Hero Hospital VBS

 “Home to God's Outrageous Love”
From Matthew 21:14-16

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Big Church Projects

Let's make a real impact in our community using everything we've been learning.

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These Big Church Projects are real-life worship plans, workshops, fundraisers, collections, and service learning opportunities that will make a discernible difference in your community as you work together to be builders of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom.

The Big Church Projects are meant to be the culmination of everything else the participants have been working on.  In other words, these projects are meant to be led by the kids!!!  They are the motivation and the reason for these projects.

That being said, the kids will need help and support from leaders at your church.  For each project, we've provided some recommendations on which leaders will likely need to get involved.

We've also given you some recommendations on how to include the kids as leaders of these projects.  To help you do that, we've even provided some scripting on how to respond to kids with "Yes!" when they ask you about whether they can take on real-world challenges with a Big Church Project.

Building A Place for All

Develop Person-first Language for your church’s prayers and other communications.

Person-first Language strives to make clear that a person is not defined by their diagnosis or disability and not identified by a diagnosis or disability in a negative way.  The ELCA Disability Ministries advisory team (The Rev. Brian Krause, The
Rev. Lisa Heffernan, The Rev. Peter Heide, Anita Smallin, and Chris Ludwig) and
Coordinator for Disability Ministries, Carol A. Johnson of Domestic Mission unit of the
ELCA churchwide office prepared an excellent introduction to Person-first Language and its use in the church.  There is also a nice blog post to help get you started.

Here are some potential goals for this project:

  • Assemble a taskforce to review church language that should be Person-first Language

  • Dedicate time to reading about and learning about Person-first Language.

  • Review church language:

    • Consider all the prayers used at worship services.​

    • Consider language used for a "Prayer Chain."

    • Consider language used for newsletters.

    • Consider language used in emails.

  • Craft new Person-first language wherever needed.

  • Share the new language with your worship planners, staff members, or anyone else who needs to be kept up-to-date.

Who should be helping to lead this project?

We highly recommend that you include kids as much as possible.  There are even some recommendations below on how to do that.  For this project you may also want to include a pastor, your worship planning committee chair, your office administrator, and someone at your who is representative of people who live with a disability or illness.

The participants have been tracking how awesome they are and how much they're learning about the guides' stories, Jesus' stories, and their own story.  They're becoming excellent builders of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom, so give them a Big Church Project to work on!!!

How can you make sure kids are involved?

Kids are the key to the kingdom so you can't build Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom without them.  Here are some ways to follow the lead of the kids on this project:

  • Consider inviting a kid and a youth to join your Person-first Language Taskforce.

  • When you are researching Person-first Language, invite the kids to talk with your taskforce about what they have learned.  All of the kids who have taken part in Hero Hospital have already done some deep thinking on the question, "Does experiencing an illness or disability define all of who you are?"

  • Allow the kids to review the Person-first Language you come up with before using it.

  • In your communication to the whole congregation about your switch to Person-first Language, feature the work that the kids have done and consider gathering testimony from the kids.  You can ask them about how Ella P. Stewart fought to build a place for all people and about how Jesus responded to the four friends and the man who lived with paralysis.  You can also showcase their Pocket Prayer Quilts (or the big quilt if you made it) as well as the prostheses that they made while learning about how overcoming a disability can be superhuman.

How to say "Yes!" to the kids and to this project?

Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for your church to be a place where ALL people are welcome.  Consider if the time spent on this project is worth even just one person feeling that the church has seen them and appreciates them.  Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for the kids to feel like they have been seen, heard, and can make a difference.

Now, here's what you can say when a kid asks the following:

Kid: "Are we doing that big project for the church about using language for everybody?

You: "Yes, but it will take some time and effort and we may have to convince some people so I'll need your help to get this project going, but it will all be worth it because we are builders of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom."

Building A Place for All:

 “They rubbed their eyes, amazed—and then glorified God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”

From Mark 2:1-12

 
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Building A Place for Heroes

Prepare your church to care for veterans and others who may have experienced trauma by holding a “Care for Returning Veterans Workshop.”

