A VBS Gift
By Stephanie Caro
Like a speeding train you couldn’t stop if you wanted to, it’s almost here! The moment many churches wait all year for: Vacation Bible School! Funny title, right? There’s nothing “vacation” about it, at least not for all the dedicated leaders who pull it off every year. There’s “tired” and then there’s “VBS tired.” But every moment is SO worth it. When the sounds of children echo the halls in real time, there’s no better joyful noise. Between the children we see every week and those we see only once a year, whenever God’s name (Love) is demonstrated – it’s worth every single body ache and ounce of fatigue.
From my years of consulting with churches, I’ve found there’s not much to improve upon during the actual week itself. You’ve got this! But where I’ve seen some churches miss the mark is in the follow-up after the big week is over. So, I’ve created a game plan you can use for maximizing the outreach long after the markers have been capped and the glue has dried. Enjoy!
VBS Visitor Follow-up Game Plan
- All Children’s Ministry Teachers/Key Department Leaders/Staff are on board with the first timer process and have signed off.
Calendar Space Needed:
- 15 minutes at one VBS teacher training and/or email with response required. Goal is to ensure that all adults are oriented to the process.
- May Meetings: VBS team, Sunday school team, CM Leader Team. To set up plans for follow-up before VBS.
- August Meetings: Same as above with the purpose of evaluation and planning follow-up event.
- Plan a “Back-to-school,” “Fall Kick-Off” or “VBS Reunion" event where all kids from VBS come back for a fun, energetic 2-hour program. The program elements will include a video/slide show from VBS, a look at the fall CM ministry, a craft, game time, snack, songs from VBS, etc.
- A database of visitors updated and distributed to all key adults and staff following the VBS week.
- Sunday School database.
- Church Members/Family database.
Children’s Ministry Staff Responsibilities:
- Ensure that all VBS Leaders are prepared to give special attention and provide an intentional welcoming climate for all visitors, particularly first timers. They are especially on the lookout for the parents of first timers/visitors.
- Ensure that online registration forms indicate “first time family” or “visiting family.”
- Create a First Timer Card that will effectively collect information about that child/family and is emailed upon registration of a first-timer.
- Ensure that First Timer/Visitors Cards are available for all Sunday school teachers, children’s ministry volunteers, and any other weekly school year CM program leaders.
- Ensure that all first-time visitors’ parents complete a first timer card.
- Ensure that, in each weekly ministry program and every special event, that at least one volunteer is responsible for distributing and collecting first timer cards.
- Be sure that all first timer cards make their way back to the age-level director who will follow up.
- Within three days of an event where a first timer has attended, generate a letter to be sent to all first-time visitor families & mail before the end of the week.
- Work with the Children’s Ministry data management person to ensure that first timer contact info is put into the system.
- Work with the Children’s Ministry data management person to re-categorize all names on the visitor directory when needed as they either fall away or attend regularly (based on attendance information).
- Work with volunteers and staff on an ongoing basis to create an increasingly welcoming environment for each program of the children’s ministry.
- Transfer all completed first timer cards within 24 hours to correct age-level director.
- Make a call or send an email to all occasional and regular visitors each month.
Children’s Ministry Administrative or Data Management Staff Responsibilities
- Update the database monthly, placing each person on the database in one of the following categories:
- Visited only once
- Occasional Visitor (Visited six or less visits in the previous three months)
- Regular Visitor (has attended at least seven times in the previous three months)
- Each month, give the staff a list of all occasional and regular visitors (for follow up contact).
- Maintain attendance records for all weekly children’s ministry events.
- Add “regular visitors” to the ministry mailing list, to receive the same ministry mailings that all children’s families receive.
- Keep a hard copy back up of all completed first timer cards.
- Ensure that the entire visitor database receives invitations to “bring a friend” community events.
- Personalize and mail a letter for all first-time visitors within one week of their first visit.
- Create first timer card
- Determine what software the children’s ministry will use for its visitor database
- Draft welcome letter
Schedule volunteer leader training in which volunteers will be trained in their responsibilities in the first timer process.