Ten Effective Ways To Show Appreciation To Your Volunteers


Leading a volunteer ministry can be difficult.  Volunteers sacrifice their time away from their families, their jobs, and their other responsibilities and interests.  They are not required to stick with you or your kids ministry, so you want to make sure that you are proactive in showing them your appreciation.

Here are ten effective ways you can show appreciation to your volunteers:

1.  Say it publicly
Every opportunity you have: in a meeting, in front of the kids, in front of the church, in whatever public setting you are in – brag on your team.  Thank them for their tireless efforts in reaching kids for the Kingdom.

2.  Say it privately
Take your volunteers to lunch periodically (keep a list and work down the list in a strategic way).  Tell them honestly and clearly what they mean to you and the kids ministry.  Be specific.

3.  Say it creatively
Leave them a short note on the counter in their classroom or area of ministry with a creative twist.  Example:  a $5 Starbucks gift card with a note that says “Thanks A Latte!”  (For lots of creative ideas like this, check out this post)

4.  Say it sincerely
Sit down and write them a card that details the reasons why they, individually, are invaluable to the team.  Cite a specific instance you have witnessed recently of how they have made an impact in the life of a kid.

5.  Say it digitally
Send them an unexpected text, email, or Facebook message that says, “Just wanted you to know I am thankful to have you on our Kids Ministry team!”

6.  Celebrate their birthday
Send them a card, show up at their door with a “Happy Birthday” singing flash mob, whatever!  People love to be honored on their special day!

7.  Equip them
Buy them a book or resource that you know will make them better at their ministry position.  Write a note in the front cover to let them know you appreciate their commitment to growth.

8.  Feed them
Invite the team over to your house for a BBQ.  Make it a fun game night.  Don’t have a “meeting” or have an “agenda.”  Make your agenda celebrating the team and showing your love and appreciation.

9.  Photograph them
Take a picture of them serving in their area of ministry.  Print it and write a note on the back.  You could even have some of the kids in their class/ministry sign the back.

10.  Pray for them
Spend time praying for them.  Find out their spiritual needs and bring those before the Father.  Then, send a quick text or a note that says, “Just wanted you to know that I prayed for you today.  Thanking our Heavenly Father for sending you to our Kids Ministry Team.”

What about you?  What are some effective ways you have used to show appreciation for your volunteers?  Share some of your ideas in the comments section.  You will help a lot of folks in the Kidmin Community.

Thinking For A Change

Some of us haven’t made any changes to the way we approach our ministry in a long time.  If you are still doing ministry the way you were the first year you started, then it’s time to think differently.   “Thinking For A Change” takes some intentional focus.  Here are a couple of thoughts to help you become a better thinker…

How to be a better thinker:

1.    Set aside thinking time.

You will never be a good thinker unless you plan to.  You need to set aside time in your schedule that is distraction-free.  Take the time to think through and pray through all the different strategies you are implementing in ministry.  Ask God to give you a fresh perspective about these strategies.  Some may require tweaking.  Others may require overhaul.  One thing is for sure, you will never “fall into” thinking time.  It has to be scheduled and planned.

2.    Spend time with good thinkers.

Are there some great thinkers in your church?  Maybe they are business people, but God has gifted them with great thinking skills.  Are there Kids Ministers in your area that you respect?  Listen to how they process things.  Analyze the way they attack issues and difficulties.  It will stretch your ability to think.

For example – if you are a bad golfer, you don’t choose to play with guys that are as bad as you.  You know you will never learn anything.  Instead, you try to talk a couple of good golfers to let you tag along their foursome.  You try your best to pick up their habits and approaches.  It’s the same with thinking skills.

Find a good thinker:  ask them what they see, watch who they hang around, they don’t always act like they have the answer.  When they don’t know the answer, they go search and find someone who does.  Do the same thing.

3.    When you are with a good thinker, ask “WHY” they do what they do.

The person who wants to be a doer (task oriented) will ask “what do you do?”  The person who wants to be a learner asks “Why do you do what you do?”  It’s all about knowing what you don’t know.

Who are the thinkers that you can learn from?  Call them or email them this week.  Set up a time to meet with them.  Ask God to guide the conversation.  It’s time to THINK for a change!

How Do You Handle Leaders Who Lack Energy?

Everything can be improved with increased energy.  Nobody wants to hear a song, listen to a lesson, or participate in a class where the leader looks bored, irritated, or wishes they were somewhere else.

If you are a full-time Kidmin Pastor/Leader you know that you have NO EXCUSE not to have energy on Sundays (or whenever ministry takes place for you).  However, some of our Kidmin Volunteers struggle with this.  They work 5 days a week, run like crazy for their families on Saturday, and on Sunday it is tough to have the energy they need to make a great experience for the kids.

If you ever need to encourage your team and help them understand the importance of having energy during ministry time, consider teaching them the following principles:

How To Increase Energy

1.  Realize what’s at stake

SOULS!  We want these kids to see us excited about God’s word, worship, and serving others.  The level of passion we have will determine the level of passion THEY have.

