Your programming is nearly complete. The cue sheets are printed. Your rooms are decorated. The holiday playlist is set and your snack bowls are filled with red and green Goldfish. Christmas is coming and you are primed and prepared. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of holiday planning and lose sight of your greatest resource, your volunteers. Here are 9 ways to honor and appreciate those that will serve alongside you this Christmas.
1. Answer questions before they’re asked.
The worship service times are varied. The lesson plan looks different. The number of children in attendance will be nearly double. Christmas is an exciting time of the year for those of us in ministry, but for our teams, it’s also a time of uncertainty. One of the best ways to reassure your volunteers is to answer their questions before doubt begins to creep in. Share your plans and offer encouragement. Provide insight and bring unity before your teams show up to serve.
2. Provide fuel.
Feed them. Your volunteer teams will put in many hours serving and ministering this holiday season. A hungry belly is a distraction easily prevented. Whether you provide snacks, heavy hors d’oeuvres, pizza or a catered meal, keeping your teams well fed is key to a successful serving experience.
3. Give the gift of a memory.
Volunteering during the Christmas season can be a fulfilling experience. Connections are made. Lives are changed and we stand witness. Offer an ornament or framed team picture as a way to look back and remember the impact that was made.
4. Offer strategic break times.
Small groups will be larger than usual, classrooms stretched beyond capacity. Volunteers may be asked to serve longer hours or additional service times. When stress and strain are high, it’s important to offer additional break times to grab a snack or go to the restroom. Schedule an extra volunteer to rotate from classroom to classroom providing well-deserved relief.
5. Connect through prayer and vision.
Everyone on your team has hopes, dreams and desires this holiday season. They may wish for a friend or coworker to attend church for the first time. They may have plans to reunite with family that have grown distant. Some of them are hurting and looking for a reason to smile and celebrate. One of the best ways you can bring unity and show you care is to set expectations, define what a win looks like and connect through prayer for one another.
6. Provide sweet treats and smiles.
A fun and festive atmosphere can make the volunteer experience feel more like an opportunity than a burden. Keep a smile on your volunteers’ faces with a hot chocolate bar or candy buffet offered exclusively to those that serve.
7. Create unforgettable experiences for their children.
It can be difficult to focus when you’re worried about your kids. Consider offering an alternative experience for volunteers’ kids who will be in attendance for multiple experiences. From a Polar Express themed movie hour to a secret Santa shop, the possibilities are endless. We’ll discuss this in further detail on the blog next week.
8. Gift unique and personal presents to leaders.
You may need more volunteers to meet ratios this Christmas season, but you need experienced leaders just to be able to open the doors. A well positioned leader is priceless. With that in mind…it’s time to spend a few dollars. Make sure those that prove the most committed are gifted with something that says, “I thank you. I value you. I know you.”
9. Celebrate success and recognize excellence.
God is going to use your ministry to move in a mighty way this Christmas. If you believe it, you should anticipate celebration. Schedule a time to reflect, share and party! Draw attention to the seasonal victories your ministry has experienced. Offer praise to those God used to make an impact. Whether it’s a dance party or a dinner, take the time to celebrate success and recognize excellence.
In a multisite model, collaboration is key when it comes to efficient care and effective appreciation of volunteers. Buying in bulk saves money. Sharing ideas produces creativity. At the end of the day, your volunteer appreciation budget and care plan may vary from location to location. However, it’s important to understand the strategy is always is the same. If you want to encourage consistency and longevity among your teams, you must clarify the vision, grant the authority to make key decisions at critical moments, and show honor and gratitude for a one’s contribution. Written as a formula it looks like this:
Clarity + Empowerment + Appreciation = Longevity
It’s a busy season, made easier by those that serve alongside you. Your ministry plan for Christmas should begin and end with showing honor and appreciation to volunteers.
I’d love to hear from you. How are you honoring volunteers this holiday season?
I hope you’ll come back every Monday throughout the month of December as we discuss and unpack ministry systems and strategy this holiday season.
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