There is one simple, valuable lesson I learned a few years ago that I think is applicable in just about every area of ministry.
Make all of your post-VBS plans pre-VBS.
This idea is not new. But for some reason, everything that needs to happen before event typically takes priority over all of the important follow-up tasks.
Truthfully, you can substitute that “VBS” part with virtually anything important. But the key idea here is not to let the momentum stop when VBS ends. When you make a plan before you’re completely “over it,” this year and next year’s VBS will be better.
Here are some items to put on your post-VBS to-do list:
- Plan VBS Volunteer Appreciation – gifts, party, notes. What will you do?
- Set VBS Debrief Meeting Dates
- Create a System for Making Notes to Remember for Next Year
- Create a Plan for VBS Evaluation and Feedback
Creating a Plan for VBS Evaluation and Feedback
Today, I’d like to focus on collecting feedback from families participating in VBS. I’ve seen a few people in our Orange VBS Facebook Group discuss or share their VBS Evaluation Forms. They’ve been very helpful!
For ease, we prefer to give a short survey that parents can fill out before leaving VBS on the final day. This timing is best, because the experience is in the forefront of the parents’ minds. If you prefer, you can create a digital survey to send via email or use a tool like SurveyMonkey, Wufoo, or my favorite Typeform to collect feedback.
Questions for Survey
Regardless of your method of sending out a survey or form, the real key is making sure that you have relevant and helpful questions. To create questions, start with your ministry’s goal for VBS. Then, craft your questions around that specific goal to determine your success and how you can improve for next year. An example VBS goal could be something like, “reaching the community and influencing a kid’s faith journey.”
Remember that your VBS Evaluation should make every parent feel like they are known and are part of your ministry family. Therefore, I would recommend steering clear of directly asking parents whether or not they attend or have attended your church on an evaluation form. Ideally, you’ll already know this information based on their registration information and your regular attendance rolls.
Feedback forms can quickly become a place for negativity, and that’s definitely not the goal! A few questions that we ask in a very positive way are below:
- What was your child’s favorite part of VBS?
- My child(ren) enjoyed VBS and got a lot out of it. (Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, Strongly Agree).
**Be sure to leave space to explain!
- What is one positive experience your child(ren) had at this year’s VBS?
- Suggestions or comments on how to improve VBS in the future?
- VBS was well-organized and ran smoothly. (Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, Strongly Agree)
**Be sure to leave space to explain!
Well . . . I know that I said there were only five crucial questions for your VBS Evaluation Form. But I’m sneaking in a BONUS sixth question that I think you’ll really appreciate!
- Are you interested in volunteering for VBS in the future? (YES, NO)
That last question has been SO helpful for us in the past! We ask parents right there if they’re interested in volunteering for VBS in the future. Without any explanation or commitment, they can circle “yes” or “no”. It’s simply to gauge interest and get names for potential volunteering next year. The only catch is our evaluations are anonymous, so we have someone quickly scan the response to this last question as forms are submitted. Then, we get names and email addresses for anyone that marks “yes.” Our system ensures that parents know their feedback is still anonymous.
BONUS! The feedback you collect from these forms will often provide encouraging stories to share with your volunteers, team leaders, and other staff. Don’t miss this opportunity to share the positive comments and influence the team!
Reviewing the Feedback on VBS Evaluation Form
Now, for the next step in this VBS Evaluation process: reviewing the feedback. What do you do with all of the surveys or forms once they’re turned in? It’s easy to let these forms sit in a pile on your desk, but that’s not helpful. Let’s put a SIMPLE plan in place to make sure parents are heard, and we take their feedback to heart.
We generally do a one-touch sorting process. This means that we read the forms and put them into three different piles:
1) Feedback that is helpful for next year.
This category is pretty self-explanatory. These cards will immediately be transcribed into a document with ideas for the team to consider either at our debrief or at planning for next year’s VBS. Remember that this is a great way to make it easy to recall lessons learned this year when you begin working on next year.
2) Feedback that is helpful but should remain private.
The second category is a bit tricky. In my experience, we occasionally get feedback that is worth noting, but not anything to share with the team at large. It either calls out a person specifically or has the potential to hurt someone’s feelings. Again, this is pretty rare — but occasionally happens. These cases should be investigated further, if possible, and then addressed in an appropriate way.
3) Feedback that isn’t helpful.
The last category is for the suggestions that would take your VBS program off-track or away from the mission of your ministry. It’s important to have this filter in place, because your goal should always be the driving factor in your decision-making and planning process.
I know this is a lot of information, but you’ve got this! May your VBS planning be fun, fulfilling, and worth every second you put into it!
Remember, don’t press pause this summer…Press Play!