Volunteers. The priceless, wonderful, selfless people at your church who dive right in to whatever craziness you ask of them. The ones who are there early and who clean up late. The ones, who—no matter how many times they’ve been knocked down—keep showing up! They are key in keeping the church wheels moving.

Most days, we want to shout it from the rooftops. WE. LOVE. VOLUNTEERS! But there are times we get busy and just don’t communicate it well. Saying thank you, well, it’s everything.

It’s all about relationship. Know your volunteers. Affirm their heart for Jesus. Celebrate their influence in your church. Be specific and timely in saying thank you. Everyone is sacrificing something to serve—whether that’s time, money, or energy they could be using for something else. Your appreciation makes all the difference in their world.

There are SO many things we could do. But let’s just focus on 6 Ways to HIGH-FIVE Volunteers.


1. Well-Placed Words HIGH FIVE

The Bible tells us that there is power of life and death in the tongue. SO, LET’S GIVE SOME LIFE! How cool it is that we have the power of LIFE within us? Words don’t have to be elaborate or overwhelming, they just have to be kind.

Dictionary.com defines kindness as “the state or quality of being kind.” My friends, that is mind-blowing. Just kidding! We all know that being kind isn’t hard (for the most part). It’s not overly challenging. It is simple and easy to do. Let’s practice it.

Let’s get practical!

  • Write a thank-you note or email. Simple is enough. Affirmation lifts the spirit and encourages volunteers to keep serving.
  • Make a short video with your phone. Send them a quick “Hey, hey we love you!” You’ll make them smile.

2. Time Together HIGH FIVE

A beautiful principle that has been around since the beginning of time—spending time together!  Time is valuable, especially now. Our time is in high demand. Taking time out of your schedule speaks volumes about how much you care.

I also understand that time is hard to give. Start small. Spend 30 minutes with your team members once a quarter. I promise that once you start investing, you’ll see the benefits.

Let’s get practical!

  • Take your volunteers out for coffee. Spend some time in 1-on-1 conversation to let them know you are there.
  • Do something relaxing or fun with a volunteer. Shoot hoops. Take a walk. Get a manicure.

3. Thoughtful Gift HIGH FIVE

Gifts are cool to give. Thoughtful gifts are even cooler! I mean think about it. You feel loved when someone gives you a gift, no matter the cost. You feel extremely loved when you know the person put time and energy behind a gift specifically for you.

Have you ever had a child draw you a picture? Sometimes it’s an object that you can’t even identify, but it mattered to you. They spent their time, energy, and creativity on something for you. It puts perspective on a lot of things. Children are cool like that.

Let’s get practical!

  • Think of gifts that would matter to them. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, just personal. Birthdays or anytime.
  • Lots of people like to take notes. Give out notebooks with an inscription on the first page: Take Note—I think you’re awesome! Or a kind written word from you!

4. Silly Ideas HIGH FIVE

Have fun! Meaningful relationships are always encouraged, but we don’t have to be super serious all the time. Fun is KEY in building team comradery and excitement. People like to laugh. Right?!

Did you know? Laughter can lower stress and boosts the immune system. Let’s get laughing, people!

Let’s get practical!

  • Pass out lotion or soap with a reminder: The kids are in GOOD HANDS with you!
  • Surprise your volunteers with $5 coffee gift cards and say, Thanks a latte!
  • Who doesn’t love s’mores? Pass them out and let them know, We need s’more like you!
  • Give them a plant (real or fake) and affirm them: Thank you for helping kids grow in God’s love.

5. Group Appreciation Goodness HIGH FIVE

A thankful-for-you message to a volunteer doesn’t always have to be from you as the leader. It can be from the whole group! Yes. Take some pressure off of yourself and spread the wealth. You’ll be surprised at how far this impact will go.

Imagine receiving a piece of paper that has compiled 10 sentences about what people love about you. It would make you realize the impact you were having. It would affirm you as a Christ-follower. It would make you feel part of a community that cares.  It would mean the world to you. Connecting the dots for volunteers encourages their hearts in and for ministry.

Let’s get practical!

  • Give them something from the kids they serve. Have the kids create a picture or tell personal stories about a volunteer who has helped them. Share the stories through letters or video.
  • Get your team members together and have them each write a sentence about a volunteer. Gather the sentences and anonymously put them on a paper titled The Things We Admire About You.

6. Time Away HIGH FIVE

Give them a break! Volunteers are superheroes, yes. BUT they still need a nap every once in a while. Give them a chance to refresh and take a pause. Sometimes a fresh breath of air brings all sorts of new life into a team.

Space for breaks is often hard to do. Start small. Give them a week off. Allow them to be poured into. Some of them may not want a break, but reassure them that taking a breath is okay.

Let’s get practical!

  • Give ‘em a break! What a way to say thank-you—by giving them time for rest.
  • Take them to a conference or a network meeting you attend. Investing in their gifts will encourage them in their ministry.

These 6 ideas are easy and practical for your ministry. Some of them take more time than others but mixing up the thank yous will make a big difference. Volunteers are KEY to your ministry at church. So, take some time, and let them know that THEY. ARE. LOVED!

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

—Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)

Psssst! Did you like this article? Download the free poster from the free resources page on MinistrySpark.com and hang these fun reminders up in your office.

Volunteer Infographic