By Stephanie Martin
Stop the revolving door effect and keep kids coming back to your church. Picture this: It’s summer, and VBS is over. You’ve gone through the rigors of selecting curriculum, recruiting and training volunteers, coordinating publicity, preparing crafts and songs, and buying truckloads (it seems) of snacks. Now you’re finished for another year. Right? Wrong.
It’s the time after VBS that’s the most crucial to your program’s success as an outreach tool. You need a follow-up plan to ensure that children—and their families—return to your church. Use these ideas to make this year’s VBS your Very Best Success.
VBS Adoption Kit—Make a kit with each child’s vital statistics: birthday, age, likes, interests, address, phone number, and family information. Then connect each child with a church family. Families can use the kits to get to know their “adoptees” throughout the year and encourage them to come to church and Sunday school.
VBS Reunion—Invite all the VBS children to a get-together every month or quarter. Make each reunion a wildly fun event that fits your VBS theme. For example, if you had a “treasures” theme, have a treasure hunt one time and a treasures of the heart auction the next where teams bid on treasured character qualities.
Follow-Up Committee—Before VBS begins, form a follow-up committee of volunteers who’ll be very visible throughout the week as they get to know visitors. For example, they may do all the drama or lead the singing so the children identify with them quickly.
Committee members stop by each visitor’s home during the week and deliver a Special Guest Pack with a children’s Bible, homemade cookies, church information, phone numbers to call if children need a ride to church, and a T-shirt that says, “I’m Special to God,” with your church name printed in small letters.
VBS Part 2—A few weeks after your VBS, schedule a few more sessions so children who’ve committed their lives to Christ during VBS can learn how to keep growing spiritually. Have teachers explain what being a Christian means and how children’s lives will be changed. Also, prepare children to share their newfound faith with others and then conduct an outreach event for them to practice.
Shepherd List—Use registration cards to make follow-up “shepherding” visits to children’s homes. Ask children about their interests and any questions they may have about your church. Explain to children that they’re Jesus’ little lambs and that you and
He want to see them become a permanent part of your flock!
Parents Night—Build relationships with children’s parents by having a Parents Night during your VBS. Encourage children to invite their parents or older siblings who can attend either an adult Bible study or VBS activities. Also, always require parents to come inside to pick up their children so you can make contact with them.
Visitors Day—Have a designated Visitors Day during your VBS with an ice cream social afterward. Make special name tags to recognize visitors and their parents. Have a group hug before everyone leaves, and send colorful fliers home with families so they know what your church has to offer all age levels.
Mini Outdoor VBS—After your regular VBS program, set up a mini-VBS in a back yard or cul-de-sac. Use leftover materials and crafts. Put up fliers in the area beforehand to attract kids’ attention, and invite them to your church when you’re done.
“No-Fail Follow-Up”. Written by Stephanie Martin.
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”