This week’s VBS Geek of the Week, was nominated by some of his friends during the VBS Preview in Ridgecrest, NC. So, just know we are always on the lookout for geeks, and you may not even know you’ve been nominated! Welcome, David Kirkland! Glad you’ve joined the Geek of the Week Club!
1. Geekiest moment would have to be developing a “persona” to go along with each years theme. After seeing “Pearl” the homeless lady at the Ridgecrest event, I developed my own version and named him Pete Earl. Pete has his own Facebook page as well as a video series that we taped to show each Sunday leading up to VBS at our church, Oak Street Baptist in Maryville Tennessee. The funniest video happened as we were filming in the “seedy side” of our town. After dark we set up behind our local shopping center to film a “stake-out” in the “Bronx”. My assistant youth minister had created a news anchor character and was “on location” filming a segment about the homeless epidemic when guess who shows up? Pete Earl, who else??? I am dressed in a ladies bath robe I found in the church’s rummage room, a Toys-R-Us shopping cart I borrowed and filled with an old TV, a blender I drank from, jumper cables, you name it, Pete had it!!! I just knew the Maryville Police would show up and haul us to the looney bin. We filmed it all in about 3 takes and could not stop laughing at the sight of each other because we had no script and just “ad-libed” the gist of how we wanted the scene to develop. If you listened closely to the video, you could hear our wives laughing and snorting in the background. After wrapping up for the night, we loaded the cars, and you guessed it, MPD rolled through!!! HYSTERICAL!!!
2. Favorite Theme is Boomerang Express. Months before our VBS, I began working on my best Steve Irwin accent. I used this accent exclusively around the house, at work, and at church; so much so that I could do it without thinking. I even led the choir and the congregational hymns and did the announcements with an Australian accent. I became so believable visitors at our church were so impressed with our church choosing this theme since I was from Australia. No one in our youth group or our church who was “in the know” told anyone any different. At the end of our VBS commencement, we announced the theme for the following year which was Saddle Ridge Ranch. I then came out dressed as a cowboy using my best western accent and the visitors could not believe I was not actually from Australia. As I made my rounds during the family night that followed, I spoke to all of those families in my usual Southern/East Tennessee accent and their jaws just dropped! Their children had went home and told them that I was from Australia.
3. I continue to do VBS every year because it is the greatest evangelistic outreach that our church does for our community. Our church has grown 40% in the last 5 years and I credit that to the children who come to our church and take that VBS excitement home to their families and those families come back to our church to see what all the fuss is about. We had a family join our church because I had purchased a cowboy outfit complete with a stuffed horse around my waist and walked up and down the road in front of our church waving at cars that passed by. That family saw my enthusiasm and said to themselves “that looks like a really great church.”
4. You might be a VBS geek if…you try to purchase and raise a live chicken to be your sidekick in the VBS worship rally. I did not actually do this because Tractor Supply refused to sell me just one chick and my wife would not let me have the 5-chick minimum that they required in order to sell it to me.
5. My favorite part of the VBS preview is being on-stage with Jeff Slaughter. My wife and I both wept as we read the news of Jeff’s departure from Lifeway VBS.
David during Saddle Ridge Ranch
Pete Earl at Big Apple Adventure
David and his team at the Ridgecrest VBS Preview