Each year, during the summer months, churches around the country hold Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs. VBS is a great way to connect with families in the community and teach kids about God’s Word. However, VBS is also an opportunity for churches to connect with unchurched families in the community. If you are a pastor or administrator for a church that is planning on holding a VBS program this year, here are three tips to help you connect with parents during VBS.
1) Get to know the parents:
One way to connect with parents during VBS is to get to know them. This can be done by greeting them when they drop off their kids each day, having a conversation with them while they are waiting for pick up, or sending a follow-up email after each VBS session.
One fun idea is to offer a Parent’s Brunch on Wednesday or Thursday morning during VBS. Set up a room close to the drop off location and offer coffee, juice, pastries, fruit etc… Invite your staff and key volunteers to come mingle and sit with parents. Have flyers and invitations available for other ministries and upcoming events.
2) Include parents in the fun:
Many VBS programs are designed so that kids have all the fun. But with a little ingenuity you can include the parents in the week’s activities and help them feel more comfortable at your church. Here are a couple ideas:
- Ask for volunteers – If you have parents who are available during the day, ask them to help with crafts, lead a small group, or be a part of the skit team.
- Evening craft or activity – Include “homework” as part of your VBS week. Pick one activity for the week that the family can do together. Make it something simple like a photo scavenger hunt, easy craft project or just reading a Bible story together.
- Parent Night Event – Give family members a chance to come in, meet the volunteers and teachers and see what types of crafts and activities their kids are working on. Have simple refreshments and let kids perform a song together.
- Sunday Morning Presentation -Helping your VBS families transition from camp to church by having a VBS event scheduled in conjunction with the following weekend services. Throughout the week, hand out invitations for the parents to come to the weekend service, where they will be able to see their kids perform the songs they learned this past week on stage. Then, throw an ice cream party after church to give them a chance to hang out with other families. Include information about upcoming family events in your bulletin and post banners or sandwich boards promoting your upcoming weekend sermon series.
3) Plan a reunion event:
Vacation Bible School fun doesn’t have to end when the week does – plan a couple fun “reunion” events and invite families to return so that kids and parents can get together again. These events can include other families too – the goal is to connect parents and kids to your church and help them see the benefit of being involved regularly.
- Movie Night – Within a week of your VBS, schedule a family movie night to give them a reason to come back. This can be done in your parking lot as a drive-in movie night or inside as a pajama movie night. Email or text your VBS families once or twice between VBS and the movie night to invite them. And, as always, make sure to provide invite cards for volunteers to invite these guests to church.
- Family Picnic – This outdoor event can be scheduled anytime during the summer or fall. Provide burgers, hot dogs, lawn games, crafts, and other fun activities. Supply staff and volunteers with T-shirts and invitations, and, as always encourage them to make connections and invite guests back to church
- Fall Harvest Festivals – As September gets closer, invite all your VBS families to join your church for fun fall events like Back to School nights, Harvest Festivals, and Trunk or Treat. If they have had an amazing time at your church already, they are already open to coming back to your church for other significant events. As you put together your church calendar, plan to send email blasts specifically to these families!
- Community Serve Events – Invite families in your church and around the community to help clean up a park, work on projects at a local school, or do minor repairs for seniors or injured veterans. Service projects are a great way for unchurched parents to get to know your church members and to see that your church is active beyond the church building walls.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that parents feel connected to your VBS program and your church. By building these relationships with families, you will be more likely to see them back at your church throughout the year. So, don’t forget to reach out and connect