Today, Vacation Bible School—better known as VBS—remains one of the most popular church programs in America, with 6 in 10 Americans saying they went to VBS growing up. Two-thirds of American parents say they plan to send kids to VBS this summer—even if they skip church themselves. The Vacation Bible School experience begins with the registration process. Here’s what we know is true in the age of technology:
- If your registrations are complicated and frustrating, you might lose potential families from attending.
- On the other hand, streamlined and easy-to-use digital forms might help you attract new registrants.
- You can also save yourself and your volunteer staff the hassle of stacks of paperwork and lost permission slips.
- Digital tools make collecting attendee information easy and organize VBS registration from any location.
- Most of all, families enjoy the convenience of finalizing registration from home without worrying about paperwork when arriving at Vacation Bible School.
Still with me?
Here are a total of 9 ways to simplify VBS registration, starting with what the church can do first:
- Ensure that the online registration can be accessed by anyone at any location and time. The registration should be optimized for desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
- When thinking through forms, the easiest way to incorporate this into your VBS website page is by integrating it with your ChMS. That way, when people fill out a form on your church website, it will automatically populate into your ChMS for easy organization and upkeep.
- We call this one a win-win: Offer a free VBS-themed t-shirt with every online pre-registration. This increases engagement (kids love t-shirts) and will likely boost your pre-registrations for planning purposes.
Simplify VBS registration for families by:
- Welcoming all on the VBS web page and giving families the option to register as church members or visitors.
- This will expedite church members’ registration as your ChMS will help auto-populate their information, and they can select family members attending. Since this contact info is in your database for Sunday School, you should have accurate information.
- Visitors should have the exact same form as church members for data purposes. They should not have to repeat parent info for multiple children, making it a smooth and effective streamlined process.
- Both guest and member forms should have a box to check at the bottom to indicate they’ve reviewed and approved the registration.
- Hosting a sign-up table at church with friendly faces and tablets for easy registration.
- Replicating your one-page digital form onto paper and having it on a clipboard with pens for easy sign-up at the VBS event table will expedite entry into your ChMS.
The day is here! Simplify VBS check-in for families with these three tips:
- Have fast pass tables – these are alphabetical lines with pre-registered camper packets. The packets include their class assignments and any paraphernalia (including the freebie t-shirt!) needed to find their groups.
- Tablets and clipboards for easy last-minute registrations along with class rosters so you can easily assign new VBS’ers to the proper classes, issue them their packets, and share pick-up info with parents.
- Signage is imperative to make this first-day process friendly, welcoming, and efficient. Balloons and color coding work really well and create a festive and organized environment.
Remember, day two check-in won’t be as busy as day one, but you may still have some new registrants, so don’t break down that welcome table. In fact, it should morph into the help desk throughout VBS. So keep it manned and have everything on hand for efficiency and to reduce the stress of checking in and asking questions.
Bottom line: Registration should be straightforward so you can focus on these little people skipping into your church with their friends to learn about Jesus! Connecting with people is how you help them grow spiritually, and we just want to partner with you on the organizational data end to keep the main thing, the main thing.
Drake serves as an ACS Technologies Business Development Manager. He’s been with ACST for four years as a trusted advisor for clients and partners, focusing on process improvement, leadership development, and metrics for success. Drake enjoys time with his family and participates in various roles at his church.