The church is primarily comprised of volunteers and may well be the single largest “volunteer” army on the planet. Christians are called to serve Christ by being his Church. Each one of us have a role to play as part of the body.
Church staff ministry roles are all about helping each person in the church succeed in serving effectively where God has placed them. In a sense, the word “volunteer” doesn’t do these roles justice. It’s true that these folks are serving without pay, but they are doing much more than donating hours. They are using their gifts to accomplish the Great Commission in the world.
Church staff leaders: Don’t forget to appreciate their work. You have an ongoing obligation to encourage and support them.
A simple definition of appreciate is to recognize the full worth of. How can you appreciate your volunteers? Here are fifteen ideas today:
Give Them The Big Picture
Volunteers are often playing a small part in a bigger picture – help them see how important their role is and what they are accomplishing.
Give Them Access To You
Volunteers will feel appreciated if they are granted access to you through emails, texts and phone calls. Respond as quickly as possible to them.
Provide What Is Needed To Get The Job Done
Do your best to provide the best possible equipment and supplies for your volunteer teams!
Invest In A One-on-one Meeting Each Week
Build into the framework of your schedule a one-on-one meeting or phone call with a member of your volunteer team each week. This can be a breakfast, lunch or a quick cup of coffee.
Check In With Them
As often as you can, check in with your team while they are serving. “Need any help?” “Things going okay for you?” “How was the trip?” “We’re glad you are back!”
Highlight Your Volunteers In Publications Or On The Website
Feature stories about your volunteer team in the church newsletter, on your blog or on the website. You can tag your team in your Facebook post after a big event! Highlight your team publicly. One great way to help your volunteers feel appreciated is to let them know that you know they are there, serving each week! [read more: Three Signs of a Miserable Job]
Give Small Tokens Of Gratitude
You can make an impact with a small investment. Every once in a while, send your volunteer team members a gift card or other small token of appreciation. Here are some ideas for “paying” your volunteer team.
“The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” — Helen Keller
Have Food Available
Food is always a great way to say thanks. Be sure to have coffee for your early morning teams.
Host Regular Community Events And Parties
Most often, volunteer teams are “present and serving.” There is little time for chit chat, conversations or planning. You can encourage your team by organizing, at least a couple times per year, events and parties focused on belonging, community and connection.
Forward Any “Thank You” Emails
One great way to keep encouraging volunteers is to pass on thanks and praise you may receive from others. If you get an email or card, pass it along to the group. I recently received a card from someone thanking one of our teams and I scanned it and emailed it to everyone in the group. Every once in a while, it’s nice to read emails that don’t require any action!
I recently visited a church where the entire greeter and hospitality team wore matching t-shirts that said, “Hello There” real big. It was easy to spot those in leadership. T-shirts always help provide a sense of belonging.
Create “Seasons” Of Service
Make it easy for people to serve for a season, then shift gears if needed. Even the most faithful leaders don’t want to feel locked into perpetual service with no end in sight. Some volunteer roles even structure time off each year.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Celebrate When Someone New Joins The Team
There are many ways to celebrate when someone new joins the team. You can send an email introducing the new volunteer, you can post their picture, write a blog post or introduce them at the next meeting. We have created a tradition of introducing anyone new who joins with the band in leading worship on the first Sunday they serve.
Brag On Your Team Publicly
Sometimes, I create ball park statistics and post them in a newsletter — how many miles of cables a sound team has wrapped, how many pounds of food or how many cups of coffee a hospitality team has prepared this year or how many hours a team has served collectively. The figures are big – and probably close to correct! Brag on your team to others! Give God praise for your ministry leaders.
Keep Them In The Loop
If you have a big announcement, tell it to your volunteers early. If you are changing the schedule or making a shift in times for something, be sure to let your volunteers know in advance.
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