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A VBS volunteer smiles as she points at a young boy. He is sitting next to a young girl.
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A Solid Strategy to Keep Your Volunteers After VBS

Once the dust settles following VBS, you may worry about whether your weary volunteers will stick around. Never fear! They will continue serving when you employ a strategy for volunteer retention that works. Let’s take a closer look at five critical elements of lasting teams.

1. You create a culture that cultivates leaders.

Veteran children’s ministry leaders develop team leaders from their full pool of volunteers. These are people you can count on and delegate to so your ministry functions and team members, including you, avoid burn out.

It takes time to cultivate these leaders among your volunteer teams. And it may not be easy to get into the habit of regular meetings with team leaders. But by carving out and spending time with your leaders, you encourage them to develop the same kind of relationship with their team members—volunteers who deserve the same level of time and attention but may not be able to get it from you. (There are only so many hours in a week!) Model praying with those you lead as this is another important piece of doing ministry together and with God!

2. Your volunteers know their roles and responsibilities.

Delineating clear roles provides greater ownership and enables people to excel in their areas of responsibility. Before your VBS begins, find ways to let team members spend time getting to know each other. Understanding team members’ strengths, weaknesses, and personalities will help teams better determine who should fill which role.

Training and equipping is a key component of this. Never assume that an onboarding training session will cut it. You will increase your team members’ buy-in and passion when you equip them through regular, palatable, engaging, and effective training.

3. You value loyalty and commitment.

One of your volunteers’ primary needs is to be needed—and not only during the heat of VBS. Year round, your message needs to be: “I need you to reach children. God works through you uniquely!” People want to feel that they’re making a valuable contribution to the team. You’ll retain volunteers longer because they feel valued and know that there’s a place for their unique gifts and talents.

In addition to hearing positive feedback from you, it’s also important for teammates to communicate to one another how important they are. You can do this in team meetings where team members regularly share “words of appreciation” about what they value in their teammates. Follow up your VBS with a team debrief. What went well? What needs improvement? And how did your volunteers shine? Encourage “holy gossip” where teammates report to the others the great ways they’ve seen each other contribute.

4. Your team plays together.

The team that plays together, stays together—especially after a sizable event such as VBS. When was the last time your team relaxed together? You can build community within your team by planning regular times where they can kick back and simply enjoy being together. You may decide to play a wild game of Laser Tag. Or your team may enjoy meeting at a trendy coffee shop on a Saturday morning. Encourage team leaders to find out from their teams what they would most enjoy and to plan regular times that are just for fun. As people see how much fun your teams are having in and around children’s ministry, they’ll want to get on board.

5. Volunteers serve and love one another.

Nurture an environment where team members make sacrifices for one another, serve one another, and meet each other’s needs. By God’s grace, your goal is to create teams that become the most life-giving source in a teammate’s life, and therefore, a life-giving source to the children you all serve. That sustaining love is what keeps your volunteer team coming back for more.

Still looking for a VBS program? Check out Group’s three options for Easy VBS, Holy Land Adventure, and Weekend VBS. For even more great ideas for vacation Bible school, check out all our VBS posts

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A Solid Strategy to Keep Your Volunte...

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