made is crucial not only for an understanding of Christian history but also for an understanding of Christian identity today. Between 325 and 787 A.D. seven ecumenical councils took place in the early church. This book discusses what they had to say about Jesus Christ in the context of the developing Trinitarian theology of the time.  https://a.co/d/6ZTmWg5

What to do when they say they’re Christian but don’t know Jesus? Whether it’s the Christmas and Easter Christians or the faithful church attenders whose hearts are cold toward the Lord, we’ve all encountered cultural Christians. They’d check the Christian box on a survey, they’re fine with church, but the truth is, they’re far from God. So how do we bring Jesus to this overlooked mission field? The Unsaved Christian equips you to confront cultural Christianity with honesty, compassion, and grace, whether you’re doing it from the pulpit or the pews. If you’ve ever felt stuck or unsure how to minister to someone who identifies as Christian but still needs Jesus, this book is for you.  https://a.co/d/gaBgziz

A revelatory account of how Christian monks identified distraction as a fundamental challenge―and how their efforts to defeat it can inform ours, more than a millennium later.  The digital era is beset by distraction, and it feels like things are only getting worse. At times like these, the distant past beckons as a golden age of attention. We fantasize about escaping our screens. We dream of recapturing the quiet of a world with less noise. We imagine retreating into solitude and singlemindedness, almost like latter-day monks. But although we think of early monks as master concentrators, a life of mindfulness did not, in fact, come to them easily.  https://a.co/d/6vj6dvC

Enjoy your summer reading!


In Kingdom service,

Executive Director, AMS

Learning the Basics of Ministry

Learning the Basics of Ministry

LEADERSHIP MATTERS by Roger Yancey, D.Min.

Where do you go if you are wrestling through a call to ministry?  What if you are unsure but want to take concrete steps toward discovering if God may be calling you to serve in either Co-Vocational or Full-time Ministry?  What if you want to be a lay minister but are unsure about how to develop your skill sets?

The ministry leadership within the churches of the TEBA have joined together to provide a training opportunity beginning in the fall of 2024.  This fall you can join with others around the Association to be part of Ministry 101 which is a 12-week session covering ministry basics.  There will be an additional offering in the spring of 2025 called Ministry 201 which will address additional areas of ministry focus.  A participant can become part of the process either at the beginning of Ministry 101 or 201.  The sessions will be held from 6:30 to 9:00 pm on Monday evenings at the TEBA with participants encouraged to come as early as 6:00 pm with their meal to gather and fellowship with others.

The sessions will be led by ministry leaders throughout the TEBA, and participants will be exposed to a host of leaders. To join the cohort, a participant will need to be recommended by their pastor or church leadership, submit their registration form, and pay $69 for the 12-week session.  In return, the participant will receive materials and books worth far more than the registration fee.  This low cost is made possible by the underwriting from the TEBA family of churches.  Also, many churches are willing to sponsor a participant’s cost as a way of helping them develop in ministry.  Those who complete the 12-week sessions will be awarded a certificate of completion.


Character & Calling – Developing an undivided heart to love God fully and discover His calling on your life.

Spiritual Disciplines – How to develop the disciplines that will build the depth of your walk with Jesus.

Basic Doctrine – Understanding the core Doctrines that shape the church and the people within.

Discipleship – What is Discipleship and how to build, implement, and multiply a Discipleship model in the church.

Bible Study – Basics of Hermeneutics and the Application of Biblical principles to daily living and church life.

Working with People – How to discover, grow, build, and release a team for healthy ministry growth.

Conflict Management – How to deal with differences and understanding Biblical principles for dealing with conflict.

Ministry Pathways – Understanding the various ministry pathways in a church such as Children’s, Students, and others.

Pipeline / Leadership Development – How to build a robust process of identifying and training leaders in a church.

Visional and Strategy Planning – How to move together as a people of God to the Vision of God for a church.

Missional Engagement – Understanding a church’s missional engagement and moving it forward to its next step.

Emotional Healthy Person – How to develop a healthy work-life balance in the whirlwind of ministry.


Message / Bible Study Planning – How to develop a healthy balance of teaching God’s Word.

Who’s on First? – Understanding and operating within Church Governance: Business Meetings and Operations

Basic Administration – Staying inside the lines / Policies & Procedures / Church Security & other concerns.

Stewardship – Understanding how to build a budget and lead people to mature in their stewardship.

Need to Know – Ordinances / Hospital Visits / Pastoral Care / Deacon Ministry.

Worship Planning & Process / Working with Paid and Volunteer Worship Teams.

Understanding Your Community and Church’s Culture – Community demographics and exegeting your church.

Developing Vision, Mission, & Values for Church – Understanding God’s Unique Calling for a Church.

Developing Priorities for Your Church Body – How to build a Holy Spirit-led model of ministry.

Leadership Styles – How you can understand and grow in your leadership style and staff development.

