As you can tell from recent posts we are just a little - actually extremely - excited about VBS 2012 Amazing Wonders Aviation. It is that time of year when we are never certain which year we are living in. Churches are in the midst of VBS 2011, our editorial and design team is putting the finishing touches on VBS 2012, and next week we start theme development for VBS 2013! Yep, you read it correctly - our calendars are already turning to 2013!
But before we get too carried away with VBS 2012 or even 2013, there is still much to do in 2011. The real work - follow-up - of VBS 2011 is just beginning. While you might be anxious to tear down the decorations, store the supplies, and close the books on another great year of VBS, don't make the mistake of closing the books on the unchurched families you discovered this summer. Far too many churches have a "see you next year" approach to the unchurched families who attend VBS. Instead of thinking "see you next year" we must start asking the question, "What can we as a church do to insure that we see you next week?"
Our data shows that approximately 10 percent of VBS attendees are unchurched. For a large number of churches this means 10 people. Add parents and siblings to the mix and you have 40 people. What would your church look like in five years if you added 40 people per year (that's 200 people)? Possible? Absolutely! But it requires work.
Simply inviting an unchurched family to come to Sunday School is a start, but moving them from VBS to active participation in the life of the church requires an aggressive and intentional process of building relationships.
When families fill out VBS registration cards they give us their names, ages, addresses, phone numbers, and E-mail addresses, plus they demonstrate a willingness to have a relationship with the church. They gift the church with a wealth of information and basically say, "we're providing you an all access pass to get to know us and involve us in the ministries of your church."
We put a lot of time, thought, and resources into VBS. To be successful we have to put even more time, thought and resources into following up on the unchurched families we discover during VBS - we call it building relationships. It doesn't happen in a week or even a month. Building relationships is an ongoing process that requires the commitment and efforts of the entire congregation. How does that Scripture go - something about the harvest being plentiful?
What is your VBS follow-up process? How will the information be put to use? What other ministry events (connection points) will the unchurched families be invited to attend? How many intentional connection points have been planned for the next six months?
Follow-up begins long before the first day of VBS, but if you haven't created a process for 2011 it is not too late. Don't forget, the real work of VBS begins today!