Last Update 1st October, 2016.
Saying “Thank you!” to your church volunteers and helping them to feel valued and motivated is one of the most worthwhile things you can do.
Your church volunteers are the unsung heroes of your church and the lifeblood of your ministry. Volunteers often give of their energy, skills and time because they are passionate about the mission of the church.
They see and believe in the vision and, more importantly, they believe in you as the leader enough to believe that you can take the church there.
If you want to find out how to get people motivated to step up and volunteer in your church, read 7 Surefire Ways To Get people To Volunteer In Your Church.
‘Thank you’ are two words sometimes we don’t say enough. These two powerful words can encourage your volunteers and increase loyalty.
Happy, motivated volunteers will only attract more volunteers.
“What gets rewarded gets repeated. – Andy Stanley”[Tweet this]
So let’s dive right in – today we’re talking about those hardworking and faithful church volunteers who have served your church with all of their hearts.
I want to share with you 30 special ways you can show your appreciation and say ‘Thank you!‘ to your church volunteers.
1. Send a hand-written card
Make it easy for your team leaders to send regular thank you notes to their team members. Looking for some Thank You cards to use? [Here are some great ones]
2. Applaud your church volunteers publicly
Surprise them this Sunday – choose a kids church worker, cleaners, administrator, or tea maker and bring them out to the front in you main service.
Have everyone stand and applaud them for all their hard work. They will beam with pride and work even harder in the future.
3. Give them the gift of your time
Offer to take at least one church volunteer a week out every week for coffee and a tête-à-tête. Thank them and get to know them better.
Many volunteers are motivated by their drive for influence.They may have started volunteering for your church because they have great ideas and want the opportunity to share them. Grant them that opportunity.
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4. Brag about how amazing your church volunteers are
Take any opportunity, during your sermon or at any other time to brag about how amazing your volunteers are. Tell a personal story how they’ve impacted someone’s life and show them off.
5. Write and post a personal letter
Hand-written communication will never be out of date. It was a small, low-cost gesture, but it meant a lot. Why? Because it was intentional and personal.
Here’s a Volunteer Letter of Thanks template you can use.
Why not make it your goal to post one a week for someone who has gone the extra mile?
6. Contact your local newspaper
Send out a press release to your community paper celebrating your team when they do something “above and beyond” and about the difference they are making in your local community?
Not only is this great (and free) publicity for your church, it will boost morale.
7. Value Your Volunteer’s Time
Thank your church volunteers by making sure there is a enough work for volunteers to do when they arrive.
If someone has put aside their time to serve your church – don’t waste their time!
8. Remember their birthdays
If you don’t have a record of your church volunteers birthday, start making one. Make use of the milestone to show your appreciation and thanks. Surprise and delight volunteers with a birthday card, or give them a shout out on Facebook to show you’re thinking of them.
9. Send them a Christmas card
Don’t forget Christmas cards either. Post them and their family a hand-signed Christmas card. Maybe give them a little gift too -it doesn’t have to expensive, just a token of your appreciation.
10. Simply say ‘Thank you’ this Sunday
Visit every service area that you are “responsible” for this Sunday and say ‘thank you’ to your volunteers for a job well done.
However busy you may be never underestimate the powerful impact a simple word of thanks or encouragement makes.
11. Listen to their ideas
At the end of every “shift” either you or the relevant dept. leader can have a debriefing session. Ask them “What did we do well and what can we improve next time?”
Take time to hear what your church volunteers think could be improved on for the future. Give them the respect of your ear – volunteers can be a wealth of great ideas.
Make them feel like a valued member of your team with a clearly branded volunteer T-shirt of your church or relevant ministry area.
This has the added bonus of your church staff being clearly visible, especially for first-time guests.
13. Give your volunteers more responsibility
Allow some volunteers to gain more influence & take on more responsibility. Nothing says I appreciate you more than giving them more of your trust (if they’re ready for it).
Speaking from personal experience, there’s nothing worse than being given the responsibility to do something without the authority to go along with it. Trust them.
14. Thank your church volunteers by supporting them personally
Get to know what’s happening in your volunteer’s personal lives.
Look for ways to spend some time with them and learn about who they are and about their lives. Where do they work? Who makes up their family? Ask about upcoming holidays.
Volunteers work for you because they believe in you and your cause. Show supporters you believe in them, too.
Cheer on a volunteer who’s running a marathon. Be in the audience when your volunteer delivers that big speech they told you about. Showing you care about them indicates you’re interested in them personally and not just because they ‘fill a gap’.
“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.“
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (The Message)
15. Treat your church volunteers as you would paid staff
Don’t discriminate between your paid staff and volunteers. Reinforce regularly with your paid staff members that our primary role is to support our volunteers.
Appreciate your volunteers by never allowing an ‘us and them’ mentally to breed in your church. Volunteers and paid staff are both to be treated with the respect they deserve.
