Giving Your Volunteers a YouTube-Worthy Thank You
I love grand gestures. I was definitely that girl who watched the massive proposal videos on YouTube; you know the ones. The big flash mob craze was my favorite. All that planning and effort for one person. Her boyfriend studies her, her favorite colors, her favorite song, her favorite scenes in rom-coms, her favorite place in the city, and all that information is gathered together to tailor the perfect proposal where she feels like the most important person in the entire world. The soon-to-be fiancée just beams, in fact, sometimes she is so overwhelmed by the specialness of it all that she cries. I am a firm believer that we all deserve to feel that special! Thankfully, Christian environments are great places to foster that! After all, we have a Father in heaven who loves us so much that He performed the ultimate grand gesture of sending His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins to save us.
So here is my challenge for you. Give your staff/volunteers their YouTube-worthy moment. You might already have an end-of-year Christmas party planned, and it's probably going to be super fun. But I am going to challenge you to step it up to make your staff/volunteers feel more seen and more special than they ever have. And here’s how: study your volunteers and tailor something special for each one of them. You might have a small or large ministry, but I believe you can do this no matter your size.
I have one simple step for this: pick a theme for the whole group and then individualize it. I was in a ministry one year that decided to replicate the tv show “The Office” with their Dundee awards. Our ministry was called Renewal, so we had the “Renewalies.” During our yearly staff appreciation dinner, they decided to create a Renewalies award specific for each volunteer and announce it “Michael Scott style.” We had 4 youth staff that divided the volunteers' names among them and chose something fun to award them. And for each award, they tied along a heartfelt short speech. Even though, at the time, I wasn’t super familiar with The Office, I loved the moment when they announced my own individual award that was specific to just me. I felt so seen and so loved.
I know I gave you one simple step yet did not leave you with a simple task. This takes lots of work. Lots of recon. Maybe for some of your volunteers, this is quite easy. You can think of many things that make that volunteer stand out. But then again, maybe you have one or two volunteers that you just have no idea. They have a nice personality? Or They always show up on time? Good! I'm glad it's harder for you to think of something for this person. Because now you get the awesome opportunity to learn so much about them. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from other staff. Someone else might see something you hadn’t seen; just be discreet.
You can do this anytime. It seems natural to do it at the end of the year when everything is wrapping up and fun, celebratory parties are everywhere. But this could work just as well a few weeks after your big youth camp that all your staff has worked extra hard to put on. Or, like a great proposal, it can be planned for a time when they least expect it. This type of celebration became such a regular thing in our youth ministry that when it came down to my boyfriend finally proposing, he completely surprised me in the middle of our staff appreciation hangout with a great grand proposal. It was so special, and I definitely ugly cried.
A heartfelt “I see you” could be just the thing to breathe life and excitement into staff, volunteers, and ministries.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- How do you currently celebrate your volunteers? Do you think you could do more?
- What would it look like for you to personalize awards or celebrations for all of your volunteers?
Help your students and the adults in your church make a difference in the lives of others with Volunteer Accelerator: Youth Ministry Edition!
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