Building, Developing, & Shepherding Your Staff – How to care for those who are paid or lay leaders within the church.

Hot Button Issues / SBC Partnership – Two Baptists, three opinions, what now?

Begin to pray now if you or someone you know would benefit from this training.  Registration information will be found in upcoming Newsletters. 

In Kingdom service,

Executive Director ~ AMS

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 NLT

*Topics for Ministry 101 and 201 are subject to finalization upon the beginning of each 12-week session.

Why Plant Churches?

Why Plant Churches?

LEADERSHIP MATTERS by Roger Yancey, D.Min.

The 19th Annual TEBA Golf Tournament benefiting Church Planting will be held on April 29th at the River Plantation Golf Course.   This is always a great time of fellowship and is open to golfers of every capability because after all, not all tournaments are created equal.  You will be glad you’re not going to play in the Elfego Baca Shootout.  I read about this tournament in an article by Jay Busbee entitled, “The World’s Toughest Golf Tournament: One Hole, Three Miles Long” which was published on June 3, 2009. 

Busbee said in his article, “Held in Socorro, New Mexico, the tournament consists of exactly one hole, and the target is a 50-foot circle. Easy, right? Not so fast. The tee to that hole is 2,550 feet up the side of a mountain, and nearly three miles from the green…The rules alone should give you an idea of how hard the course is. You’re allowed ten balls and must finish with at least one of those. If you can’t find one of your balls in 20 minutes, it’s a stroke. You can tee up every single shot because the terrain is so rugged. You’re even allowed three spotters to watch where the heck your ball goes.

And they’ll have plenty to see. Hazards include abandoned mine shafts, remote canyons, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and much more. No need to take a full bag; many golfers get by with only a driver and a five-iron.

 Named for Elfego Baga, a local peacekeeper during the Old West, the one-hole shootout is part of the larger Socorro Open and was first played in 1960. Since then, about the only difference is that the players have begun using laser rangefinders. The hazards haven’t changed one bit. Oh, and the course record? Nine strokes to cover three miles.”

 You can read more about it at https://newmexicogolfnews.com/toughest-golf-hole-in-nm-the-elfego-baca-golf-shoot/

 The good news is you won’t have to face rattlesnakes to be part of the church planting challenge, but for those who answer the call to the needs of planting churches, it is just as daunting.  Some have asked why we need to continue planting churches – aren’t there enough churches already?  Let me share with you some basic information to consider:

 FIRST:  The Population Needs within the TEBA are immense.  Each month more than 2500 people are moving into the geographic area of the Association.  We live in one of the 50 fastest growing areas in the nation and the nations of the world are coming to our area.  Houston is the most diverse city in the USA and the TEBA has more than 75 languages present– we need more churches.

SECOND: New churches are one of the best strategies we have to Recover the Formerly Churched or the Completely Unchurched.  New churches tend to reach people faster and have higher baptism and salvation rates than almost 90% of existing churches.

THIRD: Churches Plateauing, Declining, or Dying.  One-quarter of SBC churches reported “0” Baptisms, 60% said they had baptized no youth (ages 12-17), and 80% reported one or fewer young adult baptisms (ages 18-29).  We need to help churches recover life, but we can’t reach all the lost without planting churches too.

 We need new churches, we need healthy churches, and we need to do whatever it takes till everyone can be part of God’s family.  Join us for a day of golf – it may change your neighbor’s eternity.

In Kingdom service,

Executive Director, AMS

Learn more about and

Register for the TEBA Golf Tournament at


Revitalize Now

Revitalize Now

LEADERSHIP MATTERS by Roger Yancey, D.Min.

No one comes to serve in a church with the hope and dream of seeing it plateau, decline, or die.

 The hope of every minister is to see the works of God occur in the life of a congregation.  Prayers are voiced and ministry invested into the lives of a congregation so a community can be reached, and lives transformed.  The desire to be part of a healthy congregation is real but there is another reality more than 80% of churches must face – they are plateaued, declining, or dying.  Across the SBC this is a growing reality according to Lifeway statistics.

This means the majority of those attending one of our SBC churches each Sunday are sitting down to worship in a church where they have not seen the church grow in a healthy way as disciples of Christ which resulted in reaching the 

people of their community.  While the population of the TEBA is growing exponentially, many of our churches are stymied in their efforts to grow and be healthy congregations. 

So, what can a church who wants to get healthy do? 

You can choose to get help. On March 22 & 23 you can be part of the Revitalize, Replant, Recover Church Summit hosted at FBC Willis.  This Summit will be led by Mark Clifton and Kyle Bueermann of the North American Mission Board.  You will learn how to be a healthier church by understanding and implementing revitalization principles based upon God’s Word and proven practices.

 Why not take the step?  Be part of this Summit with a group of your church leadership.  It’s a choice that can lead to breaking out of the 80% and moving your church to a healthier future.  https://teba.org/church-summit-2024/ 

In Kingdom service,

Executive Director, AMS