Summer is a ways out, but it’s never too early to start planning for this year’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) or summer children’s program! A lot goes into hosting a week full of activities and children. You will want to have everything in place well in advance. It’s especially critical as you walk through the VBS planning stages to recruit and equip quality volunteers.
With so much going on before and during the week of your summer kids’ Bible program, it’s critical to have a dedicated team of volunteers to help run the show. But where will you find all these volunteers? We’ll help you with 10 VBS volunteer recruiting and training tips.
Your church may already have some children’s volunteers in place. However, not all of them will be able to commit to helping with VBS. That’s why it’s important to get the word out early so you can recruit as many team members as possible. This team should include people who love Jesus, have great attitudes, are teachable, and most of all, LOVE KIDS!
Share the Vision
Get the word out to your congregation. Share the vision behind why you’re hosting a summer Bible week for kids. During announcements, include not only the dates or that you need volunteers, but add the passion behind the why. When people understand how impactful VBS is to children (and entire families!), they may be more inclined to get involved.
Contact Current Volunteers
Use your church management software (ChMS) to contact existing and former volunteers. You’ll be able to run a report of current volunteers and then connect with them via phone, text, or email. Even though they’re already serving in some capacity, volunteers are often the ones who are willing to go above and beyond. It doesn’t hurt to ask! And since it is during the week, you may get volunteers who aren’t able to serve on the weekends but desire to get involved somehow.
Send Mass Communication
Another great thing about a comprehensive ChMS is that you can send mass communications. Include information in the church newsletter about your summer adventure and the opportunities to volunteer. Send a specific email with volunteer registration. Getting the word out to the entire congregation can help enlist people who have been attending and looking for a place to get involved.
Host an Informational Meeting
Some people want to know how large of a commitment they’ll have to fill. If you host an informational meeting, it can let prospective churchgoers understand that there is a wide array of opportunities for VBS. They could be a part of the planning committee or serve during the actual week, or both! Maybe they can only be there at the very beginning of the mornings; they could run daily check-in and then leave. The point is, having a meeting that shares the general overview and commitment can be helpful to gain more volunteers.
Along with enlisting enough volunteers, you want to have the right volunteers. Background checks help to weed out potential threats and provide a form of accountability. Before you allow any volunteers to be present with the kiddos for a week, you’ll want to have background screenings completed and all volunteers updated with training and safety information.
In order to have a successful Vacation Bible School or summer kids’ program, volunteers will need to be equipped in their specific role(s). This is another reason why you’ll want to do the recruiting early, that way you can ensure that volunteers have enough time to attend training meetings, read through policies and procedures, and feel ready ahead of time.
Assign Leadership Roles
Aside from the general volunteers, it’s wise to assign leadership roles—including grade-level leaders, teachers, registration, marketing, and overseers for crafts, activities, games, skits, and snacks. A good leadership team will help shoulder the weight of the day camp by overseeing key areas. This will help reduce the burden of only one or two people having to do all the work.
Conduct a Kick-Off Meeting
This is the time to motivate the troops! Here is where you want to define VBS and lay out goals, review the event outline, share the dates, and discuss the exciting things planned for this year’s program. Take the time to pray as a group and answer any initial questions people might have. Consider ending the time with food, fellowship, and a little fun!
Send a Training Packet
This is your “summer program week in review” guide for volunteers and should be part of an orientation manual. Along with the dates and times, you’ll want to include important preparation items for your volunteers to review prior to training. Such items will include the overall theme, lesson summaries, and relevant Scriptures. Include things like safety procedures, discipline procedures, and rules (like dress code, picture taking, bathroom policies, etc.) Impress on each volunteer the importance of preparing for the event in prayer and reading the Bible.
Host a Training
Provide training for both the leadership team and the volunteers. Have a general session with everybody to briefly discuss important things like safety, discipline, and rules. Then dismiss groups to attend their role-specific training. For example, the people helping with teaching the whole group or small groups would learn about how to do this effectively. Those involved with check-in could learn the system. (FellowshipOne has easy child check-in!). Volunteers who are helping with media can get acquainted with any technical programs you’ll be using.
Schedule a Dress Rehearsal
Physically walk the volunteers through the different stations for the week. Do a general walkthrough with all the volunteers so they can see how everything is going to work. Review check-in, crafts, lessons, drama presentations, games, videos, snacks, whole-group rallies, etc. After this review, allow volunteers to go to their specific stations with their team lead to ask any last-minute questions and receive more specific instruction related to their role. This walkthrough should give every team member a very clear picture of their duties during the VBS week.
Need Help Getting Started with VBS Volunteers?
Whether you’re a seasoned VBS leader or you’re just starting out, FellowshipOne ChMS can help you get the right volunteers in place. Our church member database can help you find current and potential volunteers and provide easy communication to keep everybody in the loop. Contact us today to find out more.