* This article was originally published Kidmin1124. The season for Kidmin1124 has come to an end, so Wayne Stocks has encouraged us to republish our articles on our own site. Kidmin1124 is full of great authors, so I would encourage you to head on over and check out the other contributors before the site is gone forever! **
You work hard in Children’s Ministry, and so do the people around you – your team members. Whether you’re in charge of a volunteer team, or you’re a volunteer yourself, appreciating those around you is always a good move.
Why Show Appreciation?
1) It shows people they are making a difference. In Three Signs of a Miserable Job, author Patrick Lencioni explains one thing that brings drudgery to the workplace is feeling your job doesn’t matter. When you appreciate the volunteers around you, you’re communicating that they count.
2) Everybody needs a pat on the back or a kick in the pants sometimes. Believe it or not, appreciation can accomplish both these tasks. Someone might be feeling insecure and inadequate – appreciation gives them the pat on the back and the encouragement they need. Someone else might be feeling discouraged and insignificant, slightly bitter and ready to throw in the towel – appreciation helps them to see they are part of something bigger than themselves, and helps them get back on track.
3) Appreciation keep things in perspective for you. When you take the time to appreciate those who are helping you, you are forced to see how many people it takes to make a successful ministry. It helps you to see the support you truly have and keeps you from feeling that “you’re in this all alone” feeling.
How to Show Appreciation?
There are many ways to show appreciation, from thank you notes to displays in the church. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Surprise Message – write one on a whiteboard/chalkboard in your volunteer’s room letting them know how much you value them. You could also hand out treats with a little message if your volunteers don’t have their own classrooms (Example: Give them a pack of lifesavers and say “You’re a real life saver in this ministry!”)
- Post-it Recognition – make posters with volunteers names and pictures (separate posters for each person) then hand out post-it notes to kids, congregation members, other church staff people etc. Instruct them to write something special about a volunteer – a certain stand out characteristic they have or something they did that was helpful or meaningful. Then stick the post-note on the appropriate poster.
- Seasonal Splendor – pick something applicable to the season (snowflakes, leaves, rainclouds) and write each volunteer’s name on one before hanging them all together from the ceiling or on a display wall. Write a catchy phrase such as “These volunteers produce a blizzard of fun around here!” Public recognition like this is a great way to boost volunteer spirit.
- Kudos Korner – dedicate a bulletin board to volunteer appreciation. Have forms available at the bulletin board as well as at special events. Encourage kids, parents, other volunteers (and yourself!) to thank a volunteer through the Kudos Korner (idea found at Energize Inc).
- Feed them Spiritually - Find a powerful devotional book and buy it for your volunteers. The best volunteers are those who are actively growing in Christ, so encourage them with some good study material!
- Feed them Physically – Nothing says appreciation like a doughnut! Bring in a special snack for your volunteers once in awhile to say thanks. Make them a coffee station so they can fill up before the mid-week program. Have bottles of water available for when they need it. A little thing that can add up to a big morale boost.
How often should I show appreciation?
This will be different for every ministry, depending on what kind of time you have to devote to “the little extras”. As a rule, I always try to send out thank you notes after a big event (VBS, Fall Fest, Christmas play, etc) within a week of the event ending. In addition to that, it might be nice to do some kind of public recognition two or three times a year. Ideally, you want to do something every quarter, but we all know the ideal doesn’t always happen. Just make sure you’re scheduling a regular time to do it and stick to it. These Team Members work hard and deserve to be appreciated! What are your favorite ways to share your gratitude?