As fall winds down and Thanksgiving approaches, we often begin to think about all the things we are thankful for. We probably begin our list with something like this: God, family, friends, health, etc. Those are all important things to be thankful for and deserve to be at the top of the list! But as Kids’ Ministry leaders, we should include something else on this list - VOLUNTEERS! We couldn’t do what we do without them!
I bet if you were asked if you were thankful for what your volunteers do, you would say “Absolutely! I couldn’t do it without them!” My next questions would be, “How do they know that you’re thankful?”
You can feel thankful all day long but until you express it, no one knows. Unfortunately, sometimes when we fail to express our thankfulness, people fill in the gap and believe that we’re not thankful.
In Kidamazoo Studios, we are very intentional on how we thank our volunteers. Our Kids’ Ministry staff will sit down each year to brainstorm ideas about how we can thank our volunteers for all they do. We create an annual plan to let our volunteers know how thankful we are to have them on our team. The plan doesn’t have to be expensive or complex, that’s not what it’s all about. The bottom line is that we have a plan. We put it on the calendar. We include it the budget. We say thank you! You’d be surprised just how powerful those two little words are!
Here are a few ideas of things we’ve done in the past:
Treat’em Rights: We usually do these quarterly. We deck out a room and invite all of the kids volunteers to come in either before or after they serve to get a special treat. We went all out on our last Treat’em Right and hosted what we called “Malt Shop Mania” We decorated the room as a 50’s malt shop and served our volunteers ice cream sundaes before and after service!
Handwritten Thank You Notes: Words can go a long way! We strive to write at least 10 thank you notes to different volunteers every week. We’re specific and always reference something that we noticed that a volunteer did to go the extra mile. General is good, but specific is best!
Surprise a Volunteer With Their Favorites: When we have a new kids ministry volunteer, we have them fill out a sheet called “Getting to Know You”. On this sheet, we ask them many of their “favorites”. We look at those sheets regularly and love to surprise our volunteers with their favorite sweet treat or a gift card to their favorite restaurant!
Plan a Group Outing: We have had picnics in the park where volunteers and their families can come and have fun with other volunteers!
Celebrate Their Birthday: We, as a staff, send our volunteers a birthday card in the mail! We also are diligent to show them some social media love if they are on Facebook or Twitter!
We’ve learned that the most important thing that we can do is to thank our volunteers and express our love and appreciation for them in tangible and heartfelt ways. At the end of the day, I believe that God honors that and that is one of the reasons he continues to entrust us with His people who are so willing to serve His children!