VBS and similar events open doors for unchurched kids to connect with the church, and if we are intentional about doing so, they will also open doors to connect with their parents.
Each January Lifeway conducts VBS Previews in North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee. The following tips for reaching families through VBS were generated by guests at the 2016 events. Also, be sure to check out the tips in the post Reaching Families Through VBS Part 1.
Meet a need
- Focus on meeting a need of parents. Ask yourself: As a busy parent, what would be helpful for me?
- Consider options, such as providing a meal for families, or a parenting talk or resource you can make available to parents.
- Think of ways to “advertise” different kids activities as ways to meet needs of parents. Consider the following possibilities of things your church is already doing or might consider doing.
- Do you provide a music arts camp?
- Do you provide ministry activities for kids at the same time adult Bible studies are offered?
- Do you offer a parents’ night out? How do you inform parents of upcoming dates?
- Do you have a fun, interactive program for kids on Sunday or Wednesday nights? Explain that!
- Do you offer a class for kids to learn and apply manners, formerly known as “etiquette classes” or any other kind of “how to” type class? Generate interest in that.
- Do you offer sports programs such as basketball, soccer, or baseball for kids? Make parents aware of the opportunity.
- Does your church have sport leagues, such as softball, bowling, volleyball, or other sports for parents? This is a great place for parents to dust off their cleats and put their high school or college skills back to work.
- You don’t have to come up with “new” things to do to bring people in. Take a look at what is already happening at church and focus more on making parents aware of opportunities available. Never assume parents know what you are doing just because there is a sign out front or you’ve been doing the program for years!
Make opportunities to attend easy and accessible
- Provide parking lot greeters as well as easy to follow signs that tell parents where to park and enter the building.
- Post greeters throughout the building. These greeters can be people of all ages who are willing to help. Families need to see see people of all ages participate in church activities.
- Explain any terminology your church may use. If the kids area is named something specific (Kid Zone) be sure the sign includes ages as well. If you have classes in “the old sanctuary,” have signs that say “the old sanctuary” and use greeters to help families find the area.
- Make sure greeters are knowledgeable about all classes available for families. Consider having a “cheat sheet” or a quick review with greeters of what classes are offered and where.
- Consider ways to simplify registration for large families. The longer the check in process takes, the more stress it potentially creates for the entire family. They may already be nervous about being in a new place and do not need added anxiety caused by long lines.
- Keep staff members visible along with VBS workers kids may recognize. Having familiar faces will put kids at ease as they are in a new setting that is different from VBS.
Connect a child
- Ask kids to volunteer to be a connector for kids who attended VBS but do not attend church.
- Kid connectors can be asked to write postcards to kids who came to VBS and don’t attend church, or they can be included in follow-up home visits with adults.
- Kid connectors serve as a way to help visitors feel welcome in classes and at activities. These kids would plan to sit by the guest, learn more about him or her, and explain what to expect during different activities offered at church.
- Kid connectors may be a branch of a current outreach strategy you already use at your church.
- Kids reaching out to other kids will have an impact. Kids may be matched up by ages, similar school situations, or other common factors.
Make plans now to attend Lifeway’s VBS Preview in January 2017 in North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee. Registration opens Monday, June 6 and will be announced at lifeway.com/vbs.