Episcopal Diocese of Albany, NY
Business Office: 68 South Swan Street - Albany, NY 12210 - (518) 465-4737
Christ the King Spiritual Life Center: 575 Burton Road - Greenwich, NY 12834 - (518) 692-9550

Jesus Was A Volunteer

by Deacon Laurie M. Garramone-Rohr, Coordinator for Christian Ed

We know lots of titles that help describe Jesus: Prince of Peace, Son of God, Messiah, Emmanuel. How about 'Volunteer'? Jesus didn't get paid to change water into wine or to cast out demons. He didn't get a teacher's salary and benefits after speaking feeding the 5000. He didn't copyright the Sermon on the Mount and get royalties for years afterwards. He did what he did out of love and a sense of calling, of living into his gifts in order to bring people into the Kingdom.

On any given Sunday, our churches are full of volunteers. People are making coffee, taking care of altar guild, teaching Sunday School, ushering and handing out bulletins at the door, counting the offering long after church is over, singing in our choirs, delivering the Eucharist to the home-bound. And they are doing what they do out of love and a sense of calling. Like Jesus, they are volunteering and sharing their gifts in order to bring people into the Kingdom.

As our church programming winds down before summer, what is your church doing to let those volunteers know you appreciate them? How are you saying thanks? How are you letting the wider church know about the ministries that continue because volunteers keep showing up? I'm going to suggest some ways to help you say thanks.

  1. Throw a fancy dessert party, or have an end-of-year picnic where volunteers are recognized, but don't let your volunteers make anything or clean up. Invite the whole church so that everyone is involved in saying thanks. Have small gifts available for your volunteers—plants, pins, cards—that convey your appreciation. Have the names of your volunteers listed in a program you hand out to everyone who attends.
  2. Get kids involved in saying thanks so they can learn about your church ministries, especially when those volunteers impact their lives. For Sunday School teachers have them make cards or posters or decorate a special tote bag with fabric paint. Inside the bag include a card from the church and a book of devotionals.
  3. Include their names in a Sunday bulletin so people can say prayers of thanksgiving, or so they can thank people in person. Ask volunteers to stand up so the congregation can applaud. (Lucky you if your entire congregation stands up!)
  4. Interview one or two volunteers during a Sunday Service or write it up for your church newsletter. Ask them why they chose their ministry and how they see God at work through their ministry.
  5. Frame a special verse of scripture that someone types up on the computer, or shop for beautiful cards that you can frame and give away.
  6. Surprise volunteers on occasion with simple things: a free ice cream cone coupon, a thank-you postcard, a special coffee hour treat delivered to a Sunday School room or Bible Study.
  7. Remember the forgotten—altar guild, garden guild, musicians, coffee hour—go through the list in your mind, go through the parish directory, and mark the names.
  8. How about our acolytes and youth servers? Do we expect them to show up for services and practices on a regular basis? Let's make sure they know that we care about their contributions by giving them certificates or by turning the last acolyte practice into a special brunch and celebration.
  9. Find lots more suggestions at Children's Ministry Magazine's website at http://www.childrensministry.com/Article.asp?ID=371

When we thank people, we're letting them know that they are making a difference. In the book of Luke, Jesus healed ten men who had leprosy. Only one returned to Jesus to give him thanks. Jesus noticed this: "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17: 17). When we appreciate the gifts people share with us, we are appreciating the gifts that God has given us through them.

So before your church year ends, give thanks, give praise and let your volunteers know that when they share their time and talent, they are giving God a chance to work through them in unique and blessed ways. Remember, Jesus was 'just' a volunteer too.

Back to Index

Disciples Making Disciples

Beaver Cross | Christ the King Spiritual Life Center | Donate to the SLC
News | Find A Church | About The Church | Directories | Event Calendar
Find A Cleric | Documents | Our Ministries | Site Map

© 2000 - 2009 Episcopal Diocese of Albany New York, All Rights Reserved
Optimized for Mozilla Firefox 3