The best VBS leaders are learners, and the best learners enjoy sharing with others what they have learned through trial and error. Today's advice comes from Ginger Owens, Minister of Childhood Education, First Baptist Church Panama City, Florida.
We just completed VBS "Journey Off The Map" with our focus being reaching those who are unchurched. We had 80 families mark the registration card that they do not attend church anywhere! That represents about 40% of the kids enrolled.
We had a total of 27 kids from unchurched families who made decisions to follow Christ. We counseled each child on an individual basis to give counselors the opportunity to gather more information about them.
One child from an unchurched family was baptized during Family Night. His father made his decision to follow Christ the following Monday night during our FAITH visitation. Four children, again from unchurched families, were baptized the Sunday after VBS. God has truly answered our prayers!
OUTREACH AND EVANGELISM IS PRIORITY
In the last several years we have educated our church members through Sunday School that VBS is for the unchurched. FBC understands that VBS is a church wide event! We LOVE our kids at FBC BUT we need to reach our community for Christ and VBS is one of our best opportunities! Our pastor leads out by promoting the purpose and priority of VBS from the pulpit. No staff member is allowed to take vacation during VBS and everyone participates in some way.
PROMOTION IS KEY
We advertise on secular radio stations and community calendars as well as send out flyers through the schools (we go through the process at the district school office). Our church members have flyers and are instructed that they are to promote in their neighborhood, places they go and where they work. We also give out yard signs for our members to put in their front yards and businesses.
CHILDCARE GROUPS ARE WELCOMED
We have two day care centers and two after school programs that attend each year.
FOLLOW-UP IS INTENTIONAL AND PLANNED
In advance of VBS gift bags were packed for delivery to all the unchurched families. Each bag included a VBS Bible, VBS CD, and information about our church.
PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL
Since VBS is church-wide event, bags were packed and prayed over by our Senior Adult Sunday School classes. Our oldest WMU group also folded all the VBS t-shirts and prayed over them.
VBS SHIRTS OPEN DOORS
VBS t-shirts were worn during VBS follow-up contacts. Unchurched families felt comfortable opening their doors to visitors because they recognized the shirt.
The Sunday following VBS a parenting class was offered for all the unchurch families or parents who do not attend Sunday School. While their parents attend the parenting class, children attend an age-appropriate Sunday School class where and see some of their VBS friends. In the past this class has been the start of a new Sunday School class. This year I am teaching the class for the first six weeks because many of the parents know my face, but I have a co-teacher ready to take the class at the end of 6 weeks.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What actions did you take this year to intentionally reach unchurched families through VBS?