VBS Volunteer Appreciation Tips

VBS Volunteer Appreciation

There are many qualities you might look for in your volunteer team or staff. Qualities such as their love for Christ, commitment, loyalty, fun, team player, creative, problem solver, or willing. But one quality often left off that list is ‘appreciated’. A quality you as the pastor or leader have direct impact on.

Ask yourself this question honestly: does your team feel appreciated? An under-appreciated team member may become disgruntled, feel their work does not matter, may underperform or give just barely enough. They may even be bitter or difficult to work with and ultimately, they may not stick around for long.

On the other side of the coin, an appreciated team member, a team member that feels valued and feels their contribution is noticed, understands they are part of a bigger picture. Such team members are not only a joy to serve with, but their service has a greater impact.

So, what are some ways you can show your deep appreciation for your team? I’m happy you asked. I’ve got a few ideas for you to take and use in your own church. Or perhaps my thoughts will spark a different idea in your mind! That’s one of the beautiful things about collaborating on ideas… it gets creative juices flowing for everyone!

Tip #1 Write thank you notes 

Download FREE Thank You Postcards Here! 

Ok, yes I know. Simple. A no brainer idea. But in a world that is mostly digital and fast paced, receiving a thank you note in the mail with a handwritten message is powerful. Set out time in your calendar to once a month or once a quarter write out thank you cards to members of your team appreciating them for their service. Highlight something specific you’ve seen them do or a character attribute you see in them to make it extra personal.

Tip #2 Take advantage of holidays on the calendar

New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, first day of fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are some of the times in the year when you can use the holiday to say thank-you. Deposit seeds of appreciation all throughout the year to your VBS team. Some ideas:

  1. Valentine’s Day: ‘Thank you for making this team great!’ – include a small treat.
  2. Easter: A chocolate bunny with a note that says, ‘there is no bunny like you on this team – thanks for serving during Easter!’
  3. 4th of July: A sparkler or glow in the dark necklace with a note that says, ‘you make our team sparkle!’

You get the idea – have fun – search out Pinterest and creatively say thank you to your team. You’ll communicate they are valued and make them smile.

Tip #3 Volunteer Appreciation Meal

This can be cheap or elaborate depending on your budget. When I was a children’s pastor we did a ‘breakfast for dinner’ thank you dinner with our team. It was a blast. We had big griddles for pancakes, eggs, & bacon – a waffle station, fruit, coffee and juice. During the meal we played games, laughed and got to know each other more. As our time concluded I publicly honored each team member by sharing a quality they possessed and thanking them. For months after, my team told me how much it meant to them to be publicly affirmed. This was a cheap event to pull off that had a big impact.

Tip #4 Create rhythms in their service to your team

I fully believe ministry life is less about balance and more about rhythms. There are seasons that are just flat out busy and there is no way around it. Easter, VBS season, Christmas are times when we give a lot and we ask our teams to give a lot. After busy seasons, work in a season of rest. This is good for your personal life and it’s good for the life of the church. There is this pressure to keep things rolling at a fast pace ALL the time but it’s just not sustainable. Build rhythms of rest into your culture. That might look like scheduling time off for your regular volunteers

Tip #5 Care about who your team members are as people… more than what they do for you! 

This is a really important way to appreciate your team. Take the time to develop your team. Invest in their character, in their personal walk with the Lord, in their family. This takes time on your part but the pay-off is worth it. The goal should never just be to get volunteers to carry out your vision. The goal should be to carry out the vision of the church while simultaneously developing those on your team. It’s not either or but it’s both.

Tip #6 Volunteer of Month 

Utilize social media or your team e-newsletter to highlight a volunteer of the month or week, depending on the size of your volunteer team. When you highlight them, share their picture, how long they have served, a specific thing you appreciate about them, and then maybe a fun fact. Two things are accomplished here: your team member feels valued AND other volunteers learn a little about their peer.

Good luck as you create a culture of appreciation with your team! Be assured, the work is worth it! Appreciated people are some of the best people to work with.


– Article by Holly Trewern, Church & VBS Product Editor at Christianbook 


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