The Power of Appreciation

Early in my ministry I reached a point where I was ready to give up.  The ministry was growing, new kids were coming, and attendance was up week after week.  What a horrible problem, right?

The problem was, as kids attendance increased, the number of volunteers quitting increased just as fast.

When you’re adding kids and losing leaders, you have a recipe for disaster.  I realized that something needed to change. I was beginning to doubt my abilities, worse yet; I started to doubt my calling.  Maybe I was not cut out for ministry.

My problem was, I was so focused on adding new volunteers that I didn’t give much thought to the ones who were already committed, already trained, already serving in the trenches.

I was missing what I know now is the most important piece to team building; volunteer appreciation.  

Following are 7 tips for volunteer appreciation.

  1. Honor your volunteers

  • Make them feel special and thank them often for serving.
  • Go out of your way to greet them, thank them every time they serve.
  • Know about their lives and engage them about the things that matter to them.
  • Speak highly of them to the leadership above you.
  • Brag about them in front of their peers and family.
  1. Invest in your team

  • Look for ways to make their job easier.
  • Look for opportunities to bless them personally.
  • Call them on their birthday.
  • Comment on their new hair-do.
  • Spend time with them outside of church.
  1. Catch them doing right and recognize them for it

  • Write your volunteers hand written notes, let them know you are praying for them and you value their contribution.  Check out the post, The Power of a handwritten note.  
  • Call and text your volunteers. Not to ask for something, just to say thank you.
  • Honor your volunteers on social media.
  • Recognize them publicly.
  1. Always assume the best

  • Defend your volunteers at all costs and have their back. If you hear someone complaining about something one of your volunteers did, rise to their defense. Create a culture of having your volunteers back.
  1. Require them to take time off

  • Create a culture that allows volunteers to take vacation and take time off.
  • Make sure your volunteers attend church services.
  1. Invest in their entire family.

  • If they have kids make them feel special.
  • If they are married, make sure their spouse knows how awesome they are.
  1. Hold appreciation Events.

  • Hold an annual volunteer banquet.
  • Create events just for the sake of fun.
  • Invite your volunteers to your home, out to dinner, or to coffee just to say thank you. No other agenda other than appreciation.

By creating a culture of appreciation, you will transform your entire ministry. Set a goal that your department is going to become known for how you appreciate volunteers. If you do, you will never have a shortage of leaders.

Question: What do you do to appreciate your volunteers? What would you add to this list?

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About the Author

Andrew VanDerLinden

Andrew is the Executive Pastor at Community Church in Eastern PA.

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