Of all organizations that celebrate volunteers, we in the Church have the most to celebrate! We celebrate all the time and talents of all God’s people as they are used in his service. So rather than an occasional or annual volunteer-appreciation event, let’s celebrate more often and more broadly. Here’s a simple way to do just that.
Start with a serving theme for the year. CTA has a great selection of themed materials—check them out here. Then pick one activity that can be repeated at least quarterly, or even monthly, perhaps with some variations, during that year.
For example, print simple cards with the theme name and logo on the outside and a blank inside (CTA offers a FREE postcard template here). Include one in each worship bulletin one Sunday and encourage worshippers to write a thank-you note to someone they’ve seen serving in a church ministry. A few months later, do it again and have them thank a volunteer in a community organization. Another time, have them thank someone in their extended family who has gone “above and beyond” in serving.
Pick another serving theme for the next year and do a different activity, such as celebrating areas of ministry in your church. One month, it could be education; another, music; then youth ministry; and so on. For the area you’re celebrating, pray for the volunteers by name in worship, show a slide presentation of the things they do, or host a cake-and-punch reception for them after worship.
Here are more ideas, each of which could be used for repeated activities throughout the year.
- Selfie photos and videos of people serving, shared on your ministry’s social media pages
- Create “I caught you doing good!” cards people can distribute as they see others serving
- Send out a team of “reporters” who seek out and share stories of people who serve
- Give people “serve with me” invitations they can give to their friends
- Have people wear nametags that include where they serve: at church, work, home, extended family, or in the community
- Focus on a spiritual gift each month, highlighting people using those gifts in a variety of ways
Are these volunteer celebrations also recruitment efforts? Yes, seeing how others serve does encourage people to find their own place to serve. But if your activity is in reality a thin cover for “we really need you to volunteer,” people will sniff out the bait-and-switch and tune you out. Let your thanking and celebrating be honest and wholehearted, not a ploy, and people will be more likely to get involved.
Our words and our actions reveal our priorities. If serving is frequently the topic of our conversation and our activities, people know that it’s important; it matters. So celebrate it all year, every year!
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