Showing Gratitude to the Servants in Your Church
Happy New Year everyone! We hope you had a fantastic and restful holiday season with your loved ones (and shared some laughs along the way).
Christmas 2016 was definitely a season to remember. Every year Christmas is when church leaders and volunteers feel the chaos of work and family life. With Christmas on a Sunday this year, that presented another dimension to already hectic lives.
For weeks, your staff and army of volunteers have prepared Christmas programs, organized Christmas markets and coordinated outreach efforts. While this season is full of excitement, activities, and hope. It can also be draining. Thankfully, with the new year comes some rest and renewing. Begin 2017 the right way, by taking a few deep breaths after the crazy pace in November and December and by letting the people who matter most know how much you appreciate them. Here are four ways to say thank you in 2017.
A Quiet Thank You
When a volunteer does an extraordinary job leading an event or team, you can do more than just sending a thank you email. Instead, try writing an e-mail to senior leaders and elders, commending their work in a specific and detailed. Many leaders, who can get caught in the weeds with their own responsibilities, they don’t always know the particulars or people involved in each ministry or event. If you bring this to their attention, they will most likely take the initiative to write a personal note of thanks to this volunteer. By sharing your gratitude for specific volunteers with others, there is a huge potential for someone to receive a flood of thanks that otherwise may have been missed.
Once a year go all out, treat your volunteers like guests of honor and make this a highlight of the church calendar. Choose an interesting theme and make the evening memorable and fun. Provide great food, games and even awards for everyone involved (or award by ministry team if possible). This is the time for your volunteers not to serve, but to be served by your pastors and paid staff. Take lots of photos, get them on social media and show off your volunteers all dressed up and having a great time.
Public Expression of Gratitude
Different than the above, it’s also important to thank people on a consistent and frequent basis in a public manner. When was the last time you thanked people from the stage? You don’t have to call out a list of specific names (unless you would like to maybe recognize specific team leaders), but teams that are fundamental for success on a Sunday deserve appreciation. So, every once in awhile maybe thank the parking team for getting everyone in and out of your campus safely or the worship team for their dedication to practicing and playing music each week or the sound and tech team for organizing sound or PowerPoint lyrics. Giving consistent, public recognition boosts morale for a team, and you just don’t know who might need that extra boost in their life that day.
Make Room In the Budget
If you have access to ministry funds, consider how you can spur leaders to even greater things by creating space in the budget for them. Not for a payment, but for growth. Volunteers often fulfill their roles so well, but rarely are challenged to continually to grow in them. For example, if one of your leaders is a great Bible study teacher, look into the option of having the church pay for him or her to attend a seminary class. Or, if you have a talented volunteer in Children’s ministry, send a people to the the Orange Conference to learn more about nurturing and teaching the children of your church. Or perhaps you have some volunteers who faithfully provide hospitality and decorating how about a floral arranging workshop or a design magazine subscription? Caring about what your volunteer leaders love to do and then providing learning in that area is an easy way to keep them excited about serving.
As a pastors or church leader, we like to feel appreciated. We like to know our work and service is making a difference to others. The volunteers in our churches are not any different. Take the time to find creative ways to show appreciation to volunteers and how their partnership in ministry impacts the spread of the gospel in and through our churches.