We recently got asked a question that many of you probably ask yourselves every summer, and if you aren’t, then maybe you should.
“How do we get families who don’t go to Church to come to our VBS?”
It’s not an easy question. Taking the first initial step of inviting people to parish activities and events can be overwhelming. Hopefully these tips can give you a little more confidence about what to do when the time comes, and why it’s important. These tips are by no means limited to VBS, and they can be applied when inviting people to any event.
Start with Relationship
The first step should always be to build a relationship. If you can’t make an effort to get to know the families in your community, then why should they be interested in something you have to offer? You’d be surprised at how a few ordinary conversations can go a long way to building trust and friendship. Your invitation will mean so much more if you’ve taken the time to get to know the family first.
Actually invite them
An invitation is a beautifully simple thing. It requires nothing more then a few words and a friendly smile. Thankfully there’s nothing too intimidating about VBS. Parents are usually open to their kids spending a few hours in the summer playing games and singing songs. Just because they aren’t regular Churchgoers, it doesn’t mean they don’t want their kids to know anything about the faith. Let them know they’re welcome, and don’t be afraid to extend the invitation to those from another faith background.
Make it Personal
I know this may seem obvious, but it’s important that you make the invitation in person, or at least over the phone. Facebook events and text messages are all convenient means of communication, but they’ll never replace a real face-to-face conversation. People are much more likely to respond positively to your invitation when they recognize that you’re making a sincere effort to actually talk to them. And don’t be afraid to share some of your own experiences. Funny or inspiring stories are a great way to introduce a topic, and it’ll give them something to remember.
Get Them Involved
Everyone loves to feel important. Although a lot of parents are busy with work, there are some who would love the opportunity to share their gifts and talents. Do they enjoy taking pictures? Tell them you’ve been looking for a VBS photographer. Are they crafty? Ask them if they’d like to help out at the craft station. Having a purpose makes people feel like part of a team, and it also gives them the chance to see firsthand what’s going on at VBS.
Know Your Mission
Although it may surprise you, the reason you’re doing all this isn’t to get kids to VBS; it’s actually just part of our mission. Our primary mission as Church is to evangelize. Evangelization means reaching out to those around us, and showing them what it means to follow Jesus. Pope Francis says in his encyclical The Joy of the Gospel: “I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.”
Here you thought you were just getting a couple of kids to come to your parish VBS, and you find out you’re participating in the mission of the universal Church.
So now the question might be… How can you not invite families who don’t go to Church to come to your VBS? Not only would it be a fun for them, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity for you to share your faith. You never know all the amazing things God could do with that one small invitation.
Now I'm sure many of you have invited people to your VBS before. What are some things that worked for you? Are there any other tips that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!