A "Care for Returning Veterans Workshop" is an important step for your congregation to take as it commits or recommits to understanding the particular challenges faced by veterans, especially surrounding PTSD.  The ELCA has provided an excellent resource for how to do this including a powerpoint or DVD to be used at the workshop.  This workshop is not for veterans, although they are welcome to attend, it is actually for the leaders and members of your church so that they can be equipped to care for veterans.  If you prefer to start with a workshop on general mental health, we recommend looking to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and their excellent resources for helping churches to care for people experiencing mental illness or trauma.

Special Note:  Many veterans are uncomfortable with being called a "hero."  They may even say things like they don't belong in "a place for heroes."  These feelings may be connected to trauma.  They are legitimate feelings that should not be disregarded.  The workshop will help you to understand these feelings and how to talk with a veteran who has them.

Here are some potential goals for this project:

  • Assemble a taskforce to lead a workshop.

  • Dedicate time to reading about and learning about trauma, the needs of veterans, and mental health.

  • Review the "Care For Returning Veterans Workshop" resources as well as the NAMI resources.

  • Hold a workshop for your church.

Who should be helping to lead this project?

We highly recommend that you include kids as much as possible.  There are even some recommendations below on how to do that.  For this project you may also want to include a pastor, your Christian Education committee chair, and a veteran.  You should also prioritize including a mental health professional.

The participants have been tracking how awesome they are and how much they're learning about the guides' stories, Jesus' stories, and their own story.  They're becoming excellent builders of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom, so give them a Big Church Project to work on!!!

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How can you make sure kids are involved?

Kids are the key to the kingdom so you can't build Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom without them.  Here are some ways to follow the lead of the kids on this project:

  • Consider inviting a kid and a youth to join your workshop taskforce.

  • When you are researching helping people who are experiencing trauma, invite the kids to talk with your taskforce about what they have learned.  All of the kids who have taken part in Hero Hospital have already done some deep thinking on the question, "What should you do if your friend experiences an illness or disability?"

  • In your communication to the whole congregation about your workshop, feature the work that the kids have done and consider gathering testimony from the kids.  You can ask them about how Harriet Tubman dealt with her own trauma and brain injury to build a place for heroes and about how Jesus responded when he met people experiencing mental illness.  You can also showcase their Inner Strength Tattoo Stamps as well as the hovercrafts that they made while learning about overcoming emotional friction.

How to say "Yes!" to the kids and to this project?

Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for your church to be a place where heroes like veterans are welcome.  Consider if the time spent on this project is worth even just one person feeling that the church has seen them and appreciates them.  Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for the kids to feel like they have been seen, heard, and can make a difference.

Now, here's what you can say when a kid asks the following:

Kid: "Are we doing that big project for the veterans and how they feel?

You: "Yes, but this is not an easy subject to talk about and we'll need to carefully get ready so I'll need your help to get this project going, but it will all be worth it because we are builders of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom."

Building A Place for Heroes:

 “He taught people the truth of God—the good news of the kingdom.

Word got around.  Jesus healed them, one and all.”

From Matthew 4:19-25

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Building A Place for Hope

Join or host a pennies-on-the-dollar fundraiser for medical debt relief.

It's easy to pay off medical debt, at a deep discount, for people in financial difficulty.  As you are probably well aware, it is not easy to fundraise.  Here's the easy part, go to this site to learn about and to set up a debt relief fundraiser.  As you'll see, every penny you raise is able to pay off a dollar in debt.  A $1,000 dollar fundraiser can pay off $100,000 in debt.  That means no amount you raise is too small.  Utilize your own experience with fundraising and the resources offered by the site to hold your fundraiser.  There are probably even people in your congregation who are facing mounting medical debts.  Your fundraiser is helping a person like that.

Here are some potential goals for this project:

  • Assemble a taskforce to hold a fundraiser.

  • Dedicate time to reading about and learning about debt-relief fundraisers.

  • Review the RIP resources and your most successful fundraiser.  (A text-message based fundraiser and a good sermon from the pastor works well for this project.)

  • Set a dollar amount goal for your fundraiser.

  • Hold your fundraiser.

