Jump directly to the Content Jump directly to the Content

4 Creative Ways to Thank Volunteers

Keep them coming back after the holidays

'Tis the season—the season when church leaders and volunteers feel the squeeze of work and family life. From Christmas cards to gift wrapping to party planning, Christmas adds a new dimension to our already hectic lives.

And then there's church! For weeks, volunteers have been feverishly preparing Christmas programs, organizing gift markets, coordinating food drives. Church workers have been hard-pressed on every side with little relief.

All of the extra work that comes with the Christmas season—even when it's fulfilling and meaningful—can lead to year-end burnout. So now is a perfect time to get creative about how you show appreciation to your ministry volunteers. Here are a few creative ways to say thank you as you begin the new year.

Quiet Recognition

When a woman at my church did an extraordinary job leading an event this fall, I didn't just send her a thank you e-mail. Instead, I wrote an e-mail to my senior pastor and elders, commending her work in detail. Many leaders, mired in their own responsibilities, don't always know the particulars of—or people involved in—each ministry. Several of my colleagues who received my e-mail responded by sending a personal note of thanks to this volunteer. By sharing my gratitude for her with others, she received a flood of thanks that otherwise would have been missed.

Heartfelt Thanks

Year-end is a great time to offer your ministry leaders the gift of gratitude. Instead of sending them a quickly jotted note or e-mail, take time to pray for each of them. Ask God to lead you to a Scripture to pray for them—and then share this with each of them individually. The apostle Paul's letters are a great place to start looking for examples of how to pray for those you shepherd and mentor, and how to express your gratitude to them.

Go Vintage—Use the Phone

Consider calling each volunteer—or those most actively involved—just to thank them specifically for what they mean to you. It is a rare gift to receive a phone call where the caller isn't asking you to do anything! Before calling, make a note of a specific quality you want to bring up to the person. Try to avoid thanking them for work they do in the church; rather, think about a way you can thank them for what they mean to you. I recently shared with a friend how much her wisdom and advice have helped me become a better leader. Your team will feel prized when they know they are supporting you and that you value their friendship.

Stretch the Budget

If you have access to some ministry funds, consider how you can spur some leaders to even greater things. In my experience, volunteers often fulfill their roles well—but rarely are challenged to continue to grow in them. If one of your leaders is a great Bible study teacher, look into the option of having the church pay for her to attend a seminary class. Seminaries like Gordon-Conwell offer distance learning for personal enrichment for as low as $50/class. 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.

Carving out time to show gratitude will leave your volunteers feeling more appreciated and inspired in their work. But we leaders may benefit even more, because when we show gratitude, we slow down and realize the good work our ministry has done. We get perspective on what really matters. And most importantly, we remember that the people we serve with are as important as the people we serve.

Nicole Unice is a contributing editor for GiftedforLeadership.com, and she works in Family and Student Ministry at Hope Church in Richmond, Virginia.

December21, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Recent Posts

When Your Calling Is Challenged
As hardships come, you have 1 of 3 options.
What Is Calling?
Defining this “super-spiritual” word
Cultivate Your Calling in Each Stage of Life
Angie Ward discusses cultivating leadership amid ever-changing responsibilities.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
How to know whether to leave or stay in your ministry context.

Follow us


free newsletters:

Most Popular Posts

Does the Bible Really Say I Can’t Teach Men?How Should the Church Handle Adultery? The Strong Power in Every WomanWhen Church Leaders Mistreat You