16. Take photos of your volunteers serving and post them on Social media
This is a great way to show your gratitude than publicly thanking them through your church Facebook page or Twitter account.
Take lots of photos and tag them. Your volunteers are normally very proud about what they do and will love the fact you’re celebrating their work.
17. Let them have a say
It’s likely that your volunteers know more about a certain department than you do.
Don’t impose new policies and procedures without at least talking them through with your volunteer team. Any changes that directly involve them or their department should be discussed prior to making a church-wide announcement.
Don’t let your Sunday school teacher hear about important changes being made to the Sunday school through someone else.
There’s nothing more demotivating than doing all the work but not having a voice.
18. Give your church volunteers the best tools to work with
Your church volunteers understand you might not have truck loads of money for ministry but the very least we can do to thank and appreciate our volunteers is to make sure have the best equipment you can afford for them to work with.
19. Write letters of reference for students volunteering with you.
Don’t forget that volunteering for any area within the church looks great on a CV or resume. If you didn’t realise that, you’re being too humble.
Offer to be a reference, or write a recommendation for connections on LinkedIn.
20. Say ‘Thank you’ to your church volunteers by giving them books
Buy ten leadership books that have impacted you and give them to ten volunteers who have gone above and beyond recently.
Investing into your volunteers has the added bonus of helping them reaching their full leadership potential which can only in turn benefit the whole church.
21. Invite your volunteers into the ‘inner-circle’
This is slightly different to number 17 – as well as letting them have a say in their area of work, make sure your volunteers are “first to know” about exciting things happening in the future of their church.
You could get all your volunteers together once a month, update them on some important changes coming up and give a lesson on leadership.
Your volunteers will feel valued as they are in the ‘inner circle’. People who are not currently volunteering in your church will wonder what they are missing out on and will want to step up and serve.
22. Value your volunteers by not making them pay
Show your appreciation by making sure your church volunteers are never out-of-pocket. However small, insist that the church reimburse them for any out-of-pocket expenses.
23. Thank your volunteers regularly by providing refreshments
Have good tea and biscuits available when they arrive. Better still, you could make a meal available for them before, or after they serve.
24. Celebrate ‘Church Volunteer Appreciation Day’
Once a year go all out, treat your volunteers like guests of honour and make this a highlight of your church calendar.
Choose an interesting theme, pick a colour scheme, make it memorable and fun.
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 out on Facebook and show off your volunteers all dressed up and having a great time. (You’ll probably never have to beg people to step and serve ever again).
Baudville.com have great party and theme ideas, excellent resources and step by step checklists on everything to do with organising appreciation days.
25. Hold an awards ceremony to thank your church volunteers
Perhaps you could incorporate this in your volunteer appreciation day. There is no better way to thank your church volunteers than celebrating the successes of the past 12 months.
How many years has a volunteer served? Celebrate that! Someone done something extraordinary? Applaud them!
Present them with certificates as a way of recognising their efforts throughout the year. [See here for certificate options]
26. Thank your church volunteers by giving them a way out
Easy off ramps …don’t lock your team into perpetual service! This demonstrates to your church members and would-be volunteers that deciding to step up and serve in the church does not a life-sentence.
Affirming and reaffirming your nonprofit volunteers is well worth the effort. Investing a bit of time and creative energy in expressing your appreciation will make for happier, more committed nonprofit volunteers.
27. Pray for your church volunteers
Let them know you prayed for them that day by simply sending text or email and encourage them with a scripture verse.
28. Show them how they fit into the big picture
No matter how small or insignificant a task may seem, every volunteer must see how their ministry connects to the vision of the church – changed lives.
Remind them regularly how they’re making a difference! Tell them how their ministry connects to the mission of your church and the building of God’s Kingdom.
“You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.“
1 Corinthians 12:27 (The Message)
29. Pay for their training
Children’s church workshops, worship leader training, youth pastor’s seminars – whatever it is, invest into your volunteer’s development. You will reap the rewards for years to come.
You cannot expect volunteers to deliver quality ministry without some intentional training and team building.
Provide the necessary resources in order for volunteers to be effective in their roles, as well as transferring attitudes, competencies and knowledge.
TheRocketCompany.com runs many online training courses, teaching anything from leading worship to preaching, church growth to pastor’s help, from how to increase church giving to how to lead church volunteers.
Investing in a volunteer’s personal growth is a high level of appreciation.
Is there a conference that would enhance their gifts and take them to a new level of responsibility? Invite them to participate in growth opportunities and cover their expenses.
30. Just Say “Thank you!” to your church volunteers
Thank God for your volunteers, but don’t forget to thank your volunteers. Ooze encouragement and genuine appreciation every time you come into contact with them. Say “thank you” often and most important of all – mean it.
You don’t need another volunteer sermon … you need a volunteer system!
Don’t forget to check out Volunteer Rocket and learn how to gain, train and retain amazing volunteers. It’s from the good people over at The Volunteer Rocket.
How do you thank your church volunteers? Leave your comment below.