One of the most interesting passages to me in the Bible is found in Romans 16. Paul’s letter to the church at Rome is his explanation of and defense for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As pastors, we know the value of study and preaching about the gospel from Romans. To me, chapter 16 is fascinating. In the first 16 verses of the chapter Paul lists the names of 31 people. I’m sure we could all write an email or blogpost recognizing 31 people within our churches and ministries. But what fascinates me is that Paul, by his own testimony (1:11), had never been to the church at Rome; he longed to go there.
Now, let’s reconsider that email or blogpost. Could you name, thank, and recognize 31 people for their partnership in the gospel at a church to which you’ve never been?
We can learn some lessons from Paul’s recognitions in this chapter. First, Paul believed multiple people were an important part the spread of the gospel in church life.
We should, following Paul’s example, recognize those within our ministries who serve so that the gospel can spread. Second, we become what we celebrate. If we consistently, publicly, and honestly show gratitude to those who serve, we’ll help create a culture and attitude of service in our churches.
Following are 7 simple ways to express gratitude to the servants in your church.
- Publically recognize servants, ministries, and ministry teams. When was the last time you thanked a group or person from the pulpit? Think about your sound and tech team for a moment. Everyone knows when there is feedback or a PowerPoint slide is incorrect. How about taking the time to publically affirm their pressure-packed ministry when they get it right (all the times when their flawless execution hides their service).
- Host a dinner thanking your servants. If your church is like our church, the servants who volunteer are invaluable. Hosting a dinner and saying thank you will never repay the hours they give (and they don’t give those hours to be thanked), but it’s a gesture that lets them know they are important and are noticed.
- Celebrate victories together. One of the best ways to recognize volunteers is to share success stories. When a mission team experiences conversion stories, tell those stories and connect them to the team of servants. Talk up what God is doing among your servant teams.
- Use your church or staff blog, to express gratitude and celebrate spiritual success stories. You cannot hope to share everything God does in your church family from the pulpit on a Sunday. So find other outlets, like blogging or church newsletters, to show appreciation and thanks.
- If you have the means, take video and pictures of volunteers throughout the year and compile them into a montage video at the end of the year. People love to see their pictures and sharing their service with the church body through video is a fantastic way to show appreciation and celebrate their service.
- Post pictures and short stories of servants through social media. Social media is an immediate means of sharing news and expressing thanks. We can effectively use our church’s social media platforms positively by building up, encouraging, and showing gratitude to others.
- Learn names and write thank you cards. Romans 16 is an extended thank you note where Paul affirmed people by name. Sometimes expressing gratitude is as simple as calling them by name and knowing what they do. If Paul can do that for a church he’d never visited, surely we can do that for the people to whom God has called us. Writing personalized thank you notes is something we should do often.
As pastors and church leaders, we like to feel appreciated. We like to know our work and service is making a difference to others. No, we shouldn’t base our ministry or our value on the gratitude of others (a topic for another blog), but we like to be thanked nevertheless. The servants in our churches are not any different. At the least, we should find ways to show our appreciation to them and how their partnership in ministry impacts the spread of the gospel in and through our churches.