Who should be helping to lead this project?

We highly recommend that you include kids as much as possible.  There are even some recommendations below on how to do that.  For this project you may also want to include a deacon or pastor, your finance secretary, your youth leader (because they probably do lots of fundraising), and someone who is gifted with using social media.

The participants have been tracking how awesome they are and how much they're learning about the guides' stories, Jesus' stories, and their own story.  They're becoming excellent builders of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom, so give them a Big Church Project to work on!!!

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How can you make sure kids are involved?

Kids are the key to the kingdom so you can't build Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom without them.  Here are some ways to follow the lead of the kids on this project:

  • Consider inviting a kid and a youth to join your fundraiser taskforce.

  • When you are researching medical debt relief, invite the kids to talk with your taskforce about what they have learned.  All of the kids who have taken part in Hero Hospital have already done some deep thinking on making sure people receive the help they need.

  • In your communication to the whole congregation about your fundraiser, feature the work that the kids have done and consider gathering testimony from the kids.  You can ask them about how Saint Fabiola dedicated her life to providing medical care to those in need.  She gave freely of her time and treasure and the impacts were multiplied.   You can also ask them about how Jesus responded when his power was used to help a woman living with a hemorrhage.  You can also showcase their $10,000 Bill Collages and Giant Check Colorings as well as their investigation into real dollars and cents.

How to say "Yes!" to the kids and to this project?

Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for your church to be a place known for bringing relief to those in need.  Consider if the time spent on this project is worth even just one person feeling that a church cares about their problems.  Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for the kids to feel like they have been seen, heard, and can make a difference.

Now, here's what you can say when a kid asks the following:

Kid: "Are we doing that big project where we get to use pennies to pay huge doctor bills?

You: "Yes, but we might have to convince some people its worth the time when we're already trying to raise money for other things so I'll need your help to tell the story of why this project matters as we build of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom."

Building A Place for Hope:

 “Jesus said, 'Daughter, now you’re healed and whole.

Go in Peace.  Live well, live blessed!'”

From Luke 8:40-56

 
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Building A Place for Healing

Collect and donate gently-used glasses or raise funds for cataract surgeries.

When we read about blindness in the Bible, we can get a sense of how desperate people were for help.  Ophthalmology did not exist in any real form at that point, so the healing touch of Jesus was the only source of relief a person living with any vision problems could find.  Blessedly, the guiding hand of God has brought amazing vision care and cures to the masses.  A simple pair of eyeglasses can drastically change a person's quality of life.  A simple cataract surgery can bring sight to the blind.  These treatments are gifts from God we'd be foolish not to share to as many people as possible.  The Lions Club is a world leader in vision care.  All you have to do to be a healer of blindness is collect eye-glasses and drop them off at a collection location.

Here are some potential goals for this project:

  • Assemble a taskforce to hold an eye-glasses collection.

  • Dedicate time to reading about vision care around the world.

  • Connect with a local Lions Club (or other organization that collects glasses) about nearby collections sites or making your church a collection site.

  • Set a goal for the number of eye-glasses you'd like to collect.

  • Hold your collection.

Who should be helping to lead this project?

We highly recommend that you include kids as much as possible.  There are even some recommendations below on how to do that.  For this project you may also want to include a deacon or pastor, your outreach committee chair, a member of Lions Club or another organization that collects eye-glasses, and someone who is gifted with collecting items.

The participants have been tracking how awesome they are and how much they're learning about the guides' stories, Jesus' stories, and their own story.  They're becoming excellent builders of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom, so give them a Big Church Project to work on!!!

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How can you make sure kids are involved?

Kids are the key to the kingdom so you can't build Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom without them.  Here are some ways to follow the lead of the kids on this project:

  • Consider inviting a kid and a youth to join your eye-glasses collection taskforce.

  • When you are researching vision care around the world, invite the kids to talk with your taskforce about what they have learned.  All of the kids who have taken part in Hero Hospital have already done some deep thinking on the questions, "Why do some people experience something like blindness when others don’t?"

