Recently we asked our VBS Facebook friends to share their prayer needs. Overwhelmingly the requests were for additional workers. Although I wish it were not the case, this response did not come as a surprise. Time and again we hear from VBS leaders that one of their greatest needs is willing workers.
Here are six steps to consider during the final days of enlistment for VBS 2013.
Step 1: Put your strongest and most experienced workers in speaking or lead roles. This will take the pressure off apprehensive volunteers and well as scale back the pressure on you to find workers who already know how to teach or lead the different areas of VBS.
Step 2: Look beyond the usual list of workers. It may be that the very best VBX leader is someone you have not even considered. I write from personal experience here. We were desperate for workers willing to spend a week with sixth graders. We had a lead teacher but no one else had stepped forward.
One afternoon Dava (our VBS director) said, "I think we should ask Tim if he would help us with the sixth grade." Obviously my response was, "I can't see Tim saying yes. I really can not see him relating to sixth graders."
Thankfully Dava won the day and asked Tim, who obviously said yes - otherwise there wouldn't be a story here.
To put it simply, Tim was awesome! After VBS he came to me and said he would really like to continue the experience by working with sixth graders in Sunday School. How often does that happen?
Within a few months Tim became the director of the department, and within the year he had expanded his ministry to include an extremely successful community outreach basketball program for inner city kids.
Thankfully Dava looked beyond the usual!
Step 3: Realize that quiet often the problem with recruiting volunteers might just be you and your attitude about enlisting. It is not unusual to find a director who is uncomfortable personally asking people to help. As a result, the director depends on bulletin announcements - the lest effective way to enlist workers - and then is bewildered when few if any respond.
Typically there are more people then we realize who will say yes if personally asked, but will never respond to mass appeal. If you have a difficult time recruiting personally, enlist a team of people who are good at it. In this way you are recruiting only a few people who in turn will recruit the masses. Beside, getting more recruiters on the team will help take care of the issue of looking beyond the usual list of workers.
Step 4: You also need to realize that there are potential volunteers who are willing to help, but might never volunteer because they feel inadequate,or are afraid to volunteer only to be rejected because the position has been filled by someone else. Often a hesitancy to volunteer has more to do with fear of rejection then fear of the job.
Step 5: When you do ask someone to help, make sure you know what you are asking him to do. Give him a list of specific responsibilities using terminology that is self explanatory. For example, don't ask me to be the lead teacher for the first grade class without telling me exactly what a lead teacher is expected to do. When people know exactly what they are being asked to do they are much more willing to agree.
Another aspect of Step 5 is don't ask someone to just be a warm body to fulfill worker/student ratio in the classroom. No one - even if they say they do - wants to just be there with no responsibility or purpose. Believe me, I have been recruited as a warm body and it was the most boring and uncomfortable thing I have ever been asked to do. When you ask someone to be a helper, make sure you have at least a short list of expectations. People willingly serve when they recognize and identify with a purpose. Give every worker a purpose and show him how his job fits into the big VBS picture.
Step 6: Realize that no matter the size of your church, finding enough workers is not easy. It is all proportional.
While in seminary I served at a church of about 75 regular attenders. A friend served at a church of about 5,000. I desperately needed two additional workers for our preschool Sunday School. One day I whined that if I were at a church the size of her church I wouldn't have a problem finding enough workers. She quickly informed me that while I desperately needed two preschool workers, she needed a new group of 250 preschool extended teaching time workers every Sunday.
Lesson learned! No matter the size of the church there is always a need for workers. AND no matter the size of the church God has placed just the right number of volunteers.
As we approach the Day of Prayer for VBS this Sunday (May 19), know that LifeWay's VBS team is praying for you and the workers needed for the harvest in your community.