‘Show me’ state of mind
‘Show me’ state of mind

What is Vacation Bible School (VBS)? Fewer and fewer people have any idea.

That’s partly because fewer churches are offering VBS. And it’s partly because fewer people are attending church or, if they are attending, are taking advantage of faith formation offerings.

Whatever the cause and effect, it’s important to remember that “Vacation Bible School”—if left unexplained—is now insider language,the kind of language we have to avoid if our external and even internal communications efforts are going to be maximally effective.

But the challenges don’t end there. Some of you have heard me quote youth minister Christian Hansen from Old Donation Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach:

It’s hard to say, ‘Hey, come to youth group!” when you have nothing to back it up. When I can show people ‘look at how much fun we’re having and the wide variety of things we do,’ then progress happens.

Christian does a fantastic job showing current and potential members what the group is up to, using their Facebook page.

The same should go for VBS. Parents considering your program want to know what they’re signing their kids up for. Yesterday we saw a great example of an answer to that question, from a church that consistently shows instead of telling.

I dare you to watch St. Mary Magdalene’s new VBS video without wishing you had been there. Imagine what a benefit that will be when they’re recruiting folks for next year’s program.

We can no longer assume that people know what our faith formation offerings “look like.” We have to show them.

If you need some help, follow St. Mary Magdalene‘s and the Pit Stop Youth Group to learn from their great examples.

Kyle Matthew Oliver (@kmoliver) is the digital missioner and learning lab coordinator in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching.

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