With the fireworks, parades, and cook outs of July 4th behind us, summer is now well under way. Which means 68% of churches in the U.S. have either recently concluded, or are gearing up for, summer’s biggest event, Vacation Bible School (VBS). Whether you’re a church facilities manager, director of operations, or pastor you understand the importance of VBS and have experienced the challenges faced when planning VBS. In this post, we’ll provide tips and tricks for tackling the three biggest VBS challenges.
1) Scheduling VBS events
Selecting dates for VBS and getting those dates on your church’s calendar while avoiding conflicts can be quite the juggling act.
- Avoid conflicts with popular community events that could draw families away from attending VBS (i.e., state/county fairs, sports tournaments, etc.)
- Do as much research as possible to avoid conflicts with big community events, then simply pick a date and stick to it.
- Add VBS dates/events to your church calendar well in advance
How FMX can help: Using facilities management software, like FMX, makes VBS scheduling easy. FMX enables you to schedule multiple VBS activities in various locations throughout your facilities. The automatic conflict detection feature ensures that you won’t have any unpleasant surprises like double-booked rooms. You can also embed the FMX calendar on your church’s website to give your congregation and community visibility into the VBS schedule.
- Coordinate VBS related transportation needs
How FMX can help: You can use the FMX Transportation Request module to assign drivers and church vehicles to VBS related trips.
2) Preparing your facilities for VBS
With hundreds of children, parents, and volunteers attending VBS it’s important that your facilities are safe, adequately stocked with supplies, and spic and span.
- Stock up on consumable inventory (i.e., toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc.) and VBS related supplies (i.e., craft materials, curriculum and handouts, t-shirts, etc.)
- Schedule cleaning and custodial tasks to be completed before, during, and after VBS
- Schedule VBS decorating and room set up tasks
- Report maintenance and safety issues that need to be resolved prior to VBS
- Request the set-up of technology equipment to be used during VBS (i.e., microphones, projectors, laptops, speakers, cameras, etc.)
How FMX can help:
- You can track the quantities and associated costs of inventory items in FMX and receive email alerts if inventory quantities drop below minimum levels before VBS.
- Cleaning, custodial, decoration, and room set-up tasks can be scheduled and assigned to members using the Planned Maintenance (PM) module in FMX. PM tasks can include detailed checklists and issue email reminders to assigned members when they are upcoming, due, or overdue.
- Maintenance and safety issues can be submitted using FMX’s Maintenance Request module. Maintenance requests can be assigned to members and resolved while tracking associated costs.
- Your church’s IT team can be notified of VBS technology needs through the FMX Technology Request module.
3) Recruiting VBS volunteers
According to a study conducted by the Barna Group, the most common reason for not offering VBS in 2012 was a lack of volunteers, accounting for 30% of the churches who did not offer VBS that year.
- Schedule VBS around your volunteers. Consider switching to a half-day or evening schedule to accommodate volunteers’ work schedules.
- Utilize teen helpers who typically have more flexibility than adults and might be searching for summer volunteer opportunities
- Give volunteers a variety of options for serving during VBS, not everyone has to be a presenter. (i.e., registration table, decorating, preparing craft kits, leading a morning prayer, providing snacks, etc.)
- Invite volunteers to get involved via personal phone calls in addition to other promotional methods (i.e., videos, flyers, etc.)
- Make it easy for volunteers to sign-up. You could place sign-up sheets in pews on Sundays, pass them out to members as they enter church, or send sign-up sheets home with children who attend Sunday school.
How FMX can help: Streamline the volunteer sign-up process, and minimize the amount of paperwork involved, by using FMX.
- Volunteers can submit a volunteer sign-up form in the FMX system which can be customized to capture specific details like the days/times the volunteer is available, activities they’re interested in helping with, and more.
- Volunteers can then be scheduled for VBS shifts/events using the FMX Schedule Request module.
- Volunteers will receive notifications about the events they’ve been assigned to and each volunteer shift will appear on the FMX calendar.
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Jamie is the marketing director at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not keeping the marketing ship afloat, chances are she’s trail running with her husband or practicing her guitar skills.