I believe that VBS can still be a valuable tool for reaching new families. Vacation Bible School is still the largest kids ministry outreach in many churches. It all starts with getting the word out. Here are a few easy things we have tried to communicate with our community about VBS or other big events.
1. Postcard Invites – We mail very few mass mailings. Sometimes they can be effective, but what do you do with unsolicited mail? In our house we usually throw it away. What we do instead is print lots of postcard invitations and give them to our kids in stacks. We ask them to take the invites to their classmates, ball teams, and neighborhood friends. We also ask restaurants that are close to the church (and usually those that we have bought lots of food from) to place the cards near their registers for customers to pick up. You can print your own, or use a cheap online service such as Vistaprint or PrintPlace.
2. Yard Signs - This year we were able to get yard signs printed for about $8 each from a local printer. We then handed them out to church members who lived on high traffic streets. We printed our church name, the website address, and “VBS Next Week”. We didn’t put dates or more specific info so that we could reuse them next year as well!
3. Doorhangers -We print doorhangers with all of the details of our VBS. For several years we organized a huge Sunday morning event where we took all of the children who came to Sunday School and took a “field trip” to a neighborhood that was close to the church. The kids and leaders hung the doorhangers and had a blast. We have also organized neighborhood parties where church members in certain neighborhoods met together and distributed the doorhangers. This year we gave stacks to our families and asked them to arrange the distribution.
4. Word of Mouth – By far the most effective (and cheapest) form of advertising is word of mouth. Get your kids and families excited about the week and help them catch the vision of why their friends need to come to VBS. The more excitement you can build, the more friends they will invite. Challenge them. One word of warning, make sure your product matches your hype. Kids won’t bring friends next time if your event is not fun or meaningful. Equip and motivate your congregation, especially your kids, to be your living billboards.
We would love to hear your ideas about promoting Vacation Bible School, just leave us a comment to start the conversation. Here are a few links with more tips on advertising your VBS ~ here ~ here ~ here.