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Church members sing during an Easter morning worship service at the North Texas Leadership Training for Christ convention in Dallas.
Photo by Erik Tryggestad

Bobo the Unicorn and spiritual growth: It must be Bible bowl season again

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OKLAHOMA CITY — This is Lucy Tryggestad’s first — and possibly her fifth — year as a Bible bowler.

As a bonafide third grader, she is a first-time participant in our church’s Leadership Training for Christ program. Her sister, Maggie, who just turned 15, has been doing LTC since third grade. My wife, Jeanie, and I started helping out with Bible bowl a couple of years after that.

Lucy Tryggestad

Lucy Tryggestad

So little sister Lucy got to play along as an ex officio Bible bowler, sometimes outscoring kids twice her age.

I write the multiple-choice practice questions for our kids. I make sure to throw in a few jokes among the wrong answers. Lucy made me promise to include references to “Bobo the Unicorn,” the name she gave to a character in the Pixar film “Inside Out.” Last year I dropped in references to my Georgia Bulldogs winning the national championship. Too bad I can’t do that this year … oh, wait!

I think that LTC is one of the most important things we do to help our kids’ spiritual formation. It’s not just memorizing Bible facts. There are skits, puppet shows, art, poetry, song leading, signing for the deaf. It gets our children, grades 3 through 12, immersed in God’s Word.

Related: ‘God does good things here’ — and not just for kids

I’m a product of this system. Among the writing awards I’ve got hanging on my office wall is my “Leader of the Class” plaque from the Southside Church of Christ in Macon, Ga. I got it by memorizing Bible verses and giving speeches in our Lads to Leaders program. The award bears the name of the program’s red- jacketed founder, Jack Zorn. Lads to Leaders is still around, bigger than ever. (On Page 13 you can see that it’s even been exported to India.)

At hotels and conference venues across the U.S., tens of thousands of youths will gather for the L2L and LTC conventions this Easter weekend. That’s when we get the best deals on hotel rooms and the kids have time off from school.

Maggie Tryggestad signs at the 2022 Leadership Training for Christ event.

Maggie Tryggestad signs at the 2022 Leadership Training for Christ event.

These programs have a sometimes-strained relationship with church leaders and ministry staff since they tend to take congregations’ most stalwart members away on Easter Sunday, a big outreach day for once-per-year guests.

At the same time, I’ve seen kids get their friends involved in LTC, and then those friends’ parents get involved in church life.

I long to get The Christian Chronicle more involved with these conventions. I would love for us to be a resource for kids and coaches as they prepare. Perhaps one day we’ll sponsor a Christian journalism event. One complicating factor for me is that, during the convention, I’m busy shuttling my kids to their various events and doing last-minute rehearsals with our drama group.

It’s frantic. And it’s wonderful.

One simple thing we’re doing is theming our Word Find (Page 31) on the focus of this year’s LTC — Matthew. For several years we’ve been blessed with puzzles written by Betty Hollister, a longtime Chronicle reader in Oregon. Betty wrote the puzzles by hand on graph paper, and we transcribed them. Now our enterprising ad manager, Christi Roméo, has developed a system for generating our own puzzles.

This month’s Word Find is based on the genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew. Lucy helped me go through the chapter and find the names, so I gave her credit in the byline.

It’s a big year for Small Child. And it’s only February.

ERIK TRYGGESTAD is president and CEO of The Christian Chronicle. Contact [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @eriktryggestad.

Filed under: Bible bowl Children's ministry Insight Jack Zorn Lads to Leaders Leadership Training For Christ Memorial Road Church of Christ Opinion Southside Church of Christ Top Stories

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