Church Video Ideas:  Giving Thanks

Orginally published on Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 1:00 PM
by Todd Rhoades

Let me start out by saying in advance: Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving, besides turkey and watching the Cowboys play, is about pausing to give thanks. Our God is worthy to be praised. We have so much to be thankful for - life, health, family and salvation offered through Jesus Christ. The list goes on and on. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

Besides giving thanks to our God for His many blessings, I’d also like to encourage you to stop and give thanks for the many people involved in your ministry that make Sunday happen. From volunteers to paid staff, we all need to be appreciated and encouraged from time to time. This action (you have to be pro-active) can be public, private, big or small. The point is to intentionally let people know that you love them, care for them as a person (not just what they do), and appreciate what they contribute to the team.

I mention this during the Thanksgiving season, but obviously, this should take place at various times throughout the year. Last week I wrote about the subject of recruitment. You’ll find that after you bring in new recruits, you will have to work to keep them. The people you recruit aren’t robots; they’re real people with real feelings and very busy lives. They have enough going on without their involvement in the church and you’ll find if they feel unappreciated or not needed, they will eventually disappear.

I mentioned that even paid staff need to be thanked from time to time; however, for this article, I mainly want to focus on volunteers. Most churches work with a team of volunteers. This is true whether you’re a small, medium or large sized church (keep in mind that the majority of churches in America are under 200 people). It’s easy to imagine utilizing volunteers in a small setting. There’s a myth out there that mega-churches pay everyone and don’t utilize volunteers. I work with several mega-churches and can tell you this is not true at all.

I got to sit in on a class at WFX with my friend Anthony Coppedge. Anthony was speaking with Bruce Smith. Bruce Smith used to be the media pastor at Willow Creek Church. Now Bruce is helping churches through his new company: Church Solutions Group. I remember 3 years ago at the Willow Creek Arts Conference when Bruce filled the stage with 400 people – 400 volunteers. He was showing everyone that even in the mega-churches, ministries are run by a team of volunteers. The sight of hundreds of volunteers filling the stage is a sight I’ll never forget. Bruce ran an amazing media ministry at Willow Creek and obviously put these principles in practice that I’ve been writing about (building team depth, recruitment and volunteer appreciation).

You might be thinking “400 volunteers! We don’t even have 400 people in attendance.” I realize that and want to again emphasize that these are principles and they apply regardless of your church’s size. So, let’s say you agree that your team needs to have depth. You’ve agreed to do away with the one man show. You read the article on recruitment and are going to start actively bringing new people on to your team. Now, how do you go about keeping up moral and maintaining your team of volunteers? Here are a few ideas.

Publicly thank your team: Maybe via an announcement from the platform. Maybe the pastor works it in to his message. Maybe you bring them up on the platform and recognize them in front of the whole congregation. Maybe you come up with a video that creatively gets the “thank you” message across.

Send out a weekly team email: In this email include things such as the monthly schedule, the week’s schedule, a devotional thought and a brief word on how you appreciate each and every one of them.

Send out a personal email: From time to time, stop and send an email to your team (especially your team leaders). Thank them for their contribution to the ministry and ask them how they’re doing personally. If you’re aware of a specific prayer request, ask them how that situation is going.

Pick up the phone: In this wired world it seems ancient, but it works. Keep a list of each team member’s phone number and start calling one or two a week. Just randomly pick someone, unless God lays someone in particular on your heart.

Write a letter to the team: Maybe monthly or quarterly send out a team letter or newsletter where you cast vision, give updates, share stories of changed lives and let them know as a team how much you care for and appreciate them.

Write a personal letter: I keep a stash of greeting cards – small, personal “Thank You” cards. Whether you go alphabetically down a list or pick someone as you feel led, it doesn’t matter. The beauty of these cards is that they’re handwritten. It’s a refreshing change from a typed up and printed out letter.

Reward them: Maybe you just finished a particularly busy time of year (Christmas production, Easter Passion Play, VBS, etc.) – see that you include money in your budget to buy something nice for each team member. I usually do gift cards to a nice restaurant, but I’m sure there are more creative things to purchase to show your appreciation such as flowers, chocolate, etc.

Host an appreciate banquet: Once or twice a year, host an appreciation banquet at your church or a restaurant. If you really want to shake things up, have your church staff serve your volunteers. Let your team members sit and relax while your paid staff acts as waiters and waitresses. I’ve done this and it’s pretty special.

Invite them to dinner: Maybe once a year (or more), invite your team (or if you have a large team, just your team leaders) over to your house for dinner. Serve them and treat them like kings and queens. Go out of your way to make them feel special.

Just say it: Lastly, just look them in the eyes and say, “Thank you for your ministry here. I appreciate you.” It seems simple, but it’s needed and won’t go unnoticed. Who knows, you might just make someone’s day!

