Vacation Bible School season is here, and you want to know what you can do to have your VBS visitors coming back for more!
I hear from children’s ministers all the time that VBS is their biggest outreach event of the year. Even if your church doesn’t hold a VBS, other summer events can bring a lot of visitors through your church doors. The thing is, how do you get them to come back after VBS is done and summer is over?
In a past issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine, according to Pastor Werner Rienas of Christian Life Center in Portland, Oregon, 60 percent of first-time guests to your church need nurture and follow-up if they’re to return. Making little changes here and there during your summer events can help you retain your visitors and keep them coming back for more. Here are some easy steps you can take before, during, and after your events to make your church more magnetic.
Start with sign-up―Here’s the place to offer your visitors a warm welcome. If you haven’t had a registration table at your events, I encourage you to start setting one up. Not only can you collect important medical information in case of an emergency, but this is also your chance to collect follow-up information. Here’s a tip: Since people today can be wary of giving out personal information, tell those who are signing up that their information is secure and won’t be given out. Explain that they will not be bombarded with junk mail, perhaps only a letter or two. This helps start building trust between the church and parents.
Keep them connected―A lot of churches utilize social media websites to promote their events. Be sure to keep it going during VBS. It’s been reported that 85 percent of moms visit Facebook daily. Upgrade your daily newsletter and make a Facebook page. Invite parents to visit the page and check out photos and stories of the day’s happenings. While they are there, make sure they have access to your church’s webpage and information in case they want to come back.
The fun’s just begun―Don’t let your kids and parents leave without an invitation to the next event you’re hosting, and include information about your regular church services. Giving them a “save-the-date” card is a simple way to show that you’re an active ministry, and by including your church’s basic information, you give them another chance to think about coming back as a regular.
Again, it’s all about nurturing and follow-up. Send friendly notes using the contact information you received. Keep parents updated on Facebook about upcoming events. Show them some love as soon as they step inside and right before they leave (and all in between, too). Finally, make sure your church is prepared for the regular Sunday service following your event. Have everything spruced up and looking good, with signs up to help guide new visitors, and greeters ready to hand out the handshakes. It can be intimidating for families to come to your church for the first time. Be warm, friendly, and show God’s love and you may just find yourself with some new members!