By: Matt Coppess

Chances are you really need your volunteers.  Hopefully you can see the impact they have had on students.  No matter their role, age, and ability, we should greatly appreciate our volunteers and the irreplaceable impact they have on teens for Christ.

Other than cutting them a huge check, how do we adequately express our thanks?  The end of the school year seems like a great time to do something special for the group, and we should.  We have always tried to do some special FREE event for them to enjoy as a team.  We strive to build "missional community," a fun FREE event (see list below) aligns well with this goal.  Make sure to recognize everyone's contribution at the event, noting years of service and special achievements (such as running their own small group, successfully completing Alumni Leadership or an internship, leading a teen to Christ one-on-one, meeting and surpassing RMA goals).  Depending on size, you can do this chapter-wide or just with your ministry site team (ideally you could do both).

FREE event ideas (note free event means free to them, not necessarily free to us)   
Putt Putt Golf tournament
Cosmic Bowling
BBQ/Cookout with softball/ultimate Frisbee/ kickball game
Whirly Ball (if you don't know what that is, look it up)
Outdoor movie night & Bonfire
Pizza and Game night
Beach/Lake day
Anything else you can think of that your people would love doing!! 

Having now promoted the “big” thank you event, the next level is to take each volunteer individually out for lunch or ice cream and not only thank them but seek their counsel.  Give them the opportunity to share with you his/her heart, what excited them about the last year, and any concerns or constructive criticism he/she has.   Find out what they think they do well and do poorly. Ask them how you could improve as the team leader. Encourage honesty and allow them to be critical of you.  Very few other things will communicate how much you value your volunteers more than treating them as valued peers.  Hopefully they will challenge and encourage you and in turn, you could encourage and challenge them.  Chances are you'll not only have a more committed, excited volunteer, but you'll start taking your team to the next level.

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