Many churches have an annual recognition banquet where dinner is served and a standard gift is given to all leaders. I asked my leadership team about this, and many of them felt that was a bit impersonal. Instead of having that once-a-year event where you recognize all of your leaders, why not start encouraging leaders with something brand new?
1. Get to know your leaders personally.
I have a sheet that I require my leaders to fill out when they begin to work in the kids area. It simply asks about some of their favorite things, and helps me to get to know some details about them. Check out this sample here! You may also choose to designate one night a week to have a couple of your volunteers over for dinner. It may take a whole year to have them all over, but they will surely appreciate you making the effort to get to know them.
2. Pray for your leaders.
Ask them weekly how you can be praying for them. Getting this information can be tricky because they will not all reply to your e-mail or text message, and some of your older leaders may actually require a phone call! One strategy I use is to have a check-in sheet in all of their rooms with these 3 questions: “1. What was the best part of your week? 2. What was the worst part of your week? 3. How can I be praying for you?”
The more you are praying for them and following up with them, the quicker that relationship is formed. I keep a prayer journal with a page for each worker. Also, you might send them a letter at the end of the year and remind them of the many answered prayers from the previous year!
3. Encourage your leaders with notes and small gifts.
Believe it or not, a personal card or letter goes a LONG WAY! I try to encourage at least one leader a week by sending them something in the mail. (I try to do this on Tuesday mornings and set aside 30 minutes to write as many as I can.)
Additionally, you could send a small gift. It’s simple! For example, on that info sheet, one of the questions asks the volunteer their favorite snack. I may have that food waiting in their room with a note. Many times they forgot about filling out the form and are amazed that they got their “favorite” snack!
4. Celebrate your leaders!
Instead of the standard speaker-catered dinner affair, I like to have a big party for everyone. Many times it will include tons of games and activities with prizes like gift cards and things I know my leaders like. The goal of these parties is for everyone to have a good time, get to know other workers and their families, and refocus us on doing God’s ministry! Some great venues for the party are tailgates, in a park, pool party, or even a Christmas party at your house. Getting outside the church walls is the key!
No matter what methods you use, the bottom line is that we must make out leaders feel appreciated. In order to do this we need to get to know them and encourage them in the ways that are meaningful for them. . Persistence and intentionally are keys to building a great team, whether you are leading 5 or 500 people. Encourage them and they will be your best workers!
About the Guest Blogger:
Evan Dickson is the Preschool & Children’s Minister at Concord Baptist Church in Anderson, SC, and a professor of Children’s Ministry at Anderson University. He has served as a CentriKid Camp Pastor and Director. He’s been involved in kids ministry for over 15, and is passionate about communicating the gospel to kids in a creative way to help them grow in their relationship with him. He is married to his wife Liza, and they have an 8 year old son, Noah, and a 5 year old daughter, Lainey.