Youth groups—they are a VBS director's dream. Groups of able-bodied youth with boundless energy . . . but how do you make the most out of their enthusiasm without losing your own sanity? Here are a couple of ways to think about and incorporate teen volunteers to maximize your VBS programs.
I always have one major youth VBS prep night. This is usually held the Wednesday night (the regular night when our youth meet) the week before VBS (in our church I call it “prep week”). This particular night is known throughout the church as the youth night. If you don’t love teens, come at your own risk because we make it a party! Pizza, soda, and ice cream are served. Music is played. And the youth are given their tasks which are supervised by their leaders. During this night so much of the decorating is accomplished—hanging decorations throughout the entire church, getting tables and chairs set up in each of the classrooms and craft space, and more! The more physical the labor, the better.
You want it to be a good experience for everyone.
This takes a little more strategy as you want to make sure you find the right fit for the right youth (be mindful of who they are paired up with for the week). You want it to be a good experience for everyone. Don’t let age fool you. For those younger youth, possibly just a year or two out of attending VBS themselves, assisting with games, crafts, or snacks is ideal. If you have an older youth, having them help lead children to the different rotations provides a great sense of responsibility, plus the younger children really look up to them.
Many churches use teen volunteers to act out a live drama for their opening or closing assembly. This is another great way to harness their enthusiasm and channel it into a powerful opportunity to share the gospel with your VBS kids and solidify the biblical truths they learned.
Being detailed with what they can expect and, more importantly, what is expected of them, helps set them up for a successful experience.
One last thought about youth volunteers—often this is their first experience with serving. Being detailed with what they can expect and, more importantly, what is expected of them, helps set them up for a successful experience. This is a great opportunity to train the youth as Paul instructed Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Having early success with this group of volunteers often leads to excitement to serve in future years. And to be honest, don’t we always need more volunteers?