Post-VBS Follow Up Is Essential
NASHVILLE, Tenn., 3/2/2011 — Year after year, churches indicate their greatest need for Vacation Bible School is help with the follow-up.
"What takes place after VBS is just as important as anything that happens during the week," said Mike Smith of the leadership and evangelism area of LifeWay Christian Resources. "You have opportunities after VBS that didn't even exist before."
Smith led a session on "VBS and Beyond: Evangelistic Follow-Up," during the 2011 VBS Preview held Jan. 27-28 at LifeWay Christian Resources' home office in Nashville, Tenn. A second preview was held Jan. 28-29. More than 1,500 people attended.
Smith said the first step to successful evangelical follow-up is to have a VBS follow-up director.
"This person is just as important as the VBS director," Smith said. "The follow-up director makes certain every child is remembered after the week. This is especially important for children who are not already a part of the church family. The weeks soon after VBS may be the only time a church member is welcome in the home of an unchurched family. It can be a time of introducing what the church has to offer to the entire family."
Smith highlighted some notable statistics from LifeWay's 2009's Vacation Bible School (the most recent statistics available).
"These numbers are just from the churches that actually reported their information to their state conventions and to LifeWay," he said. "We know there are many that don't send in a report."
- Number of churches reporting: 24,427
- VBS enrollment: 2,840,380
- Professions of faith: 88,410
- Sunday school/Bible study prospects discovered: 264,716
- Prospects enrolled in Sunday school/Bible study: 49,541
- Prospects added to the prospect file: 206,392
He also listed a number of follow-up strategies and ideas for churches and explained how they can help.
- Have a fun and evangelistic family night. "This may be the only time some of the unchurched parents will ever step foot in the church."
- Follow up with the Children's Music Series. "The children always love the music at VBS and the CMS is a great way to keep them excited about music."
- Use the aids in the VBS Administrative Guide. "This gives resources, PowerPoints, training ideas and follow-up plans."
- Gather accurate/sufficient information on every VBS participant. "Get as much as possible, and be honest why you need it. Tell them you plan to follow up."
- Determine ahead of time what will be your plan for follow-up. "Establish your strategy before VBS ever begins."
- Immediately after VBS, activate your follow-up teams. "People will never be more open than they are right then."
- Send information about the church directly to the homes. "You really can't trust the kids to make it home with the information."
- Connect everyone in the family with the appropriate Sunday school class. "If they get connected with a small group like Sunday school, statistics tell us there is an 83 percent chance they will still be connected after five years, but only a 16 percent chance if they aren't."
Celebrate the results of VBS during a Sunday morning worship service. "Have the whole service be about VBS. Do the music, have testimonies, and have a VBS-themed sermon."
Smith also suggested the resources Leading a Child to Christ and More to Life to help churches evangelistically reach out to new families.