Archive for Vacation Bible School

An Untapped Field: Enroll VBS Families in Sunday School

vbsWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Every year at VBS there are lots of children and families that aren’t members of your church, but once VBS is over, they are no longer there.

WHAT TO DO? Try these ideas:

  1. Educate adult classes before VBS that one of the main purposes is to connect families to the church. Ask classes to make sure they are at the Family Celebration to connect with families.
  2. Implement a plan to connect the new families with those who would be in their class.   Look for common interests in the children to help them connect.
  3. Provide packets for church members pick up and take to prospective families.  The packets should include information about Sunday School and other ministries provided by the church.
  4. Have one of the child’s VBS leaders team up with an adult leader to deliver a craft or picture the child made.  This will help the family feel more comfortable as they see the familiar face and ease them into the invitation to the Sunday School class.
  5. Plan to have a new class begin the Sunday after VBS.  If parents know that they will not be the only “newcomers” to a class they may feel more comfortable joining.  This class could begin with a Parenting Class.
  6. Invite the families to class and to special events such as a Back-to-School Bash or Fall Festival sponsored by the church or by the Sunday School class.
  7. As members contact families, they may discover needs and be able to help meet those needs.  This will help draw the family to the church as they realize the church cares about them.

Reaching Vacation Bible School Families

VBSbanner15Each year, Vacation Bible School is the largest prospect discovery project or method for many churches. In fact, about 25-30% of baptisms in Southern Baptist churches are a result of VBS. In addition to key prospect information about participants in VBS, additional information is discovered about their families: parents, siblings, and others residing with the attenders. On top of that, ministry needs are discovered.

Each of these facts are opportunities for Sunday School to step in to follow up. So many times, VBS has required so much time and energy that when it is over, church leaders walk away with relief at a good experience. They stack registration cards on a shelf and don’t think about them until next year. What a wasted opportunity!

Instead, there are so many ways that Sunday School can capitalize upon the great investment of time and energy during VBS. Consider some of the following:

  • Enlist a VBS follow up director whose single job is to mobilize Sunday School teachers and workers to visit and contact all VBS prospects and their families.
  • Ask adult and youth Sunday School classes to set aside a specific time to pray for VBS and for prospects to be enrolled and won to Christ.
  • Set a goal for enrolling VBS prospects and family members in Sunday School.
  • Enlist Sunday School leaders to help with advance and daily VBS registration.
  • Make sure you get thorough records of every VBS participant and their families.
  • Set up a special day immediately after VBS (within 72 hours) for Sunday School classes (and/or VBS workers) to visit all VBS prospects and families.
  • Send information home with every prospect on the final day of VBS about Sunday School classes and other church activities appropriate for each age group.
  • Have the pastor send a letter to every VBS prospect the week after VBS with information about the location of the age appropriate Sunday School class(es).
  • Share reports about VBS with your congregation so they can share in the excitement, follow up, and prayer.
  • Plan a VBS Day in Sunday School on the Sunday after VBS and don’t remove the decorations or allow children to take home their VBS materials until then. Invite parents and families. Celebrate VBS in worship. Sing VBS songs. Share testimonies. Show pictures from the week set to a VBS song. Recognize each age group. Give everyone present a handout with information about Sunday School classes.
  • Ask Sunday School classes to sponsor a VBS Carnival on Sunday night after VBS with each class providing a game/booth and refreshments. Provide all attenders with a handout with Sunday School class information. Allow the children to earn 5 tickets per day during VBS to spend at the Carnival. Ask each set of VBS teachers to sponsor one of the games so they can meet some of the families.

Do everything you can to get to know and care for VBS participants and their families. Make VBS even better. Partner with Sunday School in following up VBS. Invite them to Sunday School. Invite them to Jesus!

For more ideas on following up VBS and contacting and caring for prospects, check out these blog posts:

Is VBS History? Maybe not!


Months of preparation, effort, energy, time, and money has been expended in getting ready for Vacation Bible School. Now it’s Friday, the children are gone, and the workers are finishing taking down decorations and cleaning up their rooms. Maybe there’s the closing VBS Celebration Sunday night, but for all practical purposes, VBS is over for another year.  Or is it?

Why do we have VBS? To have an intensive week of Bible studies, mission stories, upbeat music, recreation, and snacks? Yes to all of the above. But the main reason we have VBS is to discover prospects: boys and girls and their parents in our communities who are not involved in a church or Bible study; people who need the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

VBS is not over when the last child leaves, the last decoration is packed away, or the closing night celebration ends. VBS is not over until every child and parent in the community has come to Christ.

Do you remember those enrollment/registration cards you had each child fill out during VBS?  Please don’t put a rubber band around the cards and set them on a shelf in the Sunday School office. Those cards are invaluable! They are the reason for VBS! Make copies and have people pray for the names on the cards. Study the cards for names of those who do not have a church home. Send a postcard or letter thanking them for coming and inviting them to Sunday School.