FOR DISCUSSION: How do you show your thankfulness for your team?


©2006 – Greg Atkinson (www.churchvideoideas.com)

Used by permission from author. All rights reserved by author.

imageGreg Atkinson lives in Dallas with his wife and their three small children. Greg served previously as the Director of WorshipHouse Media, after having served as a worship pastor for 11 years. He is the Founder of Multisensoryworship.com and Co-Founder of Wasteland Creative, where he continues to consult, teach and write about worship, media and creative communication. You can connect with him through his daily blog, Church Video Ideas, his podcast, Creative Synergy, or his email: .

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  There are 6 Comments:

  • Posted by

    First, let me say that this Thanksgiving I am especially thankful for God’s miracles.  My wife and her mother were on the highway near our house (highway, not freeway) when someone ran a stop sign and hit her.  She was going about 60 mph (the speed limit) and he was doing about 40-45 according to witnesses and they hit at right angles. There is a large grass median between sides of this highway and both vehicles went onto the median and rolled several times. 

    My mother-in-law had just had major neurosurgical reconstruction of 5 vertebrae in her neck, they were actually on their way to the ER because it looked like the incision had become infected, and the impact and subsequent rolling and bouncing was not what she needed.  They didn’t even want to move her by ambulance so they called in a Medevac helicopter and took her to the local trauma center.

    I’m thankful to be able to say that both my wife and her mother are fine.  Both of them are sore and have some bruises, but no major injuries.  Even my mother-in-law’s surgery appears to have suffered no ill affects.  To me this is a miracle, especially after seeing the condition of the vehicle; they were driving a Dodge Durango and were hit by an old Chevy Suburban and both vehicles were just about destroyed.

    We are very thankful to be celebrating this Thanksgiving together at home.  Now I just have to deal with the frustration that the guy who ran the stop sign is an illegal alien with no ID, no license, and of course no insurance.

    As for our ministry team, it is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we have decided to close our plant church. 

    For 4 years, first as Northpoint Fellowship, then as Compass Church (http://www.compasswired.com) we have reached out to the local community.  I feel like we have reached the community, everyone seems to know who we are and a lot of people have told us they appreciate the community events we’ve done, we have a great relationship with the local city governments due to our volunteer work, but this hasn’t translated into membership or attendance.

    No scandal, nothing salacious, just a quiet realization, after much thought and prayer, that God is leading us to move on to serve in other ways.  Through it all we are thankful for our Pastor, for everyone else involved in our church, for God’s presence and guidance in our lives and for His saving grace.

  • Posted by


    Praise the Lord that your family is fine.  Here in California (and probably also in TX) we are accustomed to illegal aliens driving (and crashing) without a license or insurance.  It is hard not to be cynical sometimes (probably not for you).

    It seems that you are finding the way to be thankful in the midst of closing this chapter, being part of a church plant.  I can only imagine the dreams and hopes you had four years ago.  Reflecting on those must be painful.  I think its interesting that scripture gives us evidence of all the successful plants from the Apostle Paul.  Doesn’t it stand to reason that he also planted some that didn’t “succeed?” I’m sure God will continue to bless and use the seeds you planted and the relationships you built in the community.

    Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving.


  • Posted by


    I’m probably as cynical as anyone when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration.  Seeing how distraught the guy was at the scene, especially when they were putting my mother-in-law into the helicopter, made me take pity and feel forgiving towards him.  But towards the legal system I am very cynical, as an example of how broken the system is; the guy had no license or other ID, did not own the vehicle he was driving and the vehicle was apparently not insured by whoever did own it, and the police took a name (which may or may not be his) and an address (at which I’m sure he’ll not be found) and they let him leave the scene.  When I tried to make the point to one the officers that they did not really know who he was, and that they did not know my mother-in-law’s condition and if she died they might want to file charges against him and wouldn’t be able to find him, and that he was in all likelihood here illegally, the officer got mad at me and told me that I should worry about my business and let them worry about theirs. Yeah, I’m a bit cynical.  I know enough about the issue to know there are no easy solutions, and I’m cynical enough to believe that ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away isn’t going to work.  For some reason I foresee some political/social activism in my future.  wink

    As for our church, no cynicism there, we were been blessed with an opportunity to serve, have enjoyed every moment of it, and are eagerly seeking new opportunities.

  • Posted by

    Our church, in early November every year, does a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. We had a HUGE turnout this year, and yes, the staff and leadership team served everyone dinner. It is a HUGE way to thank your people. I highly recommend it!

  • Posted by Aiakos

    The post’s very professional

  • Posted by Pink Scooter

    Reward them -This is so true. Even if most people wont admit that they want to get something in return, they do.

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