If you’re a leader in ministry, you know how important volunteers are. They are the ones who . . .
help programming run smoothly.
develop personal relationships with kids.
show up week after week to influence the next generation.
For a role as important as that, we as leaders must know the best ways to honor and appreciate volunteers.
Let’s face it, honoring our volunteers means more than making sure they have the lesson and show up on a Sunday. Think about what makes you feel seen and valued. A personal gesture, a thoughtful gift, a sincere thank you? The same is true for those who serve in our ministry. Those things keep volunteers coming back. When they feel truly valued, they will take even more value in their role! Let’s talk about some different ways to truly honor your volunteers.
1. Go beyond the serving schedule.
Every leader must make sure that volunteers know when they are serving and are prepared with the lesson. However, volunteers will feel more invested in the ministry if they feel like they are seen and known.
This week, go out of your way to make a personal connection with a volunteer. Do they have an important presentation for work this week? Set a reminder to send them a text before the presentation and say a prayer. Have they had a tough week? Find a time to drop off dinner or send a gift card to a restaurant. Is there a child starting ballet tomorrow? Remember to ask how it went the following Sunday. Any personal connection that shows you are listening, you remember, and you care will go a long way.
2. Set clear expectations.
Another way to appreciate volunteers is to ensure they know exactly what you expect of them. Clear expectations will provide security and confidence in your team members. Ask yourself, “Have they been properly trained to serve? Do they have everything they need? If not, do they know who they can ask?”
3. Make sure volunteers know you care.
Everyone wants to be a part of a community of people who care about them. If your volunteers know you care about them, they will want to keep coming back consistently.
4. Write a personal note or postcard to show appreciation.
There is something about a handwritten note that says, “I appreciate you.” It shows you notice their dedication and efforts for the ministry. Grab some simple postcards and send a thank you to your volunteers for their dedication this school year!
5. Ask good questions.
You may be surprised what you can learn from questions like,
“How can I pray for you?”
“What are you excited about right now?”
“How can I help you win?”
‘What is happening in your small group?”
Not only will you make a personal connection and make the volunteer feel seen, you may learn valuable insight on where they need some extra training or support in your ministry.
6. Remember the stories they tell and follow up with them.
This one seems small, but it goes such a long way! When we actively listen to volunteers, we can remember the parts of the life they share. Then, we can follow up and ask them about their lives.
7. Small $5 gift cards to say thanks.
Everyone loves a treat from a fast food restaurant, local bakery, or coffee shop!
8. Huddle up before Sunday service to pray for volunteers.
This consistent practice really binds your team together and gets everyone on the same page. Use this time to have volunteers share prayer requests, chat, and pray before serving.
9. Reach out to every confirmed “yes” response and every “no” response for your serving schedule.
This shows you notice when they are away and are glad when they come back.
10. Have students write a thank-you note to a volunteer.
A thank you from a child always means a lot. You could send an email to parents in your ministry asking their teens to write a letter to a small group leader or someone who has made an impact on them this year.
When we go out of our way to make each volunteer feel individually important to the team, they will go out of their way in return. What happens when a volunteer goes out of their way for kids’ ministry? Kids’ lives change for the better.