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Blog » 7 Ways to Leverage VBS to Reach Parents

7 Ways to Leverage VBS to Reach Parents

Vacation Bible School has long been the best-kept secret in the church. For over 120 years, VBS has had few peers in its effectiveness for reaching children with the good news about Jesus. 

In a world where it doesn’t seem like many people agree on anything, 9 out of 10 adults have positive memories from participating in VBS during their childhood. Add in 65,000 professions of faith, and you’ll see just how important an evangelistic tool VBS has become.

However, the biggest secret is the impact VBS can have on parents. When you help children, their parents are often grateful. For parents all around the United States, VBS is transforming their opinion of the church and opening their hearts to how God might want to play a part in their family.

That’s why it’s so important for your church to lean into parental follow-up after VBS. These seven strategies can help your church leverage VBS to make it one of the best family outreach tools your church can use. 

Bring Your Parents to Church Sunday

You’re likely familiar with the “Bring Your Kid to Work Day.” This twist encourages the children who attend VBS to bring their parents to church on Sunday (the one directly following VBS). Plan a special service with a parenting-focused sermon. As part of the service, share the highlights of VBS with a slide show or video showing the kids in action. In your bulletin, pay special attention to children’s programming and activities for parents and families.

After the service, host a potluck meal and encourage long-time members of your church (particularly your leaders) to spend time talking with some of the new parents. 

Offer Parenting Workshops

Schedule a few workshops on parenting topics in the weeks (or months) following VBS. Topics such as discipline, preparing for the next school year, and faith-filled parenting will certainly be of interest to parents and provide you with another opportunity to get them into your building.

To find the perfect topics, send a survey to parents in your church to see what kind of training they’d like. If you don’t have requisite experts in your congregation on this topic, check at other local churches or community groups.

Try to have your schedule of workshops planned before VBS starts so you can give each child a flier to take home. At the very least, have your first workshop scheduled.   

Develop a Family Buddy System

Sometimes it’s helpful to have another family to walk beside new families in your church. Try to connect new families at VBS with an established family who has been around your church for a while. Encourage your veteran families to call the family before VBS to let them know what to expect. Then, ask them to call the new families after VBS to ask about the experience and invite them to church.

Personalize Your Follow-Up

Technology really helps when it comes to assimilating new families into the church, but it should never eliminate personalized follow-up. What does this look like after VBS? Here are a few possibilities.

  • Send a handwritten card. We get so few pieces of personalized mail these days they really stand out when they come. 
  • Make a phone call. Yes, this takes more time — and many people will let it go to voicemail. That’s okay! Leave a message. It shows you spent the time to make a personalized connection.
  • Personalized emails. While there’s definitely a place for mass emails in follow-up, a personalized email that specifically references a parent’s child with unique insight into the child can be a really significant touch in follow-up.

Sure, personalization takes time. But it’s worth it. 

Create a Post-VBS Family Event

Consider holding a Family Night on the Friday evening of VBS week. Almost like an open house at school, it gives parents a chance to visit the church and see what the kids have been doing all week. Parents can meet the kids’ teachers and church leaders during the week. Consider preparing a performance of some of the songs the kids have learned throughout the week.

To help connect parents to your church, have invitations for Sunday services at the event with a sneak peek at the sermon topic. 

Use Technology for Regular Engagement 

Technology helps you communicate consistently and intelligently with new guests. If you have a good church management system (such as Realm or Ministry Platform), you should be able to schedule regular follow-up emails and track your engagement over time. As mentioned earlier, this shouldn’t replace personalized communication. Instead, it should supplement it. 

Plan a Family Service Project

Even if your VBS visitors don’t regularly attend church, they likely value service. Seeing that your church values service, it will be helpful as you introduce these parents to your church. Pick a project the kids will enjoy because they’ll be instrumental in encouraging their parents to participate. Working side by side will give your congregants an opportunity to have meaningful conversations and invite them to additional church activities.

Make sure the project takes place soon after VBS (within a week or two) so you can build upon the relational momentum developed that week. 

VBS isn’t just a summer activity we do for our church families. It’s a powerful outreach opportunity to engage new families in the life of our church. When VBS engages whole families, you’ll multiply the impact of all of that hard work your congregants invest in it. 

As you try some of the activities above, remember you’re not just trying to grow your church; you’re trying to impact families with the good news of the gospel. That’s worthy of whatever effort your church invests in follow-up.

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