How do you say "thanks" to those who serve in ministry?

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What does your church do to thank those who serve each year in ministry?

Do you have an event? If you have an event to thank volunteers, who helps with it so the volunteers can just enjoy it?

Do you say thanks in worship?

Write a personal note?

I am really interested in hearing your ideas and suggestions for how to value and appreciate those who serve. 

Thanks!

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Let's Discuss…

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Rebecca,

I posted the following in the elder forum a few months ago. I think ministry leaders like to be appreciated. Besides saying thanks, I think we as a church need to do a better job offering support and training for our leaders.

 

Part of the job of elders is to encourage and support the pastor as well as the various ministries of the church. It is suggested that we give our pastors a sabbatical for a time of refreshment and study. What about the ministry leaders such as Cadet and Gems counselors, youth group leaders, Bible study leaders, Sunday School teachers, etc? In our church (approximately 150 members) many of our leaders have been leading their ministries for many years. Some of them are involved in more than one ministry. So I started thinking about offering some sort of sabbatical for them. I'm not sure yet how this might happen. My initial thoughts were to have two months of no ministry meetings, probably in April and May. Instead of their regularly scheduled meetings, we would offer a weekly seminar. At these get togethers we would bring in some guest speakers who would talk about leadership, burnout, encouragement. We could spend some time studying leaders in the Bible as well as contemporary leaders. There would also be time for discussions on how their ministry programs could improve. We could use this format or we could meet twice a month and still have the ministries meet on the other weeks. My question is, has anyone else done this? If so, can you share what you did and how it was received by the participants? Looking forward to your feedback.

Steve 

Steve, thanks for your thoughts on this.  

I really like the idea of having seminars and intentionally investing in our leaders. I get a little squeamish at the idea of a sabbatical, because I think that too many people would say that our ministries are essential and can't be skipped. A majority of our ministries are related to youth and have a reduced schedule or are off in the summer anyway. Good to think about, though!

Hi Rebecca,

I just saw this post today although you inquired quite some time ago. I thought I would respond anyway - not sure if you're still looking for ideas.

Thanking volunteers is vitally important to the retention of all those involved in your church's ministry programs. What Steve wrote about training seminars is also part of that - recognizing that although people are willing to serve, they also need to be empowered in their roles. So that's one aspect part of the volunteer engagement cycle.
In more concrete ways, one thing we've started in our church is a card ministry - recognizing and thanking people for their various roles - and not just at the end of the church season.
* Last year we had a very difficult congregational meeting in which our Chair of Council did an excellent job in facilitating. After the meeting a card was sent to him acknowledging his contributions and how he handled what at times were extremely difficult discussions.
* After our Stewardship team provided some excellent leadership to our congregation over a number of months, a card was sent to the team in recognition of all that they contributed to a successful campaign.
* At the beginning of the church season, cards were sent to all those involved in some aspect of ministry to our children and young people - thanking them for taking on the responsibilities for a new church season and letting them know we as a congregation appreciated their commitment to share themselves and their faith with our kids.

Another way to thank your volunteers is to invest in their lives as much as possible - meet with them one on one, take them out for a coffee and chat and spend time listening to what's happening with them on a personal level and asking how you can assist them to make their jobs easier. Invest in them, just as they are investing themselves in ministry.
As for saying thanks in worship - yes, absolutely you can (and should) do that. But be sensitive to those who don't like to be centered out in public. It might be an idea at the end of a church season, to publicly acknowlege volunteers and then to celebrate together with the rest of the congregation with special treats or a luncheon after the worship service where members of the congregation can thank volunteers on a more personal level.
There are many other ways you can thank volunteers - if you're still looking for ideas and any other resources on volunteer engagement, feel free to contact me at ServiceLink  csybenga@crcna.org or 800-730-3490

Carol, thanks for the ideas! The need to thank volunteers never changes, and it's always appreciated!

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