As a child, the sounds of bells and Christmas carols, the smells of pine and cookies, and the love of Christ in the air are all things I loved about the holidays. My top three memories of growing up at church were the Christmas service, the Easter service, and Vacation Bible School. Why were these events more impactful to me than any other church service or lesson? It could be that they were all held are during a school vacation, during which I had extra time to spend with family and friends. It could be that these are all times when families in the church come together to celebrate our Savior. Or it could be because all of these events are filled with stories and lessons of who Jesus is and what He did for us. So what does Christmas and the nativity have to do with Vacation Bible School? EVERYTHING! The lessons and stories that are taught during VBS, Easter, Advent, and Christmas will follow children throughout their lives.
So why is Christmas the perfect time to do outreach for your VBS? First, you probably have a larger-than-normal audience in your building during the Christmas season. Did you know that Christmas Eve is one of the top three most-attended church services of the year, especially by unchurched families (right up there with Easter and Mother’s Day)? With so many new faces, take advantage of the opportunity to introduce your VBS and children’s ministry to a captivated audience. Second, Christmas is the time of year for family, friends, and, of course, Jesus! Retelling the story of Jesus’ saving grace to parents and kids during Christmas is easy. Remind them that they can continue the learning and fun in the summer, and you’re sure to get a few more kids on board. Because Christmas is such an exciting time for kids, it’s an ideal time to use that excitement and direct it toward the true meaning of the holiday, the birth of Christ.
Now that you know why Christmas is a great time of year to promote VBS, here are some ways that you can reach and engage with your captivated audience:
- Offer a special kids’ program or children’s message for your Christmas service. During this time, incorporate and theme of your VBS and how it ties in to Jesus’ birth (everything does!). This can fuel the kids’ enthusiasm for learning more—in summer and throughout the year!
- Have materials available for families to take with them. This could be a simple brochure or postcard, or even a keepsake that is not only Christmas themed but also incorporates information on your VBS, Sunday School, etc.
- Make sure you have a way for guests to sign up to receive more information on your church and ministries. You could have an iPad or sheet of paper with your greeters for guests to sign in as they come or go. Or, like my church does, have cards in each Bible that guests can fill out and turn in during the offering to stay connected and receive more information.
- My favorite idea (I always love anything that is interactive—or involves food 😊). Invite families to a special family day. Since the hard part of getting families to your church is already done, try to get them to come back, preferably sooner rather than later, for fellowship and growing. This could be a luncheon, game day, or pizza night held at your church.
Vacation Bible School shouldn’t be something that you do once a year and forget. It can be and should be a yearlong celebration of Christ and what He did for you and me. With Christmas becoming more and more focused on gift giving and St. Nick, it’s a great time for us to spread the word to families, telling them about Jesus’ birth and that we should celebrate Him all year long.
Getting excited for VBS 2020? Us too!