Why should kids come to your VBS? What would make a completely unchurched, lost child want to come to your church? What will inspire your kids to want to invite their friends? I’m amazed at how many churches spend so much time, money and energy planning VBS but only promote it inside the walls of their church. The result: Church kids and the grandkids of church members attend and a world of opportunities are lost.
For a moment, consider the kids who normally come to your VBS. Why do they come? How do they hear about VBS? How many kids from unchurched or lost families attend?
(Honestly, these are the same questions we should be asking about Sunday School every week but most ministries never do.)
For a moment, let’s consider a lost child. We will call him “Lost Lenny”:
Lost Lenny never goes to church. So how was he going to hear about your VBS? If you just announce your Bible School to the church, then don’t be surprised if they’re the only ones who come. But what about Lost Lenny? What in your VBS planning is going to help him hear about what you are doing?
- Perhaps he’ll hear about it because you’ve planned some pre-VBS outreach events in the community for the purpose of sharing the Gospel and for promoting your VBS.
- Perhaps he will hear about it after you put posters and flyers around town.
- Perhaps a friend, who attends your church, will invite him and give him an information flier with all the details on it.
- Maybe you have planned for church members to have yard signs to announce the date and time of your VBS.
- Perhaps he will get a postcard in the mail or maybe his parents will get an email about VBS from your church.
- Could his family read about it in the newspaper?These are just a few suggestions…So, what is your plan to get this kind of information into the hands of the people who need it?
Now let’s move to our main question: Once Lost Lenny hears about VBS, why would he want to come? What about your VBS makes kids want to keep coming back and not miss a single day?
Look for special features to draw children back. These don’t have to be expensive but they do need to be fun and engaging. But just because something is fun and engaging doesn’t mean that it is not spiritual. Every special feature should not only be a “hook” to make kids want to come, but also be an incredible teaching tool.
For example, in one of our recent Vacation Bible Schools, we set up a swimming pool inside the worship center that was 3 feet deep and about 15 feet wide. There was no water in it, but, instead, we put air mattresses at the bottom, beach balls on top of that, and then over 3000 balloons. We put prices in the bottom of the pool and built a plank extending from our stage. Every day, the boy and the girl who brought the most friends, had the privilege of “walking the plank. ” This was a lot of fun and a great tool for encouraging kids, even lost kids, to bring their friends. You could also randomly draw names so that the more a child attends, the more likely the chance is that his or her name will be drawn to walk the plank.
From giveaways to putting kids inside a human-sized bubble, to a grown man getting inside a 6-foot balloon to fun and inflatable games, there are a multitude of ways to encourage and inspire kids to come to VBS and to bring their friends. The key is not to just continue repeating the same things that you have done year after year. Variety is the spice of life and using random, fun and engaging tools can have a powerful impact on your VBS. These tools also become very memorable teaching tools.
Finally, don’t do anything just to have fun – find a way for the activity to communicate God’s truth. For example, if you are doing a giveaway, use it every day to talk about God’s free “gift “of salvation. When we used the swimming pool and kids were searching through thousands of balloons to find a prize, we talked about how people are searching for more in life and Jesus is the answer. We also tied in a parable every day – The parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son from Luke 15 and the parables of the treasure found in the field and the pearl of great price from Matthew 12.
In conclusion, take some time to step into the shoes of a lost child – what would make you want to come to VBS? Then have fun and use these tools to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your kids.
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