  • In your communication to the whole congregation about your collection, feature the work that the kids have done and consider gathering testimony from the kids.  You can ask them about how Dr. Susan Le Flesche Picotte made herself into a groundbreaking healer by always keeping the needs of others as her focus.  You can also ask them about how Jesus treated a person who had been living with blindness since the day he was born, in contrast to just about everybody else around.  You should also use their amazing Eye-glass Collectors as well as their investigation into the miracles of sight.

How to say "Yes!" to the kids and to this project?

Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for your church to be a place known for bringing relief to those in need.  Consider if the time spent on this project is worth even just one person feeling that a church cares about their problems.  Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for the kids to feel like they have been seen, heard, and can make a difference.

Now, here's what you can say when a kid asks the following:

Kid: "Are we doing that big project where we get a bunch of glasses for people all over the world?

You: "Yes, but we might have to convince some people its worth the time because they don't realize how life-changing glasses can be for others, so I'll need your help to tell the story of why this project matters as we build of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom."

Building A Place for Healing:

 “I know one thing for sure: that though I was blind, now I see.  I came into the clear light of day.”

From John 9:1-41

 
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Building A Place for Discovery

Hold a community blood drive at your church

and campaign for lots of donors.

Holding a blood drive is easy.  You provide the space and a team of healthcare professionals does the drive.  If you don't believe me, ask one of your neighboring churches that holds blood drives.  If you do believe me, you may be a church that already does blood drives!  Bravo.  The American Red Cross has an excellent guide for how to host your first blood drive.  Whether it's your first drive or your 100th, you'll want to get the word out and encourage people to participate.  Every donation made is potentially a life saved.  In the pandemic, donating blood is a definite way you can make a positive impact.

Here are some potential goals for this project:

  • Assemble a taskforce to hold a blood drive.

  • Dedicate time to reading about blood drives.

  • Connect with the American Red Cross or another organization that holds blood drives.

  • Set a goal for the number donors you'd like to have at your drive.

  • Hold a blood drive.

Who should be helping to lead this project?

We highly recommend that you include kids as much as possible.  There are even some recommendations below on how to do that.  For this project you may also want to include a deacon or pastor, your building manager, someone who is experienced in donating blood, and someone who is gifted in using social media.

The participants have been tracking how awesome they are and how much they're learning about the guides' stories, Jesus' stories, and their own story.  They're becoming excellent builders of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom, so give them a Big Church Project to work on!!!

Builder Book.png

How can you make sure kids are involved?

Kids are the key to the kingdom so you can't build Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom without them.  Here are some ways to follow the lead of the kids on this project:

  • Consider inviting a kid and a youth to join your blood drive taskforce.

  • When you are researching blood drives, invite the kids to talk with your taskforce about what they have learned.  All of the kids who have taken part in Hero Hospital have already done some deep thinking on the question, "Why do some people recover from an illness or injury when others don’t?"

  • In your communication to the whole congregation about your blood drive, feature the work that the kids have done and consider gathering testimony from the kids.  You can ask them about Hildegard of Bingen and her pioneering work in healthcare, while also serving as an abbess, composer, and prophet.  You can also ask them about how Jesus demonstrated how being a life-saver means never turning down a chance to help.  You MUST also use their Blood Donor Stickers at your blood drive and even consider using the designs they make and what they learn about getting hearts pumping in a social media campaign to bring out donors.

How to say "Yes!" to the kids and to this project?

Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for your church to be a place known for taking action to help save lives.  Consider if the time spent on this project is worth even just one person feeling that a church cares.  Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for the kids to feel like they have been seen, heard, and can make a difference.

Now, here's what you can say when a kid asks the following:

Kid: "Are we doing that big project where we do a blood drive even though needles are gross?

You: "Yes, but we'll need to make sure that people realize this is OUR blood drive and not just something happening in our building, so I'll need your help to tell the story of why this project matters as we build Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom."

Building A Place for Discovery:

 “Jesus said, 'the people are to know all about God—streaming in from the east, pouring in from the west, sitting down at God’s kingdom banquet.'”

From Matthew 8:1-13

 
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Building A Place for Praise

#SupportHealthcareHeroes

and prepare home cleaning kits for frontline workers.