2.  Take responsibility for your own energy

Too many people wait to be pumped up by situations or persons.  Take responsibility for your own energy.  Don’t wait for the right speech from your leader or for someone to “push the right button” for you to get pumped up.

Ben Franklin said, “The quality of your life is your gift to yourself.”

If you wait for someone else to strike up your energy before you do anything, then life will pass you by.

3.  Act your way into feeling

Stephen Covey said, “Right decisions will eventually bring about right emotions.”

Don’t wait until you feel right to do right.  Do right and you will feel right.  “Fake it ‘till you make it!”

Socrates said, “Assume a virtue if you have it not!”  Fake joy is better than genuine depression any day!  A passionate person with limited talent will outperform a passive person who possesses greater talent.

4.  GET ON YOUR KNEES.

The absolute best way to be infused with energy is to spend time on your knees in prayer.  Don’t rely on your own energy, ask God for HIS energy.

“To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” – Colossians 1:29

When you are accomplishing GOD’S PURPOSE with GOD’S POWER, then you possess true renewable energy.

Are You An Insecure Leader?

Security is the main ingredient of healthy relationships.  You need healthy relationships with others in order to fulfill the call God has placed on your life.  As a Kids Ministry Leader, your goal is to raise up others to join you in the vision of raising the next generation of life-long followers of Christ.  If you are not secure in who you are and who God has created you to be, you will (consciously or not) poison your relationships with the people God puts around you. 

My pastor, Rod Loy, challenged us last week in our staff meeting to evaluate whether or not we are Secure or Insecure Leaders.  Here is part of a grid he provided for us:

Insecure Leader – when someone else succeeds, they divert credit to themselves

Secure Leader – gives credit away to others.

Insecure Leader – surrounds themselves with weaker people because they have an inner need to be adored

Secure Leader – is comfortable with the strengths of others and surround themselves with strong leaders

Insecure Leader – when evaluating themselves, they only see weaknesses

Secure Leader – they know their weaknesses exist, but they are not crippled by them

Insecure Leader – evaluate by “how do I compare to others?”

Secure Leader – evaluate themselves by “how am I doing right now?”

Insecure Leader – can’t laugh at themselves

Secure Leader – laugh at their mistakes, seeing them as another opportunity to learn

Insecure Leader – resists evaluation (they have inextricably connected their performance with their self-worth)

Secure Leader – embraces evaluation as an opportunity to grow

Insecure Leader – they are very hard on others who make mistakes

Secure Leader – more patient with other people and with their growth process

Insecure Leader – may enjoy success for a season

Secure Leader – will enjoy success for a lifetime

Insecure Leader – says “Blessings are to be enjoyed by me!”

Secure Leader – asks “How many blessings can I share?”

Insecure Leader – produces insecure followers

Secure Leader – produces other secure leaders

So, are you a Secure Leader or an Insecure Leader?  It’s not too late to change course:

1)  Learn to see yourself the way God sees you.

2)  Hang around secure leaders and friends.

3)  Recognize when reactions are based on insecurity.  Retrain yourself away from those reactions.

4)  Ask God to help you become more secure in Him so that you can build a team of Secure Leaders to help you reach this generation and advance the cause of Christ!

The more secure you are, the better leader you will be.

Happy Birthday!

Today, BRIAN’S BLOG turns 1 year old!  It was on August 1, 2011 that I posted my first “real” post.  Since then, I have watched God do many great things through this.  I have heard from many of the readers of the blog how a post has inspired, challenged, or changed you in some way.  I am very grateful for this opportunity.

My goal has always been to encourage and equip other Kidmin Leaders to increase their capacity to lead their teams, parents, and kids.  I appreciate all of you who are a part of this journey!

Wanna help?  Here are a couple of things you can do to help get the word out…

1)  Leave Comments.  – It doesn’t take long, and they don’t have to be wordy.  When you leave a comment you encourage others, show that you are reading, and help me see which posts are most effective.

2)  Ask A Question.  – When I began this blog, it was my desire to address topics that YOU are interested in – not just share my own thoughts.  I depend on each of you to spark conversation by asking questions about leadership, organization, ministry philosophy, or opinions on hot topics.  You can ask your question by filling out the form on this page of the blog.  If your question is used, you are given a $25 coupon to High Voltage Kids Ministry Web Store.

3)  Share A Post. – When you read something that is helpful, share it.  Click on the Facebook or Twitter SHARE buttons at the bottom of the post and post it to your wall.  This allows us to reach a MUCH bigger audience.  You never know – your friends may subscribe.

4)  Talk about BRIAN’S BLOG (www.briandollar.com)  – On Social Media, in an email, at a networking lunch, or at a conference – talk about BRIAN’S BLOG (briandollar.com) and how it has helped you be a better Kidmin Leader.  Talk about what we’ve learned and discussed.  YOU are the best advertisement this blog could ever get!

