Bible School season is here, and what an exciting time it is! 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
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. OnlineSchools.com recently 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!