To make a difference in a crisis, you don't have to be one of the people working on the frontlines, you can be a supporter of those frontline workers.  You very likely have frontline workers at your church in this global pandemic.  We don't just mean the nurses, technicians, and doctors at your local hospital or clinic, we also mean the store clerks, delivery drivers, custodians, food service workers, teachers, bus drivers, and many more people who have been working in public--exposed to the virus--while others have been able to limit their exposure.  Many of these frontline workers have even lost their lives to the pandemic.  Here's a list of ways to help healthcare workers, released right at the start of the pandemic.  We also recommend finding local connections and ways to offer support, like purchasing hard-to-find items at the store for workers who don't have the time to hunt those items down at the store.  Also, be sure they your social media presence is in support of frontline workers.

Here are some potential goals for this project:

  • Assemble a taskforce to support frontline workers.

  • Dedicate time to reading articles and statements put out by frontline workers about the support they're looking for.

  • Connect with a local hospital, grocery store, school, or other institution that has a lot of frontline workers so you can hear directly from them about what would be helpful.

  • Create a plan for supporting local frontline workers that coincides with a push for support on social media.

  • Hold a collection, drive, fundraiser, or whatever it is that you've come up with.

Who should be helping to lead this project?

We highly recommend that you include kids as much as possible.  There are even some recommendations below on how to do that.  For this project you may also want to include a deacon or pastor, your outreach committee chair, frontline workers from your congregation, and someone who is gifted in using social media.

The participants have been tracking how awesome they are and how much they're learning about the guides' stories, Jesus' stories, and their own story.  They're becoming excellent builders of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom, so give them a Big Church Project to work on!!!

Builder Book.png

How can you make sure kids are involved?

Kids are the key to the kingdom so you can't build Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom without them.  Here are some ways to follow the lead of the kids on this project:

  • Consider inviting a kid and a youth to join your blood drive taskforce.

  • When you are researching how to support frontline workers, invite the kids to talk with your taskforce about what they have learned.  All of the kids who have taken part in Hero Hospital have already done some deep thinking on the question, "How can you help those who care for people experiencing an illness or disability?"

  • In your communication to the whole congregation about your effort to support frontline workers, feature the work that the kids have done and consider gathering testimony from the kids.  You can ask them about Cecilia Makiwane who was a frontline worker during a different pandemic and even fought against a pandemic of hate in South Africa.  You can also ask them about how Jesus demonstrated building up praise for God through the good being done in a community.  You should also help participants give out their "You Rocks!" to be who have made a difference during the pandemic.

How to say "Yes!" to the kids and to this project?

Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for your church to be a supporter of the people who have made sacrifices during the pandemic.  Consider if the time spent on this project is worth even just one person feeling that a church sees them and appreciates them.  Ask yourself if it is worthwhile for the kids to feel like they have been seen, heard, and can make a difference.

Now, here's what you can say when a kid asks the following:

Kid: "Are we doing that big project where we use hashtags and stuff to support people in the pandemic?

You: "Yes, and we'll need to get creative about how best to show our support for frontline workers, so I'll need your help bringing everything you've learned at Hero Hospital about how to build Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom to this project."

Building A Place for Praise:

 “And the entire crowd was delighted and cheered, rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.”

From Luke 13:10-17

 
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About the Authors

Hero Hospital is a collaborative effort of people and churches in the Southern Ohio Synod and beyond.  Dan Jacob (Ministry Associate at Wittenberg University and Youth Leader at Peace Lutheran in Beavercreek) and Gary Pecuch (SOS Youth and Family Ministry Coach) have organized these efforts.  Special thanks goes to Katie Jacob, pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Masillon, OH, for working through how to share the Big Church Projects.

If you're curious about how all these original materials were made then check out Inkscape (graphic design), DaVinci Resolve (videos), Animatron (animations), EZgif (gifs), Artfire (lego minifigures), Audacity (audio clips), and Wix (website).

The bannerblue.org site also showcases much of the other work of Dan and the artists he works with.  If you'd like to support projects like Hero Hospital, please consider heading over to the Make Mobile page to check out another major project that could use your help.