I was at this amazing thing called Skill School at our church all week last week, and I haven't written about it yet. Mainly because I can't decide how to go about writing about it. I can't find a central point or theme or something . . . I don't know. I can't make it flow. But I feel like you need to hear this story. So, I'll just plunge in and center my reflections around my main reaction to the whole event: Wow.
There were 716 kids, grades K-5, in attendance -- plus about 350 volunteers. So, well over a thousand people on site every day. Wow.
We started each day with an opening session in the auditorium -- loud music, seven hundred kids singing/screaming and doing hand motions. Parents dropped kids off at the assigned pew for their first clinic . . we (clinic leaders) signed in our kids and gave them their nametags . . volunteers came by and picked up extra tags . . we got slips in our 2nd clinic telling us who should be absent . . all the kids and clinic leaders returned to the auditorium at the end of the morning to the same pews and we collected nametags again . . parents picked up the kids at their pew . . a monumental administrative effort to keep 700+ kids safe and accounted for. Wow.
Many clinics were outside on the church grounds or off-site at nearby schools, pools, bowling alleys and such. A nurse was on duty the whole time. Several volunteers shuttled kids back and forth in vans for these clinics. They also shuttled all the volunteers back and forth from the church to the East High School parking lot where we all parked so that there would be room in the church parking lot for all the parents. Wow.
Over a hundred different clinics were offered during two different sessions -- including various kinds of arts and crafts, cooking, creative writing, commercial making, several types of dancing, and almost every sport you can imagine. I taught two drama clinics -- one for 2nd and 3rd graders and one for 4th and 5th graders. Between clinics was snack time and "small group". Yes, they fed all 700 kids at the same time in fifty-some different locations all across the area. Wow.
The church staff (pastor and 4-5 others) dressed up as several Toy Story-type characters for a drama series in the opening session. The dramas presented the gospel message in a very straight-forward and entertaining way. 130 kids indicated at the end of the 4th and final day that they had prayed to accept Christ as their savior that morning. Wow.
The week ended with a Skill School Program and outdoor Family Fun Night on Thursday night. I didn't know until Wednesday which of my kids would be there for the program. So, we put a skit together from each class on our last day and performed them Thursday night. The older kids did a version of The Good Samaritan based on one in a kids choir show at Hope. The younger kids did The Prodigal Son, Godspell style. They did a great job. They were great kids. I couldn't believe we pulled it off . . . wow.
Family Fun Night was promoted to the whole community -- an entirely free event. The church gave away over 2000 hot dogs, not to mention all the chips, drinks, ice cream bars and cotton candy. A live band played, big blow-up bouncy things were available to play in . . but the highlight of the evening was the HUGE waterslide they set up on the hill by the church building (take note, Hope folks -- you have a hill beside the church, too!). They estimated that 2500-3000 people from the church and community were there. Wow.
It was an amazing week. It's a huge event, one that makes the reputation for this church in the community. That's one big similarity I've found between Sunnybrook here and Hope Church back in Jersey: most everyone in the community -- even those who don't attend any church at all -- knows about and respects this place. They have the reputation of being a place where God is at work.
And that's why we're going there.