When leading volunteers, I found them asking me quite a bit for resources. I would share these resources (bible studies, books, movies, family-friendly attractions and more) on social media to equip them with tools to lead their families well.
I had the opportunity to go on vacation with my family last week. We made the 8 hour trek from South Carolina to the rolling plains of Kentucky in two days, stopping along the way. Our destination: The Creation Museum and newly built Ark Encounter in Williamstown, KY.
Allow me to give you my quick review of both of these family-friendly and faith-based attractions. I’ll give you some Pros and Cons to let you know if they are worth your time and money to visit. But, as always, you check it out and decide for yourself.
It’s big. Really big. The largest timber framed structure in the world. As we parked, you could see the ark from the Ticket Booth a mile away. We were then shuttled over to the site. The property currently includes the ark, a restaurant, a petting zoo, a pond, and some vendors. The folks at Answers in Genesis have big plans for the property in the future to include other attractions and building projects.
The bus let us off and we snapped a few pictures at a nicely landscaped photo op area in front of the ark. As we came closer, the scope of the structure caught us by surprise. Gone are the notions of Noah cramped in a tiny boat with all the animals. This boat was enormous.
As we made our way down the path to enter the first deck of the Ark, rain began to fall. Hmmm, fitting. Apparently it stormed during our entire time on the Ark – we didn’t hear a thing.
The first three decks featured exhibits showing Noah’s family, how they may have stored food, cages for animals, their living quarters, science exhibits and more. There were empty portions of the ark on the ends and in various places – obvious room to grow and for more exhibits to be introduced. The upper deck and roof were nearing completion for a full restaurant.
The attraction really brought the Bible to life, especially for my kids who could see a glimpse of what it could have been like on the ark. It took us 3-4 hours to make our way through the entire boat and to see all the exhibits. The design and structure was really a sight.
As we were making our way to the lower deck headed into a large gift shop, my 5-year son looked out the window and yelled, “Look, a rainbow!” Dozens of people heard him and rushed to the windows to take photos. I made my way out and took some pretty wild pictures. The one day we chose to visit the ark attraction, God throws a rainbow in the sky. Nice.
This attraction is definitely worth taking your family. As more and more people visit over the year and as the AiG team continues to build, the entire property is going to be quite the attraction for believers (and non-believers too!).
We spent a day and a half at the Creation Museum on our trip. When entering the museum, the walls are filled with feature exhibits and information about dragons. The first exhibits, plus the shirts all the workers wore, made the point that dinosaurs were created by God on Day 6 and lived among humans.
On our first day, we took in a really informative Planetarium show called “Created Cosmos”. The film showed where Earth is in comparison to the Sun, other planets, and other galaxies. How someone can believe all that we know and see was the result of millions of years of “goo to you” theory – I’ll never know. Speaking of which, it has been interesting to read and watch Scientist Bill Nye spar with AiG founder Ken Ham.
Ken invited Bill to opening day of the Ark Encounter and Bill showed up with a film crew. You can watch a snippet of their conversation on the ark below. Quick question that’s puzzling me – if Bill Nye believes “when you die, that’s it, you’re done”, why did he show up to check out the ark?
So, anyway, back to the Museum. It took us about 3-4 hours to make our way through the Walk Through History featuring exhibits walking you through the days of Creation, the fall of man, sin’s destruction, Noah and the flood, and more. The Creation Museum property, located about 45 minutes from the Ark attraction, also features a nice botanical gardens that feature zip line adventure tours, a petting zoo, camel rides, a geology mining site and more. The Museum’s Special Effects Theater featured two short films that we saw – honestly both films could’ve been better but they were worth a watch.
All in all, these attractions are very well done. My wife and I were really surprised and impressed with the quality of both the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter. If you are looking for a fun, family vacation – these are very much worth the money. One thing I had to keep reminding myself when tour both sites was that there was a good chance that 95% of the people around me were believers. I could overhear parents teaching their kids about creation, God, Jesus, sin, Noah, the flood, and other biblical stories. It really presented some great exhibits to start conversations with my kids.
Support these efforts by believers that are making these attractions for you and your family. Go see these things. Get involved. Share your ideas. If you have suggestions, give them! Let’s join in and lead the creative process in creating art in its various forms for the Church.
Carl Barnhill has served on staff at some of the largest churches and organizations in the country. He served as Media Director at Precept Ministries International, directing the television and radio program Precepts for Life with Kay Arthur, broadcasted to over 98 million homes around the world. He served as Video Production Director at Pinelake Church in Brandon, MS, where he produced media content for four campuses, as well as led volunteer teams.
He most recently served as Video Coordinator for Newspring Church in South Carolina. Newspring has 10 campuses across the state with a weekly attendance of over 35,000. At one campus alone, the number of consistent volunteers serving in media production tripled, under his leadership.
He currently serves as Creative Director and Owner of[twelve:thirty]media, a company that serves churches and ministries all over the world through motion graphics content and church media coaching.