Unexpressed appreciation comes across as a lack of appreciation.
Our churches are fueled by a series of unsung heroes. These people serve behind the scenes to make a difference in our churches week in and week out, and they often go unseen and unappreciated. The problem with that is that over time, if we don’t express our appreciation for their service and acknowledge their vital role in making church happen, they will not only feel undervalued but also disconnected from the church’s mission.
People move towards people and organizations that show appreciation, and we want to be the kind of leaders that consistently show these unsung heroes that we’re thankful they’re a part of our ministries.
Remember that time someone sent you a surprise thank-you gift? They noticed something you did and then went out of their way to say thank you. What if we took time in the coming month to increase that same feeling across a number of people in our ministries?
Today we’re focusing on five unsung heroes in your church and offering some of our best ideas on how to show them just how much you appreciate their service.
Think about the core team members at your church, whether it’s your staff or elders or lead volunteers. The spouses of those team members are an often invisible support system that serve behind the scenes in powerful ways to help make your ministry happen. Time and time again, I’ve seen that if team members’ spouses aren’t happy with the team’s serving, it becomes difficult for those team members to stay connected. We need to go out of our way to ensure that the spouses of those on our core leadership teams are engaged and feel appreciated for their important support of our ministry.
A great way to show appreciation for team spouses is to have something delivered to their home while the spouse is away serving. During extra busy times of the year, send some flowers or another small gift to your team members’ spouses that acknowledges how important their support and service is to the church.
We may not think of the businesses or organizations whose services we pay for as unsung heroes, but the reality is that many of our churches depend on vendors to make our ministry happen on a practical level.
This could be the cleaning company that comes in on Saturday nights to clean the facility before it opens Sunday morning, or the rental contracts that you have in place for your campus, or the company that cuts your grass in the summertime. These key vendors provide services to you, often at a reasonable price because they know you’re a church. The combination of the services they provide and the price at which they provide them is an important piece of the puzzle that supports your ministry in a really practical way.
Ensure that these vendors know you appreciate their services. One way to show appreciation to key vendors is to celebrate milestones of business with them. If you’ve been using the same lawn maintenance company for five years, send them a thank you card celebrating your five years of a positive working relationship and tell them that you’re so thankful for the great work they do for your church.
Kids Ministry Team
Can I get an amen?
In most churches, the Kids Ministry team represents somewhere around 50% of all the volunteers and these volunteers can often feel unappreciated, especially when serving in spaces apart from the other adults in your church. We need to acknowledge their dedication to serving, notice and encourage the work that they’re doing, and connect their ministry to the wider mission of the church. Kids Ministry is a vital piece of the growth matrix at your church, and ensuring that your team feels appreciated will go a long way as you grow in the coming years.
A wonderful way to show appreciation to the Kids Ministry team at your church is to approve that crazy idea of theirs that you’re not sure is going to work. Oftentimes, Kids Ministry people come up with creative solutions or ideas to make ministry happen. What if you said yes to one of those ideas and then gave them the resources they needed to try it out? The win is all about ensuring that your kids ministry leadership team feels appreciated but also that their gifts are acknowledged and enabled.
Most churches have a small group of donors that give disproportionately to the mission of the church.
These donors supply a large amount of the financial resources that makes the mission possible. While you don’t need to provide special treatment to this group, I do think that you need to ensure they feel appreciated and understand how important their giving is to the mission of the church. Being clear with them about the significance of their impact will help them as they think about generosity in the future.
Over the years, I’ve found that these individuals aren’t looking for a special seat in the auditorium or a plaque on the back of a chair to acknowledge what they’ve done. Instead, a simple way to say thank you to the core donors in your church would be to take them out for a meal and tell them how thankful you are for their contributions. Ask them if they have any questions about the church that you can clarify for them. Oftentimes, these donors will have a few questions around the operation of the church that might help you strengthen what you do.
The people that work at the back of your auditorium to keep the whole operation of your services running smoothly are one of the best examples of uncelebrated teams in the church. Their job is to be unseen, and so by definition, they truly end up being unsung heroes.
In many churches, the tech team only hears from the leadership of the church when things go wrong. What if we thanked this group of unsung heroes when things go exactly how they’re supposed to? What if this coming weekend we called out our tech teams and thanked them for their service? Oftentimes, the tech teams are not looking to be the spotlight, but everyone appreciates an encouraging pat on the back at times.
A straightforward way to show appreciation to tech teams—or any team at your church that seems invisible—is to bring them up front on a Sunday, highlight what they do, and connect their role to the broader vision of the church. Let other people know why the work of this ministry team is so important.
Free Resources to Help You Increase the Appreciation Culture at Your Church
Developing a regular a practice of thanking people is an important piece of any leader’s journey. Finding tools to make it easy to show appreciation and having them close at hand can be a simple way to increase the appreciation culture in your church. Click here to download these editable and printable appreciation postcards. You can add your church logo to each one of these designs and you can then print them at your local print shop or Vistaprint. Have them sitting on your desk, ready to show appreciation to key people as they do things in your ministry. A simple discipline like this can ensure that the appreciation culture at your church continues to grow.