Guest post by Reagan Lynn
Children are flocking to churches for fun-themed activities, music and food, centered around the message of Jesus Christ.
Children’s ministers often see more children during VBS than during any other week in the year. What a fantastic opportunity to make a lasting eternal impact! Hopefully, children will return to church again after enjoying a great experience, and bring their families with them. But ensuring this outcome can be overwhelming. How should a church follow up with parents? Which methods work best? Is there a church management system in place to easily assign and track follow ups with visiting families?
These are common questions for many children’s ministers. The good news: There are straightforward best practices to maximize your outreach efforts through VBS, and throughout the year.
1 – Know Your People
It may seem obvious, but keeping attendance records and recording new visitors is a necessity. It can be a large task during the business of activities, but it is crucial to keep full and accurate records.
Now, go a step further. Ask for parents’ contact information. When you do, ask them to list if they heard about VBS from a church member. Be sure that they list the name of that church member. This will be important.
2 – Don’t Wait
Send a mass email to the parents during the week, updating them on the activities that the children are enjoying. Mention a Bible passage that was taught, and talk about the great food and snacks that the children are raving about. Animal crackers, anyone? In these messages, invite families and their children to your regular weekly activities and any special events that will be held in the next year: Fall Festival, Christmas activities, Easter activities etc. Detail briefly the children’s ministry offerings, as well as church-wide and adult activities.
3 – Partner with Members
Before Vacation Bible School begins, ask your members to promote, promote, promote! Word of mouth is often the best way to attract new visitors. After the week is complete, use the information that parents provided to determine which church member or staff member should contact the parent.
If the child’s parent indicates that a church member invited them to VBS, contact the church member and ask them to reach out personally to the visiting family. This can be handled on a case-by-case basis depending on the situation, but remember that leveraging existing relationships is a powerful tool.
4 – Be Creative, and Always Follow Up
There are more ways than one to follow up with families. While mass emails can be effective for promotional goals, and phone calls from church members to visiting families where a relationship already exists can be impactful, there are creative options that can leverage your staff and volunteers’ talents!
Use crafts to create unique greeting cards themed around this year’s VBS theme. Send a small box with small inexpensive toys and Bible study books for children. Include colorful flyers for upcoming children’s ministry events. There is a sea of possibilities to help tap the talent of your church and the passion of its people to reach visitors for Christ.
Whichever methods and ideas you choose, be sure to implement them. Follow up and reach out. Families are searching for a church home, and the experience they have at Vacation Bible School can be the first step to a Sunday visit and a lasting eternal impact.
The time is here. We can do this! Bring on the animal crackers.
Reagan Lynn has a passion for helping churches increase ministry effectiveness, specifically through improving visitor follow up and enhancing member engagement. This drives his career, as he partners with churches to implement systems to accomplish exactly those goals. He resides in Tallahassee, FL and enjoys meaningful conversations, competitive tennis and people-watching at Whole Foods.