For many of us, VBS 2023 is over. We’ve loved seeing volunteers serve, loads of kids on campus, and many new faces. But I have to ask you, is it actually over? What’s next?
Whether you held a VBS, summer camp, or another outreach-oriented event this summer, the program’s conclusion is not the end. Now, I know you are tired. Your team is exhausted and ready to rest. So why would I tell you that your work is not finished?
What you do after the program is as important, or even more than, the program itself.
You’ve had great encounters with new people, and you hope they walk away knowing the love of Jesus. Additionally, you probably also desire to see them again in your regular ministry gatherings. The work you do after the outreach event is what can help fulfill these hopes.
A few key ways you can do good work after VBS or other outreach events.
After the program: Consider personal encounters.
How a person feels when interacting with you can make a big difference in whether they want to spend more time with you.
My kids participated in a VBS this week. Teenagers led their groups. This setup is common; you may even use this setup. When groups are set up this way, those children spend significant time with teenagers. They get to know them and look forward to seeing them the next day.
If this describes your setting, consider asking the group leaders (or any volunteer) who have spent time with the children to send personalized cards. You could even include a photo of the group leader with the child.
Why do this?
The goal here is to cultivate the relationship built and remind the young person that someone at your church knows and cares for them.
Curt Thompson says, “We all are born into the world looking for someone looking for us.” The same is true about any human being that participates in your programs. So make an extra effort to help them feel seen on and off campus.
After the program, connect present experiences to the future.
You likely had a great time at your event. You may have had a song that was a big hit or a fun character on stage. Perhaps the young people went crazy over a game you played. These present experiences are excellent opportunities for the future.
So was there a particular activity, game, or character from your outreach that everyone loved? If so, communicate to those who attended your event that this beloved element will be at your next gathering. Connecting what they loved with what you will be doing next extends the present experience into the future.
A little side note, do not overuse that thing they loved. The saying, “leave them wanting more,” is true in this situation. If you play that unique game every week, it will quickly lose the uniqueness factor.
Communicate gratitude to volunteers, parents, and other staff members.
You did not accomplish the event on your own. The best work we do involves teams of people working together. I imagine you will want their help in the future. Take this opportunity to express gratitude and communicate how their work supported your church’s mission. Above all, help them see that they were part of something bigger than themselves.
You’ve done good work this summer. Let’s continue that work by doing post-event ministry well. Did I miss anything? What would you add to this conversation? Rooting for you!
Rev. Brian Lawson is the Director of Leadership Development and Client Services for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. He also serves as a pastor in the Florida Conference of the UMC. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.