A Guide to Texting VBS Volunteers and Parents
If you're wondering what texting has to do with Vacation Bible School, then this is the right read. Because it turns out texting has everything to do with VBS. You'll likely see the best response rates when collecting registrations, recruiting volunteers, and sending parent announcements through texting. And even though there's a lot to think about during one of the busiest weeks of kids ministry, we can help brainstorm with you. So if you’re the children's director, this post is for you, and if you're not, then you know who to share this with.
When you’ve decided it's time to start promoting VBS, whether it’s a digital slide on Sundays or a QR code posted throughout your building, encourage people to sign-up for VBS notifications. Once they opt-in to your texting list, you can send regularly scheduled reminder texts.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Send mass texts using your 5-digit number (known as a short code) if you have one. Short codes are the easiest number to interact with and they're enabled for two-way conversations. For example, imagine the two numbers below are showing on your screen during service. Which is simpler?
New here? Text JOIN to 94000
New here? Text JOIN to (580) 309-5902
More than likely, the first option is easier to remember. If you don't have a short code, no worries! 10- digit numbers still work great.
Keep your messaging timely, relevant, and concise. Sending a long text everyday might be too much. Instead, try sending one or two texts within a week, and consider shortening your texts as much as possible.
Consider creating a recurring message that automatically sends the same update at the same time each week. This saves you from having to remember to send out reminder texts. In other words, work smarter - not harder.
As VBS starts getting closer, you’ll want to recruit volunteers to lead Bible classes, craft activities, and group games. Create a send menu for people interested in serving and tie that menu to a keyword. For example, people could text your VBS keyword and receive a list of volunteer opportunities to choose from (ie. reply with '1' for Bible, '2' for Crafts, etc.).
Try it out! Text VBSVOLUNTEER to the number 970-00 to see a VBS send menu in action.
Depending on which option they choose, each person will receive a specific text with more information on the area they’re interested in. From there, you can add steps that make the most sense for your church — route people to a list based on the number they replied with, send a message that includes a link to your background check, or automatically push volunteers to your church management software.
Once you’re a few weeks away and registration has opened, create a keyword for VBS registration. Promote a QR code or a simple call-to-action prompt (Text VBSREGISTER to 97000) in multiple places: kid’s check-in, worship center, welcome area, etc.
What happens after people text in with your keyword is up to you, but here are a few ideas:
Send a link to your VBS registration page
Collect additional info through a digital connect card
Send a link to a Clearstream sign-up form
If you haven’t checked out the above link about Clearstream sign-up forms yet, then I’ll save you some time. With a sign-up form, parents could specify each list they want to receive communication from. For example, if a parent has a child in 2nd grade and in 4th grade, they could select both lists and be automatically routed to those lists inside of your Clearstream account. This requires a little more set up in your account, but once it’s time to start communicating with parents, you’ll already have an established list of those you need to send specific information to. And if you need help setting up a more in-depth workflow for VBS, you can schedule a call with our team here, or hit us up on live chat.
It’s a good idea to designate someone on your team as "VBS Communication Liaison" - feel free to steal that title by the way. What does this person do? Basically, they prioritize updating both parents and volunteers throughout each day, and are available to reply to incoming responses.
If you have parents who have opted into VBS texts, then sending daily recaps of what each grade experienced can help parents feel in the know about what went on during VBS. Here’s an example - “Hey third grade parents! Today the children learned the story of David and Goliath, ate popcorn at snack time, and played soccer at recreation. Thanks for bringing them! Tomorrow we start at 8am.”
For your volunteers, there are a lot of moving parts and every leader needs to be on the same page. Texting small schedule changes or reminder messages like “Hey leaders! 5 minutes until the next rotation!” can make a huge difference in the structure and organization of VBS.
Once VBS is over, you can finally relax... Yeah, right! Who are we kidding? It’s time to follow up! Luckily, the follow-up process doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need to do is send a mass text to volunteers and parents, thanking them for participating and notifying them of upcoming church events that they can get plugged into.
To sum it all up
VBS is such a fun season, and we hope you find joy, even in the chaos — the good chaos. We also hope texting is a useful tool as you communicate with parents and volunteers. For more specific use cases or in-depth questions about your specific VBS set-up, reach out to our support team and we’d be happy to help! You can even schedule a Zoom call with us.