Intentionality wins the day when it comes to reaching and retaining new families. Even though VBS has traditionally been about reaching children with the Gospel, it can be a great way to connect and ultimately build relationships with unchurched families in your community. Here are four intentional ideas that can increase the overall effectiveness of the VBS effort.
1) VBS Kick-off Rally – This event serves as your main registration opportunity and should be advertised as such. Churches can have free food, games, bounce houses, sand piles, egg toss contests, etc. On Sunday night prior to VBS beginning on Monday, cordon off a church parking lot or grassy area near your church or secure permission to host the event at a well known park in your city. Make very sure that there is only one entrance to your event to house your registration table. At the registration table, people can not only register for the kick-off event but also register their children for VBS. Get info on parents, all the children living in the home, their ages/grades, phone numbers, email addresses, physical address, and church affiliation. Give color coded wrist bands to all who attend. For example, church members get blue, members at other churches in town get red, and people who identify no church affiliation get green. This will help your church people to know who to intentionally connect with during the event. You might even have church staff and other trained lay people present just to connect with unchurched families. Give every attending family a flyer as they leave reminding them of times and other directions for the week of VBS.
2) Photo Station – Set up a photo station during VBS that corresponds with the VBS theme. You might even bring props like a cowboy hat and red handkerchief for a western themed VBS. Take every child’s photo and use a computer program that will allow you to write something like this on each photo:
Vacation Bible School – 2011 New Hope Community Church
“I can do all things through Christ.” Phil. 4:13
Plan a follow-up night the week following VBS and hand deliver the photos to every child, thanking them for being a part of your VBS, and asking them if they have any questions or things that you could pray for them about. Be sure to remind them that there is a place for them at your church.
3) VBS Celebration Party – Rent your community’s swimming pool for Friday night after VBS. Send a note home every day after VBS inviting the “WHOLE FAMILY” to the Friday night VBS Celebration Swim Party. Don’t think of it as a night to fellowship with church members. Rather, train your people to use the night to connect and continue building relationships with people who are not Christ-followers. Teach your people to be intentional in inviting people to a small group and worship experience.
4) Sermon Series – Start a new sermon series the Sunday immediately following VBS that deals with Marriage, Family, or Finances. Have something to hand out to every family at the Friday night VBS Celebration Swim Party that tells about times, locations, and ages of your small groups on one side and the titles for the messages in your upcoming sermon series on the reverse.
Director – Evangelism and Discipleship Ministries
Illinois Baptist State Association