The Western ideal of the American cowboy shows men who stand tall, do what is right regardless of the danger or personal sacrifice and who help the helpless. Christians, like cowboys, are taught to do the same. Using a cowboy theme helps children learn basic Christian values as they "saddle up" for Vacation Bible School.
While cowboys may be the theme of the VBS, you also need to encapsulate this theme with a description or fun logo such as "Salvation Ranch" or "Riding the Range for Jesus." When choosing a logo, consider the focus you plan to use for the VBS program. If the focus is about Jesus watching over us as a shepherd watches over the sheep, think in terms of how cowboys watch over the cattle. Then "Riding the Range for Jesus" works. If the focus is on sharing God's message of salvation and hope with others, use "Salvation Ranch." For those who attend, print T-shirts with this logo as well as the key Bible verse chosen for the week. A "Wanted" list sent home before the start of VBS explains the theme and encourages children to dress up, if they like, as cowboys and cowgirls. This list also tells parents, what, if anything, children are to bring when they attend VBS.
Over the doorways, hang a lariat---the cowboy's coiled rope. Toward the upper part of the coiled rope, hang a cowboy hat. You can add to these arrangements the key verse for the week. In each classroom, create a chart on a notice board or on poster board for learning the daily memory verse. Use cowboy symbols, such as a pair of cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, a lariat, a saddle or even a horse as a marker. Make these different for each class. Decorate the board corners with cut-outs of the markers being used for that class. For example, if your class will be using horses as individual markers, add wild horses or cowboys and cowgirls on horses to the corners of the board. Add fencepost cut-outs around the frame. Add the memory verses to be learnt for the week with the first day's verse toward the bottom and the last verse toward the top. Each day, those who learn the verse can move their marker to that verse. Give prizes for learning each verse, with a special prize for those who learn all the verses.
Ephesians 6:10-18 talks about putting on the whole armour of God. Translate this to the gear worn by the cowboy. As an object lesson for one or more nights, show that what a cowboy wears has an important function, and relate the armour of Ephesians to these purposes. The cowboy belt becomes the belt of truth; the vest becomes God's righteousness. Put on cowboy boots as the symbol of a readiness to spread God's good news of peace, while chaps become the shield of faith because of their protective purpose. The cowboy hat serves as the helmet of salvation and the Bible serves as all the protection needed. Tell the children they need all parts of the gear to be the people God wants them to be.
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