Supporting Volunteer Leaders
As we begin a new “program” year and the start of our education programs, how are you thanking your volunteers? Here are some practices to consider.
1. Begin the year with a “Commissioning Service” at which you identify those involved in this year’s program and ask a special blessing upon them for their ministry.
2. Send leaders to a religious education conference or ask another Christian Education Director from a neighboring congregation to lead a workshop for your leaders.
3. From time to time, send thank-you notes to leaders.
4. As members of your congregation to give a brunch or dinner honoring the teachers.
5. Relieve leaders of duties that are not related to their leading. Ask a volunteer to take juice to the rooms and to collect and wash the pitchers. Ask someone to provide snacks each month. For large groups, as one or two adults (grandparents, parents, singles, etc.) to help each week.
6. Once a quarter, offer soup and sandwiches at your monthly meeting.
7. Once a quarter, arrange for substitutes to lead all groups and serve the regular leaders breakfast.
8. Give leaders the summer off. During the summer, plan inter-age sessions or find parents to take turns leading.
9. Send a monthly newsletter to your leaders. Include encouragement, tips, stories, learner artwork, and photos of various groups at work and play.
10. Express interest. Ask leaders, “How did it go this morning? Anything special that you need?”
11. In your parish hall or gathering area, display artwork and poems created by leaders and their learners.
12. Make connections. If your congregation is building a house through Habitat for Humanity, skip the regular session one Sunday and take a group to visit the site or discuss how Christians respond to the homeless. Adopt “grandparents” for each group among the home-bound in your church; visit them periodically instead of holding your regular class.
13. Write short profiles of each leader for your church newsletter: Here’s a suggested format: Name – birthplace – favorite quote – favorite charity – favorite book – some way the congregation could contribute to the leader’s group.
14. List leaders in the Sunday bulletin from time to time and ask parishioners to pray for them.
15. Give copies of the list of your teachers to those who make hospital, nursing home, or home-bound visits, enabling them to continue to pray for the teachers also.
16. Make a basket for each leader and put “goodies” in the baskets each week. These might include stickers for young children, seasonal games or books borrowed from a Resource Center or library, helpful articles on teaching, or thank-you notes from clergy, other staff, parents, or learners.
17. Subscribe to magazines or periodicals, especially those that provide helpful, practical tips for leaders. If digital, print them out and make them available. Or e-mail them. Some possibilities: Episcopal Teacher, Lifelong Faith Journal, Teaching Tolerance.
18. Periodically recommend or distribute helpful resources to leaders, including books, websites, and organizations that can enhance their work.
What might you add to this list?
Living the Good News is an online lectionary based curriculum. This article is adapted from the materials available to LTGN users on its support, ancillary site.