1. The more people you have involved in making the event happen the more kids will come. One, because they bring their own kids and, two, people who are involved are more likely to invite. This why the best VBS programs are whole church events. Get everyone involved no matter how small the task. Even if the only thing a person does is cut shapes out of construction paper, they are much more likely to tell a friend than a person who only receives a flier in the church bulletin.
2. On any given Sunday probably only 1/3 of people who attend your church will be there. However, on Easter and Mother’s Day you will see closer to 3/4 of the people who attend your church show up. It’s also the reason why the Sunday after Easter or Mother’s Day is the most poorly attended service. Everyone who attends once a month came on Easter. VBS is kind of like this. People who are irregular in attendance are more likely to show up to VBS. (This also means that you may not see the fruit of VBS the week after it is over but over the few months after VBS) So if you have been able to get the word out to everyone who has ever come to your church that year, you should anticipate seeing about double your Sunday morning children’s attendance–maybe more depending on the next consideration.
3. If your church didn’t do a VBS last year, or it’s been a few years since you have done a VBS, you need to give yourself permission to have a “building” year. People like to be involved in things that are successful. If you haven’t done a VBS in a while, it’s an unknown for a lot of people. It may take the first year to reignite a strong interest in it, or for people to develop the trust to invite their friends. You may even see people inviting their friends after the first day of VBS after they have had a chance to taste the goods, so plan for better attendance each day. In fact, encourage people to invite their friends throughout the VBS week.
4. However many children show up–knock it out of the park. Still have the best small groups, the best crafts, the best skit, the best Bible time. God will honor your efforts to provide the best place to send kids to meet Jesus. And, you will lay a strong foundation for the next year. This is how we doubled from year to year.
5. I also think that God honors outreach efforts when we have created an effective weekly Sunday morning environment that people can go to after VBS. This probably deserves a whole post. Bottomline: Sunday morning should be as good or better than your VBS program. If it isn’t, maybe you should start with Sunday morning.