One thing that I love about my ministry story is that I served as a high capacity volunteer for years before I went into ministry. Not long after I came on as a paid staff member, I was at a meeting with all the people that served in our Family Ministry. The meeting included staff from kids ministry, middle school, high school, and our family pastor at the time.

small group leaders

Our family pastor was talking about the mandatory expectations that he had for small group leaders to be at some extra curricular events. He was wanting to institute a rule where if the small group leader didn’t attend our family events, then they would be asked to step down. As someone who had recently been a volunteer, I was able to quickly say, “Are you crazy? Have you ever actually been a volunteer? Not a volunteer aspiring to be a pastor, but a believer with a super full life who simply wants to serve where they can?”

high expectations

I think having high expectations for a volunteer is a good thing. High expectations give people something to aspire too. However, this has to be done within the parameters of deep love, appreciation, and concern for what the volunteer already does on a weekly basis. In that meeting I was able to say that as someone who had just recently been a high capacity volunteer, I felt like the additional expectations he was trying to set were unrealistic.

When I served as a volunteer, I hosted and lead one of the KidMin large group experiences at the Rock Church in San Diego. In the summer, I wrote and directed all the dramas for their Camp Rock VBS style event, and showed up every week faithfully and consistently. I was totally committed to my church, but I was also really busy.

At that time I was also a teacher, grad school student, and a wife who had a really full social life outside of church. I was also involved in a small group at church and served on the weekend. If there had been additional events I was required to attend, I am quite positive I would have considered stepping down.

the sweet spot

Busy people like to be busy, but there is a sweet spot for what you can expect from your volunteers. In addition to that, people are much happier to be somewhere when they come by choice. When people feel valued, loved, and appreciated they will likely show up by choice because they are a part of something that has meaning to them.

Today I want to talk about some free or nearly free things that you can do for your volunteers to totally wow them. These types of expressions will help deepen their loyalty and passion to serve God and your ministry.

If you are honoring them, they will honor you back. Instead of putting more rules on volunteers, let’s put more love on them, and watch how they surpass our expectations.

I’ve compiled 20 ways you can totally wow your volunteers, and this is just the beginning of all you could do.

20 ways to wow your volunteers


Writing a custom thank you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram that highlights a specific volunteer or shows a photo of them engaged in their volunteer position from that weekend.


Call or text message your volunteer after a weekend service to say thank you. You can also point out some specific way their work was awesome.


Create a system where your ministry or church honors a “Volunteer of the Month or Week”. Highlight the volunteer in a volunteer rally, or on social media and let everyone know why they are awesome.


Create a personal shuttle service to and from the church to the car of your, ‘Volunteer of the Month’ or do this for all your volunteers if you are able to.


Allow your ‘Volunteer of the Month’ to have lunch with the Lead Pastor or a similar ministry leader.


Give your volunteers one Sunday or weekend, off.


Have a cookout where everyone just hangs out and has a great time.


Honor your volunteers on their birthday by giving them a birthday hat, button or creating a dollar train (this is where you pin a dollar to someone’s shirt and everyone adds a dollar, so it creates a train look).


Pray for your volunteers before their serve time, one-on-one as time allows.


Find out the favorite candy of each of your volunteers. Each week bring candy for one volunteer until you have reached everyone in your ministry. Then start over!


Capture video on your smart phone of your volunteers serving in their position and send it to them in a text message after service.


Have a game night for all your volunteers and have a cool prize for the winner. Everybody loves SWAG.


Give your volunteers a Valentine’s Day card with a fun goody.


Have some people from the worship team go around each weekend and give a singing telegram to one volunteer that has totally earned some extra love.


Bring cupcakes or a cookie cake for your volunteers’ birthday for everyone to share. You could also bring a single cupcake just for them.


Color code the lanyard of your volunteer ID badges to represent how many years each person has served in ministry at your church. Have every ministry do this, so everyone knows what the colors mean.


Give out free treats or specialty beverages at your church’s cafe to volunteers who show up early or go above and beyond expectation. If you don’t have a cafe, you can always give a gift card to a local shop.


Have a trophy that gets passed around each week that is awarded to the volunteer caught going above and beyond their duties.


Give a volunteer a backstage pass to the main service green room. Allow them to have access to everything behind the scenes (include snacks!)


Have a volunteer thank you event with food and fun. Whatever you do, do not run out of food, and of course make sure to have fun, lots of FUN!

These are just a few ways you can honor your volunteers. The point is that loyalty can be achieved through strict rules, but it’s given freely through love. So love your volunteers this week and show them you care.

The entire culture of your church could be different if you adopted just one of these ideas church wide. Imagine your church had a branded birthday hat, and every single volunteer in every ministry wore it on their birthday. Think of how much love that person would get and how much more fun people would have, or imagine allowing a volunteer to have lunch with your Lead Pastor, a lot of people would covet such a small opportunity.

If your church has a strong culture, come up with your own list. The point is simple, do something that celebrates your volunteers. Little changes can have large effects. So consider making some little changes today.

20 ways to wow your volunteers
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Stacia Stall

Stacia Stall

Chief Creative Officer

Stacia has over a decade of ministry experience, with the majority of that time leading next generation change. She has experience leading almost one hundred volunteers, and developing curriculum for kids and students. Stacia has a B.S. in Church Ministries and Biblical Studies, as well as experience educating in an elementary public school environment. She is also immensely creative and accomplished in teaching children about the wonder of God.