Use Planning Center to Schedule and Plan Your VBS

VBS is a great way to connect with kids in your area, but it can be a super-stressful time for administrators and volunteers. With so many moving parts, it's easy to get lost in the middle of the herds of children, sticky hands, and spilled Cheerios. While we can't put the Cheerios back in the box, we can help you stay organized, so you worry less about where you left your stack of registration forms and focus more on those little smiling faces beaming all around you!

One of the first things you can do to set yourself up for success is to start early. Our apps let you create and structure your events whenever you want! You can choose to set everything up ahead of time or on the day of the event.

For the sake of the children and volunteers helping you, get started ahead of time!

  1. Use Registrations to sign up families or volunteers.
  2. Use People to contact your families about VBS.
  3. Use Services to communicate with and schedule your Volunteers.
  4. Use Check-Ins to safely get kids into and out of VBS.

Open Registration

The first part of VBS is allowing people to register for the event. Avoid paper registrations by putting all registrations online, even the volunteers.

If you haven't used Registrations before, view our Setting Up guide or the First Steps section to get a feel for how it works.

When you create the event, you will be prompted to set up the first attendee type, price, and times of the event.

create event

When entering your dates and times for the event, add times for your entire schedule for the week of VBS. These times will show up on the event itself.

Select submit to enter your event, then add any other attendee types you need such as volunteers. When you're editing your attendee types, collect important information about your attendees that will help you with the setup of your other apps.

Once you've set up your attendee types, create assignments for people to check-in to.

Only Administrators will see assignments; they allow you to assign people to teams or classes if you use those for VBS.

Update the notifications, any add-ons, questions, and forms, then go to the settings and set your event to be visible to Everyone with the registration to Open.

Your event is ready for registrations!

If your church uses the Church Center app, people can register for VBS under the events tab!


If you want to see how we set up our VBS, check out our event and walk through the registration process.

Inform Parents

Once you've created your VBS event, send it to the parents of all the children in your database by creating a list in People.

If you haven't used People before, view our Setting Up guide or the First Steps section to get a feel for how it works.

Find all the parents of eligible children in your church database by setting up a rule with conditions like these:

  1. Enter your rules based on the kids you want to register for this event.
  2. Select household adults so your list contains parents of the matching kids, since they're the ones you want to email.
  3. If you know some of the kids don't have parents in their household or have become inactive, check these boxes to include those people as well.

Once you create the list, send them an email with our MailChimp integration with our simple editor by syncing the list in MailChimp. If you want to use a campaign in MailChimp for more advanced formatting, sync the list and then send them an email from MailChimp.

email parents

You can add even more rules to this list, like if you used Planning Center for VBS last year and want to email all the people who attended or volunteered, create a new rule to find those people then send them emails.

Schedule Volunteers

Communicating with volunteers is key to making VBS a great week for kids. Schedule all your volunteers on Services, so they know the schedule of each day and where they're supposed to be.

If you haven't used Services before, view our Setting Up guide or the Leaders & Administrators section to get a feel for how it works.

Create a new Service Type for your VBS and add each day as a separate plan.

service type

When you create the first plan, add the event times as Service Times as well as any call times for volunteers as Rehearsal or Other times.

Then create a team and add positions to the team.



If you want to require background checks, make it a Secure Team.

Once your team and positions are set up in Services, create lists in People based on the attendee types from your Registrations event.

rule for positions

Create an automation to automatically add all those people on the list to the team and position you created.

Now that you have teams set up, add those teams and positions to the plan you created. Use needed positions to define how many people you want to be in each position. If you already know some people who will be scheduled, add them to the plan. Make sure your Service Type frequency is daily, add any order of service elements including any attachments, then copy that plan as many times as you have days.


Once people have registered, and you're ready to schedule, load all your plans into the Matrix and use auto-schedule to add the tagged people into their positions.

After you run the auto-scheduler, select email these people, customize your message, and send out an email. The email from the Matrix will show all the dates and times, so they can confirm for all, decline for a day they won't be there, view the schedule, or respond to the email with any questions they have for you.

Check In Kids

You've spent weeks or months prepping, watching kids get registered, communicating with volunteers, and now it's time to greet all those people with smiling faces!

Once people have registered, and you've put them in their assignments, create a Checkistrations event to make checking in on each day much quicker and easier.

If you didn't use assignments, you can still use Checkistrations and just check everyone into the "All Registrants" location. However, if you choose instead to create an event in Check-Ins separately from Registrations, you can send Mobile Passes for quick check-in.

From the event in Registrations, select Check-In to create your event.

choose event: assignment

Choose either the event name or the event name split out into assignments. When you create the event based on assignments, you can switch between team lists.

If you haven't put people in their assignments, you will not see the option of creating an event with assignments. Add a person to that event then select Check In.

switch teams

If you check someone in who hasn't registered for the event, and they will show up as a Guest, but they will not be automatically registered for the event and will not show up on the list the next day. 

If you need to check in a Volunteer, you have to use a Manned or Roster Station.

If you haven't used Check-Ins before, view our Setting Up guide or the First Steps section to get a feel for how it works.

At the end of each night, check out kids using their security tag. On the Admin side, add a filter for not checked out to see who you might have missed.

When you're ready to start checking kids in again the next morning, select Start a new session to check kids in to a new day.

start a new session

If your church uses the Church Center app, people can pre-check their kids in, and then simply scan a QR code when they arrive!

Follow Up

Once VBS is over, send a follow-up email to all the attendees, create any reports you might need, then clean up your applications by archiving your event and Service Type.

You've just organized your VBS with the help of Registrations, People, Services, and Check-Ins!

And since there are never any contracts for using Planning Center applications, you can downgrade the subscription of any of the applications you were using if you no longer need them. All the information will stay in the application in case you need it in the future. To access reporting information about the event, be sure you stay on the free subscription plan.

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