So, when another year of VBS is finished; volunteers have gone home, your decorating team puts away all props, posters and parts of VBS returning your church to “normal” what do you do next? What do you need to do to build on the work accomplished in VBS and how can you continue to minister to non-church families VBS allowed you to touch? Too often we do not really follow-up with the contacts VBS gave us with non-church families . . . what can we do to show these families we want to serve them, not just their children, all year long?
Effective follow-up can be designed and accomplished without a large budget and without a large staff of volunteers if you focus on praying, evaluating and planning!
Prayer is vital for effective follow-up. While your church as a whole certainly can and should be praying for new non-church families VBS allowed you to reach, turn to those in your church who are prayer warriors and ask them to be part of your follow-up team!
1. Provide names of children as well as parents/sibilings
2. If possible, provide one prayer warrior for each child/family
3. Stay in touch with your prayer warriors and update them as children/families are followed-up
Evaluating involves looking at your VBS to identify your strengths and determine follow-up goals. Take time to seriously consider the following evaluation questions so you know where you stand and are best able to determine steps to move forward!
- In the coming week evaluate volunteer surveys and critique your VBS while everything is fresh.
- What were your “successes”?
- Were you able to focus on your goal/purpose and did you accomplish it?
- What do you want to repeat/do the same way next year?
- What didn’t work the way you wanted it to?
- What might you do differently next year?
- What opportunities do you now have to build relationships with new families in your community?
- Identify all “first-time” contacts. Who were these children? What do you know about the children and their families? Did someone in your church invite this new child to your VBS? Did this child attend on his or her own? Who in your church knows this new family? What families in your church live near and/or have a similar family make up?
What do you want to accomplish with follow-up? Certainly part of your follow-up should be focused on thanking those who served in your VBS, but from there, what are your goals for follow-up with non-church families? Do you want to focus on building the relationship between your VBS volunteer and the child(ren) or would you also like to try and reach out to the parent(s) as well? Consider the following planning questions as you move forward with follow-up!
- Plan an opportunity to thank your volunteers.
a. Mail – and perhaps email as well – thank you notes to everyone who had a part in your VBS ministry – be sure to include your prayer team.
- Talk with your pastor about allowing time in the church service to have all volunteers stand and publicly thank them.
- Plan an after church picnic and praise time – encourage children to tell what they learned and how they have been able to live it in their lives and encourage volunteers to share what they enjoyed the most about serving. Sing VBS songs!
2.Plan opportunities to stay in touch with non-church children after VBS.
- Mail postcards from small group leaders to children in their small groups. On the last day of VBS give each small group leader postcards and ask them to take a moment before they go home to write a short note to each child thanking them for being in their group and to invite them to attend fall children’s ministry opportunities at your church. After writing their messages they may give their cards to the church secretary for them to be mailed two weeks after VBS.
- Update church mailing list with all addresses of children who attended VBS. Be sure these families receive mailings about opportunities for children, parents and families throughout the summer and into the fall.
- Plan an end of summer/back to school event and invite all VBS children and their families to attend.
- Develop a plan to reach out to parents and siblings of non-church children who attended your VBS.
- Try to match church families with non-church families – if a family is invited to an event by another family they are more likely to attend.
- Work with your CE leaders to develop opportunities for adults so church parents can invite non-church parents – both classes and social events.
- Forward family contact info to your youth ministry for any older siblings of children who attended your VBS.
Effective follow-up involves praying, evaluating and planning and persistence! Don’t give up if a family is hesitant to respond, but be sure to balance your persistence with respect so you don’t seem pushy. Present your church as a group of people who truly care about families and your church as the place in the community where families can turn for fellowship and fun!
Action Points –
- Determine your follow-up team.
- Identify and secure prayer warriors.
- Evaluate VBS and follow-up goals.
- Plan your follow-up