By Cherie Werner
VBS is an event that draws many new people to your church. This makes it an excellent opportunity to welcome families from the neighborhood and begin forming relationships with them. It is those relationships that open the door to their hearts and create a pathway for the Gospel.
Before we get started with the list of tips, remember this: you can work and work and work to get people to come to your church, but bringing people to faith is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit. So, no matter what you do, your work must begin and end with prayer. Ask God to show you the direction you need to take. Ask him to work in the hearts of the people who come to VBS. Ask him to draw them close in faith.
Now, let’s get started!
Assign a few VBS volunteers to serve as greeters each day. The greeters can speak to attendees as they arrive, in order to make them feel welcome. Make sure the volunteers direct the VBS families, and let them know what to do when they first get there.
Give parents a reason to stick around.
Offer coffee and other refreshments. Provide a place for parents to stop and talk to other parents. Invite them to the opening worship or sing-along. Be open to anyone who wants to stay and travel around with their children.
Schedule your closing program to happen during a church service.
Invite all families and involve the VBS kids as a part of the closing service.
Provide a reason to return.
Before they leave, give VBS attendees information about other events they might enjoy as a family. Include information about your worship times and other events at your church.
As a part of the registration process, collect each family’s contact information, including address, phone numbers, and email addresses. You will need this for the week of VBS, but also ask permission to stay connected with them in the future. Before they leave, ask each family to fill out an interest or needs card. Use that information to get them connected to the various ministries within your church. Also ask questions like: What did you like? What did you not like? What would you like to see in the future? How can we make your experience better?
Match ’em up.
Recruit families from your church who are willing to be friends of new families. Pair up church families with the VBS families who aren’t regular attenders. Encourage the church families to connect with the VBS families outside of church and also invite them to church events. Most importantly, ask them to pray for those new families, asking the Holy Spirit to do his work.
Send a thank you and give a call.
A few weeks after VBS, send a thank-you note to the participants. A few days after sending the note, have someone make a call to ask about the family’s experience.
Invite, invite, invite!
As the days and weeks pass after VBS, keep inviting. It takes a long time for some people to feel welcome. Send invitations through the mail and email, make calls, and encourage church members to personally invite people back.
As all of these interactions take place, take time to listen. As people talk, needs and struggles rise to the surface. Offer to pray for them and with them as they share their lives. It is those personal connections
that will keep people coming back.
Do you have a follow-up program for VBS? Tell us about it!
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