Creative ways to let your wonderful volunteers know you
Your volunteers go above and beyond their calling by faithfully
serving -- often without anyone ever taking notice. And while
"praise from people" certainly isn't the reason volunteers serve,
it's appropriate-and necessary-to attend to and thank those who
faithfully give of themselves through their personal investment in
Check out what children's ministers are doing to tangibly thank
their volunteers. And discover creative ways you can end this
school year on a positive thank you note.
All-Seasons Thanks -- "We have a plan to show our
volunteers all year that they're appreciated," says John Wiseman
from Neighborhood Church in Redding, California. "In the fall, we
present returning teachers with a book about practical ministry to
help equip and further train them as they begin the new year. At
Christmas, I send a handwritten thank you card with a gift
certificate for a pie from an area restaurant. And at the end of
the school year, I give them a book to encourage them in their walk
with Christ, along with a personal, handwritten note to thank them
for their service."
Mardi Gras Event -- "We had Mardi Gras Night," says Larry
Shallenberger from Grace Baptist Church in Erie, Pennsylvania,
about a recent large event he planned for his church's
"I went online to find out what the colors for Mardi Gras meant,
and I learned they originally were chosen to reflect the royalty
and power of God. I utilized these colors, ordered Mardi Gras
decorations, and went all out decorating. We had Cajun food, and to
take advantage of the teaching moment of the Mardi Gras colors, we
asked our volunteers to form groups and think of ways they saw
God's power, faithfulness, or wealth in their teaching ministries
over the past year. I then presented each volunteer with a
FaithWeaver TM cross pin (again utilizing the color theme) from
Group Publishing to end the evening.
"I'm currently in the process of sending out letterhead I had made
for the children's ministry to each family," continues
Shallenberger. "And I'm asking the parents to write a note of
appreciation to their children's teachers on one side and to have
their children do the same on the other side. Then I'll collect
these notes and bind them into books for the teachers to present a
truly heartfelt thank you from our church to the volunteers."
Loving Volunteers -- "Volunteer appreciation is what
ministry is all about-helping children come to Christ and loving
the people who see that happen," says Mark Hoogerhyde of Kentwood
Community Church in Kentwood, Michigan. "I present my volunteers
with a gift each Christmas, send personal notes to our volunteers
(especially when I see a volunteer do something special with the
kids), and plan a catered dinner once a year.
"This year we're doing something new -- we're planning a
children's ministry volunteer picnic for all volunteers and their
families. We'll have food, games, and fun at an area park and are
planning a time my volunteers won't forget."
Hoogerhyde also considers training part of his volunteer
appreciation ministry, so he sends volunteers to many outside
training events and provides in-house training throughout the
Eat, Drink, and Be Thankful -- We have an ongoing
volunteer appreciation ministry at Sparta Baptist Church, in
Sparta, Michigan. Year-round we thank our volunteers with notes,
candy, and other little surprises hand-delivered to them before
their classes begin each week.
Each fall we have our annual holiday open house where I open my
home for two evenings and invite the volunteers and their guests to
come, enjoy good food, good fellowship, and Christmas music. I
present each volunteer with a gift certificate to an area
restaurant (donated by the restaurants) and a handmade Christmas
ornament. It's a fun evening that leaves my volunteers affirmed,
renewed, and feeling appreciated.
In spring we have an annual volunteer appreciation dinner. This
year we'll have coffee mugs with our children's ministry's new logo
made to present to the volunteers.
Thanks on a Shoestring
If you're considering a ministry of appreciation to your volunteers
but are constrained by your budget, consider the following ideas to
send a clear message of gratitude. You'll delight your volunteers
and rally your congregation and community around these
Community In-Reach -- Approach area restaurants, gift stores, and
florists about donating a gift certificate. Many will be happy to
do so. For the small amount of time it takes to contact businesses
and pick up the certificates, you'll be able to present your
volunteers with a truly wonderful gift at no cost to your
Magnetizing Ministry-Take a photo of each class on a digital
camera. Print the photos on magnetic printer sheets, and present
your volunteers with special photo magnets of their classes. Print
cards that say, "Thanks for sticking in there! We're so thankful
you were our teacher this year!" Have kids from each class sign the
Adopt a Volunteer -- Ask adults in your church who don't
teach to be involved in your volunteer support and appreciation
ministry by "adopting" a teacher. When they adopt, they're
•Provide one year of prayer support.
•Keep their adopted volunteer informed of any adult class
activities such as dinners or parties.
• Celebrate the volunteer's birthday.
• Participate in volunteer appreciation day. That means showing up
at the volunteer's home to wash the car. They can deliver a
"catered" breakfast, lunch, or dinner along with flowers and a card
that says, "Thank you for serving so faithfully in your
When we involve others in our church in thanking those who serve,
it's more meaningful to the volunteer and it provides the
opportunity to make a powerful impact in the lives of those who