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 Leigh Ann Stark, Childhood Ministry Specialist, Northwest Baptist Convention.
Reaching families in communities without churches on every corner means building relationships, defining events and creating a buzz that makes people want to be part of it.
Family to Family: Bring Friends
VBS was designed to attract not-yet-believers to engage in the Gospel. In a predominately unchurched area, the best thing we can do to reach not-yet-believing families for VBS is have our growing-in-Jesus kids bring their friends to VBS.
Share stories of the last VBS with those you are inviting to attend this year. The excitement of kids will motivate friends to participate.
Face to Face: Reach Neighbors
Be intentional in efforts to build relationships with neighbors. Opportunities to share the Gospel and invite friends to church events grow as relationships and trust are built with Christ followers.
Deliver informational fliers or door hangers to invite neighbors to VBS.
Host a neighborhood preview event with VBS games, music and snacks in your yard or neighborhood park. Inflated bounce houses and snow cones draw kids like bees to honey.
Go to them without expecting them to come to you. Neighborhood events, like Backyard Kids Club, create opportunities to reach families close to home and increase the influence of believers among their neighbors.
Path to Faith: Lead Families to Jesus
By God’s design parents are the primary influencers of their children. Reaching the whole family and equipping parents to be spiritual leaders at home will have the greatest impact on the spiritual walk of the child.
As leaders get to know each child at VBS, learn about their interests and their family. Consider needs that might be met or common interests that could provide an opportunity to build relationships with parents.
Hand to Heart: Connect with Community
Meeting needs in the community creates a positive reputation for a church. When crisis strike, the community will call on a church that has mowed school lawns, provided water bottles or a kids’ zone at a community celebration, given backpacks with school supplies to kids in need, etc.
School administrators who have strong relationships with church members are more open to promoting VBS. Offer to provide activities for kids who go to a free lunch program in the summer.
Title to Tag: Build a Brand
Kids Camp, Day Camp, Kids Klub, VBS are some of the titles given events designed to reach people for Christ through age appropriate high impact evangelistic events.
Don’t forget to #OurChurchVBS!
Concept to Reality: Create a Buzz
Creating the desire to go and do something new-to-them starts with a promise of fun and a clearly communicated plan. Do publicity and events well.
Quality promotional materials imply a high quality event. Clearly communicate your plan with dates, times, who and how to register along with a brief description and contact information.
Facebook is one way to share an event.
Show your enthusiasm, which comes naturally for children’s leaders. Your excitement about what God is going to do should show in every announcement, piece of publicity, invitation to serve, and “thank you” note.
Event to Event: Promote VBS and More
High impact events will establish an expectation for more, and motivate friends to come back for the next event.
Plan to continue relationships with families after VBS. Organize a new small group for parents or design an event for them, like a car show, parents’ night out or family picnic.
Use every event to promote upcoming events.
A refrigerator magnet listing each major event for the next quarter or year will help families know what to look forward to next.
Make Sundays great! Do worship and small groups for all ages well. Quickly welcome and acclimate families to your church. Partner families with regular attenders for worship and small groups.
Church to Church: Work Together
Intentionally partner with other churches and language congregations to share resources or provide one big VBS.
With multiple language congregations using the same facility, a bi-lingual VBS can be a big event that reaches more families and unifies the different congregations.
Share VBS stories. Here are some stories from Northwest Baptist Convention churches.
- One new believer, skeptical about VBS, served snacks and was amazed at the impact one week of VBS had on her three kids.
- For 10 of the 79 students, this was their first ever church experience; last year we had 15 attend.
- After an average attendance of 55, at our parent night there were well over 120 people.
- The one family who started coming after VBS week has continued to come on Sundays.
- We ended VBS with a carnival where the kids brought their parents to watch them perform, eat, and play games; while anticipating close to 200, we watched as God multiplied the bread and burgers as we accommodated 330!
- Of the 250 kids at VBS, over 100 took steps of faith toward Jesus publicly