It’s that time of year again. We just got back from spending our whole morning at church setting up for Vacation Bible School. It never ceases to amaze me just how much work there is to do for setting up.
Today some of us were decorating, some of us were assembling student books, some were covering the floor with plastic sheeting. Even Hunter was called upon to lend a hand carrying boxes and stuffed animals and Bibles to their various assigned locations.
I’m a member of the leadership team for our church’s VBS program and have been for several years now. Yet, I remember the day when I finally decided to step into that position. The most I had done to help in years past was to volunteer in the nursery. To go from little involvement to BIG involvement was a BIG change.
Every year when I help I marvel at the people who step up and take on their own volunteer roles (be it the small parts or the big roles). I am constantly amazed by teens and adults who show up to be teachers or helpers or rec leaders or music leaders or craft leaders or nursery helpers. Their good attitudes and servant hearts are so evident and so impactful.
And yet, I know there are many who sit at home or at work who think thoughts I used to think. “What could I do?” There are roles at VBS that I could either not do at all or would not do well. But there are so many ways to be involved and for a long time I didn’t know that. So I write this just to help others see how they can help with this awesome outreach to some kids who really need some love and some Jesus in their lives.
1. Set Up Helper. If you can tape decorations to the wall, distribute Bibles to classrooms or unpack a box of decorations, you can be a set up helper. This is something we never advertise for and also something we generally depend on our families to do with us. But the more hands, the lighter the work. Asking the VBS team if you can help with set up would be a sweet offering.
2. Leadership Team Helper. As a member of the leadership team, I have had people volunteer to watch my babies or toddlers for the morning at my home so that child could get a one or two day break from being in the nursery. I’ve had others volunteer to drive my kids to their own VBS locations (in our town each grade level goes to a different host church during VBS week) so that I could be at my own VBS on time. This is a sweet blessing that calms at least one worry in my mind.
3. Meal Provider. One of the sweetest things each year is when a women’s Bible study group offers meals to the VBS Leadership team. There are three of us on the team so sometimes they have made a home-cooked meal for each of our families. Sometimes they have handed us a gift card for pizza. And every year I have almost cried at their sweet note and their kind hearts. What a gift!
4. Prayer Walker. I heard about this from one of my aunts on facebook and I thought it was brilliant. Early in the morning, before VBS begins and even before most people have gone to work for the day, we invite people to come and walk the halls, stand in the classrooms, and wander through the various areas in our church where the kids will be during the morning. As they go they pray. Setting aside a special time of your day to pray on location or even just from your home is a vital part of our week at VBS. You can’t imagine what some of these kids are dealing with. And sometimes they come with questions or behavioral issues or hurting hearts and that is a big time challenge for the teachers in our program. Upholding all of these people with your prayers is not just a nice thing to do…it is essential to the success of the week at VBS.
5. Snack Provider. We love to spoil our teachers and helpers in any way we can during the week and one way we do this is by asking for special snacks just for them each day of VBS. Some of our snack providers have made amazing bars or cut up fruit or even ordered a breakfast pizza to be delivered. Our volunteers love this and it is just one small way we can sweeten their week.
6. Be a Thanker! At the end of the week, I feel like there is never a way I could express how grateful I am for the way all of our volunteers have given of their time and talents. Witnessing the week at VBS is a powerful thing. When you see kids terrified to come in the door on day 1 that end up laughing and LOVING their teachers and classmates at the end of the week you cannot help but smile. There are bonds that are formed and that is because of the selflessness of people who have given of their time to be there during the week. And it would make my heart so happy to see every member of my church seeking out the VBS volunteers to thank them for their time and effort. Do you want people to love serving others? Thank them and appreciate them and express your gratitude.
7. Clean Up Crew. Just as it takes a lot of effort to set it all up, it also takes a lot to tear it all down. If you have an hour or two to spare on the last day of VBS, show up at the very end and offer to carry a table or peel posters off the wall or run the vacuum over the floor. Truth be told, we are exhausted at the end of VBS so a fresh dose of energy and strength is a beautiful blessing.
Just some ideas to make your VBS as awesome and sweet as it can be for all involved. You will NOT regret anything you do for your VBS team.