VBS means different things to different people. It’s a time of outreach, a time of excitement, and, perhaps more than anything else, a time for you as a kids pastor to plan! And finding the right program is only the beginning. You’ve got to recruit volunteers, schedule decorating time, communicate with your team, and much more. It’s enough to make the most type A personalities overwhelmed. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some free VBS resources to help with all that?
The great news is that there are! So planning doesn’t have to be a drag this year. With as much as you have on your plate, we’ve done the heavy lifting to find the best free VBS resources to make your planning this year a cinch. Get ready for the best VBS program your church has ever put on!
(Our free download comes after some quick recommendations at the bottom of this post. Read through to the end to get yours!)
Why do I need these online tools?
We live in a digital age with more websites, programs, and products than ever before to organize and execute events. But oftentimes, we can be a bit gun-shy when it comes to moving to digital.
“My volunteers would never use that.”
“What I’ve done has always worked just fine.”
“I just don’t have the time to learn new stuff.”
All valid thoughts. But if you’d be willing to be challenged… What if there are people on your team who would actually prefer some digital management tools? What if some of these ways would improve your efficiency and give you more time to invest in the people of your ministry?
Would it be worth it? I think so.
The truth is that if you’re not willing to move forward on how to plan, you could find some volunteers even more frustrated and confused. Your commitment to finding the best possible ways to plan with these free VBS resources will make your program (and kids ministry) a smash hit.
So without further ado, here are three of my top picks for tools you can use as you plan this year:
1. Trello (http://trello.com)
Trello’s virtual sticky note and bulletin board system allows you to create simple project management workflows that will have you wondering how you ever lived without them. Using a simplified right-to-left format to manage tasks across complex projects, Trello lets you easily track due dates, upload file attachments, comment, assign team members, and more. Use free integrations with Zapier or If This Then That to automagically add new cards to your Trello boards from a Google Form, for example, to level up your registration game. Trello is free.
A simple Trello board configuration would be to start with the following lists:
In Progress Waiting Approval On Hold
For VBS planning, you might consider adding a column for “Team” with information about each team member attached to their respective card as well as a card at the top of the list with information that every team member would want easy access to (i.e., schedule, teacher/leader guide template, safety procedures, etc.)
Finally, during your VBS team training meeting and documentation, be sure to ask your team to download the free Trello app for their iPhone or Android devices. This will allow them to snap pictures, capture video and testimonies, and, in one step, attach those assets to each child’s card on the registration board.
2. MailChimp (http://mailchimp.com)
MailChimp is an amazingly powerful (and free!) tool that will make you look like a marketing pro in no time, even if you have zero experience in marketing or design.
With MailChimp’s simple drag-and-drop tools and templates, you will be able to create professional emails for everything from your call-for-volunteers campaign to your VBS promotion e-blasts. The best part about MailChimp is that email is their sole area of focus; this means they make sure that every email is optimized for the best possible experience for the person receiving the email. This includes emails that look great on mobile devices and such often-overlooked details as unsubscribe links and legal footers. Both are important to keep you out of hot water with the anti-SPAM police!
Oh, and don’t just think about using email for promoting the event. With MailChimp’s automation tools (paid feature) you can set up workflows that send a series of emails
to recipients based on different factors, such as whether they’ve clicked on a link in a previous email or even opened it at all. You can create similar, yet more static workflows like this using groups within your MailChimp lists to send to targeted people, but know that it will take more time to set the groups up and manage the lists accordingly. This type of feature would be helpful to disseminate information to the parents post-VBS in a way to keep them engaged in their child’s spiritual journey even after the event is over.
3. Google Forms (http://forms.google.com)
Google Forms is a slick, free way to gather information from the most important people. And the relevant uses of it as you’re planning, executing, and reflecting on your VBS are massive.
Quickly create sign-up forms for attendees and volunteers.text
Get suggested donations and have families signup for what they can bring.
Send feedback surveys to parents afterward.
And the forms are super easy to send to the right people. Send the links to your form in an email or post directly to your website or social media pages. You’ll wonder how you ever
To read more about these free VBS resources and more for promoting and planning your VBS, go get our free download!