But don’t stop there! Assign the prospects to the appropriate preschool, children, youth, and adult Sunday School classes for follow-up as well.  Think long-term relationship-building.  Use a variety of ways to build friendships with prospects: week one, make a quick front-door home visit leaving SS literature or a magazine; week two, send a postcard; week three, make a phone call; week four, send a text or email.  Invite prospects to other church events and activities.

If there is indifference toward attending SS or church, then focus on ministry to them rather than just trying to get them to attend. For example, ask for prayer concerns, and then follow-up a week or so later. Build relationships without just focusing on their attendance. Keep ministering to your prospects, whether they come or not. Be a friend in Christ’s Name.

VBS is not over on Friday or Sunday afternoon, or even this past summer. The work of contacting and cultivating boys and girls, men and women should continue. Keep those enrollment/registration cards visible and work them. Think long-term and continue cultivating friendships.

For more information on VBS follow-up or Sunday School, contact: Jeff Ingram, adult ministry strategist, Louisiana Baptist Convention,, or 318.448.

Know Your Possibilities

This is day 23 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School


At the first church that I served as a staff person, we enlisted a relatively new church member as our Sunday School director. He had come from a larger church in a nearby town and had success in leading a growing Sunday School. He approached his new role with confidence and enthusiasm, implementing several new ideas into the ministry. One of them was to organize and promote a high attendance day with a goal – that he came up with on his own – of having 300 people in attendance.

The big challenge was that the church had never in its history had a Sunday with 200 in attendance let alone 300. Unfazed, our Sunday School director held to his lofty goal. When the big day arrived, the actual Sunday School attendance was the highest the church had ever had . . . yet, there was disappointment at having “failed” to reach the goal. Knowing the actual possibilities would have helped our Sunday School director set a goal that was challenging yet attainable, offering him the opportunity to motivate leaders, create momentum, and celebrate a victory.

Knowing the possibilities helps Sunday School leaders set goals and chart a course for growth both in the short and long term. Here are some sources of information that will assist in this endeavor.

Community Demographics
Census data reveals raw population numbers and other descriptive pieces of information. But a demographic report can also reveal trends and changes in types of families in your area, population based on proximity to your church, and even religious affiliation of homes near your church. Your state convention may be able to not only provide this type of information, but help you interpret and apply it to your Sunday School grouping strategy.

SS Class Rolls
Conducting an annual examination of your class rolls will also help understand possibilities for growth. Knowing not only how many have fallen out of regular attendance but also who they are and what life stage or family make-up they represent will give you clues toward what new groups need to be considered in your Sunday School organization.

Unique Attenders per Month
While we regularly calculate average Sunday School attendance, one often overlooked piece of information is the number of different people that attend Sunday School in a given month. For example, a class that averages 20 in attendance likely does not have the same 20 every week. In fact, the class may have 30 different people that attend at least once a month. If half of the marginal attenders are more intentionally connected to and cared for by the class to the point that their attendance increases to 2-3 times per month, the average attendance will increase proportionately. When this happens, other fruit such as personal spiritual disciplines, service, giving, and

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witnessing are more likely to increase as well.

Prospects and Potentials
A final group that helps define the possibilities are those in the past year who have been guests

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in worship services, attended special events, had children in Vacation Bible School, had students involved in youth ministry, or were connected through a community ministry. David Francis also suggests encouraging classes to make lists of their FRANs (Friends, Relatives, Associates, and Neighbors) as a way of identifying those who have a relational connection to people already in Sunday School. This list gives classes a great start in conducting intentional outreach.
David Bond
Arkansas Baptist State Convention



Supporting the Parents

This is day 14 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School.

Sunday School is for kids. NOT!

But that attitude has been prevalent among the general population for at least the last two or three generations. Parents feel good about sending their kids to Sunday School. They feel like their children will benefit from some religious instruction, yet they have no idea what to teach them or how. So sending them to Sunday School is a relief…they have done their religious “duty” with their children.

In contrast, God’s plan has always been for parents to be the spiritual leaders of their kids. (Read Deuteronomy 6:4-7.) Bible learning groups at church should supplement and enrich the parents’ instruction, not become a substitute for it. But what if they don’t know how…or why…or what?

A Sunday School with a missionary mentality will do its best to support the parents. Here are a few practical ways your Sunday School can support parents in becoming spiritual leaders in the home.

Kids Sunday School teachers, from preschool through youth, are key players:

  • Treat parents as partners. Make an effort to meet all of the parents and make some kind of contact with them at least 2-3 times a year. Let them know what you do and teach.
  • Take-home pages for preschoolers and grade-schoolers are helpful tools for parents. By reading the stories to their children and doing the suggested activities, parents can reinforce the Bible truth taught on Sunday.
  • Suggest that families establish a tradition while driving home after church on Sunday: each family member – including the parent – tells one thing they studied or learned during Bible study. These statements can often lead to short conversations about spiritual matters.

Adult Teachers have many opportunities to support parents:

I challenge you to choose at least one idea to put into practice starting this week.

Marie Clark has served as Bible Teaching & Discipling Team Leader for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists since 1996. She is passionate about Sunday School and its impact on children and is a volunteer in her church’s Sunday School.