To help give you an incentive, I am giving away a free copy of my book, “I Blew It!” to one lucky person who leaves a comment this week.  Winner will be chosen by random draw on August 5th.

Thanks, again, for a great year!  I am so glad that I started this process.  It has been so rewarding for me.  I hope it has and continues to be for you.  God bless!

Six Questions To Ask Before Implementing A New Idea (pt 3)

And now, the exciting conclusion to the blog post series, “Six Questions To Ask Yourself Before Implementing A New Idea In Your Kids Ministry.”  Here’s what we covered in pt. 1 and pt. 2 of the series:

1)  “Have I Prayed About It?”

2)  “What Does My Pastor Think About The Idea?”

3)  “Does The Idea Resonate With The Hearts Of My Team?”

4)  “Do I Have The Support Of The Parents In My Ministry?”

QUESTION #5 – “Do I need God’s power to accomplish this idea?”

This is perhaps the most important question to ask yourself as you evaluate whether the idea is a “God idea” or just another good idea.  If you can accomplish the plan without God’s power and without God’s anointing, it’s probably not His idea.

God’s ideas always require God’s ability.  If you can do it on your own, go back to the Lord and ask Him for direction.  This doesn’t mean that every impossible, crazy idea is necessarily from God.  That’s the wrong conclusion!  We need to have a balance of wisdom and faith—it’s not one or the other; both are required for good leadership.

QUESTION #6 – “If this idea succeeds, who will get the glory?”

As I have planned many ideas in the past, I was thinking, Man, when this thing is a huge success, people are going to think I’m the smartest guy around. Other children’s pastors are going to ask me for my planning notebook so they can pull off their own event like this. This is going to rock!

My plan to take all the credit for success was a clear indication that it wasn’t a “God idea” at all.  When people have trusted God for an idea, a plan, and success, they realize God is the source of every good thing, and he deserves the credit.  Pursue God’s ideas, and be prepared to give Him the glory.  After all, He’s the originator, not you.  He’s the creator, not you.  He is the author and finisher, not you.  He deserves the glory, not you.

Share your thoughts in the comment section.  I will pick a winner from the comments at the end of the week – winner gets a $25 web coupon to High Voltage Kids Ministry Resources.

Six Questions To Ask Before Implementing A New Idea (pt. 2)

In my last post, I shared the first two of the Six Questions to ask yourself before implementing a new idea in your Kids Ministry:

1)  “Have I Prayed About It?”

2)  “What Does My Pastor Think About The Idea?”

Now, we continue with Questions 3 & 4:

QUESTION #3 – “Does the idea resonate with the hearts of my team?”

After your pastor gives you the go-ahead, consult with your ministry team.  These people have the same passion as yours to impact the lives of the children in your church and community.  Share the plan with them while your idea is still in its early stages.  Don’t wait until you have the entire strategy fleshed out before you bring it to the team for feedback. The longer you work on an idea before you present it, the less likely you’re going to be willing to change course.  If leaders develop a plan too far before they talk to their teams, they can become emotionally invested in an idea and refuse to listen to any suggestions. When they don’t listen to their team members, trust erodes.

I remember when I thought I had a great idea for a Halloween outreach.  I wanted to call it “The Candy Factory.”  It was going to provide a full array of experiences, entertainment, fun, and best of all . . . candy!  I worked on the idea for weeks and weeks before I brought it to the team.  When I finally presented it to them, they immediately had questions about it.  They questioned the plans, the schedule, the execution, and the very idea itself.  I became defensive.  I’d worked several weeks on it, and this was my baby!  How dare they question an idea in which I had invested so much time!

If the members of your team—the people whose hearts are aligned with yours and who care as much about kids as you do—believe the idea stinks, you better listen to them.

QUESTION #4 – “Do I have the support of the parents in my ministry?”

This question applies especially to those who are young in ministry and have no children of their own.  It is easy for young singles or couples without kids to miss red flags that are obvious to parents.  Checking with them before an event can save you lots of headaches in the long run.

Many of you have read about the infamous Easter Egg Hunt that ended up in disaster (for the full story, get my book “I Blew It!”).  I planned an egg hunt for pre-schoolers on a steep drainage ditch and gave them Atomic Fireballs in their eggs.  If I’d taken a few minutes to talk to parents before the Easter Egg Hunt, they would have told me that it’s inappropriate to have Atomic Fireballs and jawbreakers in plastic eggs on steep hillsides with big rocks for an event for preschoolers (or anyone else for that matter).  They would have spoken up.  They would have told me the hard, cold truth, and I would have seen that it was an idiotic idea to hold a preschool egg hunt on Drainage Ditch Hill.  Parents would have looked me in the eye and told me, “Pastor Brian, the children will choke on those Atomic Fireballs. Are you insane?”

But it didn’t cross my mind to ask any of the parents. Solomon advises us (me especially), “With many counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14 NLT).

(CLICK HERE FOR PART 3)