Fun, Easy, and Economical Ways to Publicize your VBS
If you are like me, you have lots on your mind. As I look out my window in Mason, Ohio the snow is collecting on the ground, I’ve put away a few stray Christmas supplies, and I’m preparing the Lent supplies, yet still the thought of summer VBS always dances around in my mind. My church friends tease me, that I live in one of three liturgical seasons: Advent, Lent, or VBS. Most of us probably don’t yet have crystal clear plan of what form VBS will take this summer, but whatever your plan will be, now is a great time to begin to share the invitation to be a part of VBS - the best part of summer!
Here are some best practices as you communicate the good news of VBS.
PUBLICIZE EARLY AND OFTEN
In some marketing circles, the “Rule of 7” says that it takes an average of 7 impressions of a brand or message, before a person will respond. Aim to communicate your VBS message early and in a variety of ways, so people can receive your message at least 7 times. I begin VBS messaging in January for our June program. In all my communications, I include the basics: date and time, location, age of participants and helpers, cost (if any), the VBS theme, registration link, and a contact name.
USE A VARIETY OF COMMUNICATION METHODS
In our current society we have dozens of ways to communicate, yet there seems to be little consensus of which communication method is the most popular. But don’t be discouraged! As you publicize VBS, try to use as many forms of communication that are at your disposal. Who knows, maybe your VBS publicity will be the idea that goes viral!
Some of the ways that our church uses to spread the good news about VBS.
- Email anyone that may know a child. Current church members; past VBS participants (I go back about 5 years); families who have attended any of our other ministry events; groups who use our building and grounds – scouts, preschool, rentals, choirs, sport teams.
- Weekly/monthly church publications: church bulletins, newsletters.
- Church Website - or your Church App if you have one.
- Social Media – post on personal accounts, church pages, and private small group pages.
Encourage your followers to share VBS on their accounts and pages.
- Post Cards/flyers - send to past participants and encourage others to distribute them.
- Send publicity to your school systems for virtual on-line postings.
- In-house Bulletin Boards – go “old school”, some folks still look at bulletin boards.
- Ask to be included in any free community advertising or civic community calendars.
- Investigate local Family and Child Event publications, websites, or social media.
- Send information to your denomination’s wider circle of area churches.
- Make live announcements during the worship service, at small group gatherings, Sunday school, committee meetings, Bible studies, scout meetings, preschool dismissal. Any time a group meets, and is willing to share 5 minutes of meeting time, talk about VBS. I am not deterred by the age of any group hearing our VBS message – everyone has a young relative, neighbor, or friend. I visit so many groups, that when people see me, they think, “that’s the VBS lady”!
- Use Local Radio. Our local Christian radio station visits selected VBS programs as part of their “VBS Tour”. If your church is selected, the station provides advance radio publicity and arrives in person on one day of your VBS to play music at VBS arrival/dismissal time, and to distribute some of their publicity toys! It’s a win-win! Free publicity for you, and a radio station frisbee for your VBS kids!
MAKE YOUR MESSAGE FUN AND INVITING
- Include pictures as much as possible. Take care to be sensitive to your child-protection guidelines in posting pictures of children.
- Create excitement with teasers. What will the puppet look like this year? What is the theme this year? What will the best craft/snack/game be this year?
- Create a hashtag for your VBS #VBSfun #HPCvacationbibleschool #kidsofthekingdom
- Wear flippers! When I make an on-line or in-person announcement about VBS, I don’t hesitate to wear fun clothing, crazy hat and so forth to get the attention of the kids and their families. I try to make at least one appearance each year, as memorable as possible. I’ve been known to enter the Sanctuary on roller skates, color my hair pink, and wear a hazmat suit. Be bold and outrageous (at least once) as you share the fact that VBS is FUN!
PASS IT ON
Encourage those who hear and see your publicity to spread the word. The marketing world may call it PUBLICITY, but as followers of Jesus, we can call it EVANGELISM. Share the good news.
- Make sure your social media posts are in a format that can be “SHARED”. Invite those who see the post to SHARE it on their page.
- Make flyers accessible for people to pick up and send to their friends.
- Pre-stamp post cards and ask current members of your ministry to send out a handful to their friends.
- Each year, as an extension of the mission component of our VBS, we invite a daily guest from a local mission or ministry to join us at VBS. Our daily mission partner has the opportunity talk to the children face to face, and very often they are willing to post information about our VBS on their sites.
PERSONAL INVITATIONS AND GOOD “CUSTOMER SERVICE”
Our best publicity comes from a personal invitation, and from those who had a fabulous experience from a previous year. Make your VBS program so meaningful and fun, that families want to return year after year, plan their vacations around your VBS dates, AND they want to invite their friends.
- Ask everyone in your church to personally invite at least one person to VBS. Research shows that individuals are more likely to attend a church event if they are personally invited by a family member or friend.
- Encourage each VBS participant (children and leaders) to bring a friend. New participants will feel more at ease if they already know a friend at VBS.
- Provide good ‘customer service’ by following some basic courtesies from the everyday world. Always have someone prepared to answer VBS questions and provide further registration information within 24 hours of an inquiry. Be friendly, interested, and remember the names of people who inquire about your VBS.
- Invite ‘newbies’ to your VBS program to come in to see the facility and get a “lay of the land” before the VBS chaos begins. Imagine how comfortable a skeptical child could become if they already personally met the Pastor, shared some laughter with the VBS Director, or knew the VBS leaders by name!
- Cultivate a sense of family within your VBS. Invite VBS alumni to become leaders when they are old enough.
ALL GOD’S CHILDREN
As Christians we are called to love God and love our neighbor. As colleagues who love VBS, we can share that message in a variety of loving, creative, and life changing ways. How will you share your VBS message to all God’s children this summer?
Heritage Presbyterian Church
Children’s Ministry Director