Whoa! You mean we need to start planning for follow up before we get serious about planning VBS? Exactly! VBS follow up is in crisis. In fact, that is why the LifeWay VBS team has replaced the term with Continuing the Connection or Continued Connections, and it is why we say planning for continuing the connections should begin even before planning for the week of VBS.
By planning continued connections now we change the focus from VBS being the main event to follow up being the main event. We conduct VBS to discover and build relationships with unchurched families. The week of VBS is just a platform or opportunity for the real purpose of VBS – evangelism and continued connections.
Follow up has several major challenges. We know this because 97% of VBS leaders surveyed several years ago agreed the biggest challenge of VBS is what to do with the unchurched families discovered during the week.
The first challenge of follow up is most of us do not even begin to think about it until after the week of VBS. By then it is too late.
The second challenge is that the term follow up is typically used when referring to an appointment with the doctor. Who wants to make a return trip to hear about test results that might not be good news?
The third challenge is that many churches send everyone attending VBS a postcard saying, “thanks for coming” and check follow up off the list as having been completed.
Continued connections means way more than a single postcard, letter, or phone call. Continued connections says we plan to stay in contact and do everything possible to connect unchurched families to the ministries of the church and keep them connected.
Planning now for continued connections will impact the way you promote your VBS, the way you register guests, the way you relate to parents throughout the week, and the way you design your VBS Family Celebration. AND, by planning now, continuing connections with unchurched families discovered during VBS becomes the purpose of everything you do during the week of VBS instead of the after thought.
If you have not already done so, enlist someone to work along side the VBS director as the continued connections director. Doing so will elevate the importance of continued connections as well as ensuring plans are being made, people are being trained, and activities are being scheduled to connect people with both the gospel and the church.
The second step in planning for continued connections is to meet now (or as soon as possible) with Sunday School leaders, adult and student ministry leaders, and ongoing evangelism and outreach teams. Share the vision for the need to continue connections following VBS and encourage them to begin planning now for ways they can immediately connect teens and parents with their ministries and the church following VBS.
To successfully connect parents with the church you must strike while the iron is hot (whatever that means) and begin the connections during the week of VBS. Waiting a week, two weeks, or more after VBS is a lost opportunity that might be impossible to recapture.
Next week’s Monday Morning Checklist – Time to Order VBS Starter Kits.