Be Sure to Train Your Volunteers for Vacation Bible School!
I absolutely understand how difficult it is to get volunteers to attend teacher training . . . we are all so busy! But, when it comes to presenting the best, most effective VBS it is essential your volunteers are trained; so schedule your training now and be sure to communicate to your volunteers the training is an absolutely essential, not-to-be-missed event! Consider the following . . .
The first step to planning your VBS training, is to select the date two weeks before your VBS for your training. I've found selecting two dates is the best way for me to be sure all my volunteers are trained . . . try selecting an evening - Tuesday usually works well - and a Saturday morning. Tell your volunteers training is mandatory, but they may choose which training fits best with their schedule. Providing two training times communicates to your volunteers just how important the training is, but also communicates you understand and care about their schedule as well.
Once you've chosen your training dates, get out your director's manual once again and look for the training session - most director's manuals have a well thought out and complete training all laid out for you to use! Be sure the training time includes an opportunity for you to share with your volunteers the goal of your VBS and then explain why you chose the VBS resource you are using. It is very important to get your volunteers "on board" with the vision for your VBS - if we are all "aiming" for the same "target" we are much more likely to "hit" it!
Walk your volunteers through a typical morning schedule and give them the opportunity to experience a "taste" of each station by involving them in some of the activities the children will be participating in during the VBS. Communicate how each activity serves to reinforce the point of the day's Bible lesson so while the children will have fun, there is a very important reason and purpose for that "fun"!
Be sure your volunteers know how important it is for them to get to know the children in their groups - particularly for the small group leaders. They will be the ones who develop a relationship with the children; since most faith decisions are made in the context of relationships what they do is very important and essential to your VBS!
Spend some time focused on how to lead a child to Christ so all your volunteers are comfortable with doing so . . . then spend time in prayer!
Pray for the children who will be attending your VBS. Pray and ask God to begin preparing their hearts for the truths from His Word they will hear in your VBS. Pray for the children who already know Jesus and ask God to help them learn something new which will enable them to grow in their walk with Him! Don't forget to pray for the families - especially the unchurched families - pray they may be reached through this VBS ministry. Pray for the church families as well that they will grow stronger from their children participating in VBS. Be sure to spend time in prayer during your training!
Challenge your volunteers to spend time the week before VBS asking God to make the Bible points real in their lives . . . as each daily point is taught to the children if the volunteers, particularly the small group leaders, are able to share how God made the point real in their lives and how they lived it in their everyday life, the children will be able to more easily believe it can be real in their lives, too! We want the children to have fun at VBS, but more importantly we want them to remember, understand and live God's Word in their everyday lives! We want them to learn how to take God's Word out the doors of the church with them each and every day!
Let your small group leaders know on the last day of VBS before they go home you have one final, important thing for them to do . . . take a few minutes to write a note to each child in their small groups. Tell your small group leaders you will provide postcards so they can write a personal note - encourage them to be watching all week for something special and personal they will be able to write in their note for each child in their group. After the small group leaders have written their note, they will need to sign an invitation card for each child in their group as well - a card with the purpose of inviting each child, personally and individually to participate in your church's mid-week ministry. Tell volunteers to fill in their post cards - two for each child - before they leave and then place them on the church secretary's desk. The personal note card will be mailed two weeks after VBS and the invite to Fall Ministries will be mailed at the end of the summer. More on these postcards on Friday!
Encourage your volunteers to fully participate and have fun doing so! If the volunteers are engaged and enjoying VBS, the children are likely to follow suit! Ask them to sing with enthusiasm - whether they can sing or not! At each station, rather than sitting in the back and talking with the other small group leaders, get in there and play the games with the children, help them as needed with their crafts, participate actively in the Bible lessons, learn the verses and of course - enjoy the snacks!
One final thing . . . this time for you, thank your volunteers! Thank them for being willing to give of themselves and their time - be sure they know you appreciate them! I'll post tomorrow some ways to show that appreciation!