Hopefully you’ve found a handful of volunteers passionate about the VBS mission of training and disciplining young hearts, so you’re onto your next task of putting together a training strategy for your enthusiastic team. A good training plan will go far in promoting the success of your event, so don’t skimp on time and effort; consider these tips in 10 Ways to Easily Train Volunteers to Help with VBS.
10 Simple Ways to Train Volunteers to Help with VBS
1. Plan Ahead
Good planning will alleviate a lot of headaches and last-minute hassles. Volunteers have lives too, so dates and times for meetings (and the actual event!) all need to be pinned down well before the first meeting. Create and follow a checklist that takes you through the entire process, one that will help ensure that each task is completed on time and in detail.
2. Send out training packet
This is your “VBS week in review” guide for volunteers and should be sent out with your orientation manual. Along with the date and times, you’ll want to include important preparation items for your volunteers to review prior to training. Such items will include the overall VBS theme, lesson summaries, and relevant scriptures. Impress on each volunteer the importance of preparing for the event in prayer and study. If you choose a VBS program like SharefaithKids, this part of the training plan will be super easy. Simply assign login credentials to each user on your team to give them online access to videos, slideshows, lesson scripts, and relevant training content—all of which can be accessed via their personal computer, smartphone, tablet or any other electronic devices.
3. Conduct a Strong 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, go over dates, and talk about the exciting things planned for this year’s VBS. Take the time to pray as a group for a single vision, and for a heart of love and patience for the kids who attend. End the time with food, fellowship and a little fun!
4. Optimize your time
If you require a series of meetings, schedule them all with attention to efficiency. Volunteers are like everyone else, busy. A series of small meetings is less effective than scheduling a few longer ones. There are families, jobs, and school schedules to consider as well as the actual commute time.
5. Allow for open discussion
It’s true that by the time you get to training your volunteers you should already have the program pretty well developed (I am not suggesting you shouldn’t), but it’s a good idea to really pull the effort together as a group. A great way to impress the lessons into the minds and hearts of your volunteers is to allow them to contribute and help you develop the program. Open discussion about the material might add additional insight or even reveal any misunderstandings of the overall goals.
6. Walk through the schedule
During the meeting just before the big event physically walk the volunteers through the different stations: crafts, lessons, drama presentations, games, videos, snack area, group rallies, and whatever else you will be providing the week of VBS.
7. Review safety procedures
Communicate to your team that keeping kids safe is a top priority by preparing a well thought out plan and carefully reviewing each safety measure. I will be addressing this in more detail later, but for now, categories to include are things like food allergies, the well-child policy, handling medical issues and accidents, transition protocol, and safeguards to prevent kidnapping and abuse.
8. Review discipline procedures
How do you handle unruly children or settle relational tension between kids? Keeping in mind that the end goal is a changed heart, you will need a careful blend of discipline, instruction, and praise. This ethic should be effectively taught and demonstrated to your volunteers. Provide typical scenarios and walk through the problem-solving process with your team.
9. Review Rules
Be clear about what is required of your volunteers and the policies you have put into place regarding things like cell phone use, picture taking, dress code, appropriate interaction with the children, and bathroom policies. Be sure that you clearly establish the lead teacher as their authority in the class and as their accountability.
10. Emphasize discipleship
We are in the business of making disciples for Christ, which involves more than just teaching and training. It is coming alongside the child and demonstrating Godly attitudes, applying the Word in a practical way and helping them use scripture in their own everyday lives. Encourage each volunteer to pray every day for the kids in their group so that they will have eyes to see clearly what only God Himself can enable them to see. I really like the idea of having the volunteers write a personal note to each child at the end of the week. This will further foster a discipleship mentality.
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