Motivation: Appreciating Volunteers
Four tips to let your volunteers know you appreciate them being on the team.
If your ministry is effective, it will grow. When it grows, you'll want (and need) to bring other people alongside you to help teach and lead. Maybe you'll divide your group into smaller groups and need leaders, or perhaps you'll just involve volunteers in events and trips. Youth Ministry is not meant to be done alone. Bringing people alongside doesn't only help the ministry, it's fun! Being a part of an effective team can be very rewarding.
As the leader of that team, it is important that volunteers feel appreciated. After working for many years with volunteers, here are some tips I'd give to make sure they are on board for the long haul.
1. Appreciate them with Communication
If someone is volunteering their time to assist in ministry, the least you can do is make sure you keep them up to speed on everything going on in that ministry. Most volunteers are not frustrated by things they know, but by what they don't know. Sending e-mails, texts, and taking volunteers to lunch is a great way to keep them in the loop. And if they're in the loop, they feel like they matter.
2. Appreciate them with Gifts
Some of you are volunteer youth workers yourselves. You know the demands on a volunteer! They have families, full-time jobs, and other responsibilities. But some of you are paid, and you need to be reminded that your volunteers are spending their own money on trips, taking their free time to help out, and being inconvenienced in any number of ways. Most of them are glad to do so. But why not give them a gift of appreciation? You don't need to bribe them to show up every week, but what about a birthday card with a gift certificate? How about a small token of your appreciation at Christmas? Or taking your whole team out for ice cream after your weekly youth meetings just to say thanks. In doing so, you don't only give them a gift of stuff, you give them a gift of your time—a gift they give you week in and week out.
3. Appreciate them with Rest
Volunteers work hard! When you can, give them the night off. If you operate on a seasonal schedule, give a teacher the summer off. Some volunteers are over-achievers and will want to be at everything you do. These kind of volunteers need to be told to take a night off. Rest is important for longevity, and as a leader of a ministry, you can appreciate your volunteers by giving them some rest.
4. Appreciate them with Training
Every volunteer wants to know how to do what they do better. Whenever you are able, give them training that will help them do just that. Perhaps it is as simple as e-mailing them a teaching tip from http://www.teensundayschool.com/. Maybe you can take them to a training event in your area, or invite another youth minister from your town to come and discuss ministry together. Any way you can, invest in your team. It is a great way to appreciate them.
5. Appreciate them to Others
Make sure others know you appreciate your volunteers. By talking well about your team to parents, staff, and the congregation, you build a positive culture of appreciation which is great for your whole church family. It is also a practical way of recognizing that you couldn't do this great work without the help of other great people.