SmallGroups.com asked small-group pastors, directors, coaches, and leaders:
What's the best way to celebrate, honor, and thank small-group leaders around the holidays?
In the past we've had a party at a restaurant and raffled off giveaways. Another idea is to meet at the coordinator's home and cater in food or simply have an ice cream sundae bar. This year, though, we asked our hosts to tell us their favorite fast food places to eat. We then asked local fast food places to donate gift certificates and sent them to our leaders, thanking them for all they do to reach others. I make a point to thank them for opening their hearts and homes.
—Peri Gilbert, small-group coordinator at The Simple Church
We like to thank our small-group leaders at Christmas in two ways. First, our coaches have the leaders into their homes for Christmas parties. (We give the coaches a small budget to make these nice.) Then we give our coaches and small-group leaders gift cards.
—Jim Egli, Leadership Pastor at the Vineyard Church in Urbana, IL.
Give a personal gift. Find something that tells them you know them and care about them. I had a large number of group leaders, so I couldn't be extravagant, but I always sent a nice Christmas card to leaders with a personal note, thanking them for their ministry, letting them know I was praying for them (mentioning specific things where I could), and wishing them a great Christmas season. I also sent my coaches a gift card to a store I knew they'd really like.
—Mike Mack, author of Small Group Vital Signs
I would do two things. First of all, I would reserve a restaurant and throw them a thank you party. Then publicly, I would lay hands on each of them during the Sunday worship service closest to Christmas to celebrate and renew their commitment to their small groups.
—Bill Easum, partner with 21st Century Strategies
Cards and gifts are always thoughtful and appreciated, but there are two other great ideas for thanking them. First, you could emphasize the small-group program in your weekend services. Don't just thank the leaders, but remind the congregation how important being a regular participant in small group is. You could even build a worship service or two around the small-group theme. Small-group leaders will appreciate knowing that their core leadership not only supports the small-group ministry, but emphasizes it. The second way to honor your small-group leaders is with the present of presence. Make the time to do a drop-in visit in each small group. The message you'll send is one of support and appreciation, and it won't soon be forgotten. And if you happen to bring a delicious snack, you'll be everyone's hero.
—Bill Tenny-Brittian, managing partner of 21st Century Strategies
One of the best things we've done to honor group leaders is publicly recognize them in a weekend service. We have the group leaders come forward and have our senior pastor give some words of affirmation for their ministry. I've also made it a practice, even with hundreds of group leaders, to write a personal Christmas card to each leader. Often this takes three weeks, but I express something personal to leaders about what I appreciate about them, and I affirm growth in their lives.
—Allen White, blogs at allenwhite.org
Since small-group leaders are relational, I like to do something that is relational in nature. So this year, I'm throwing them a party. I'm doing it on a Sunday morning so that they don't have to mess up their normal routine. I'm feeding them a great breakfast and giving them the chance to interact with other group leaders at our church.
—Ben Reed, small-group pastor at Long Hollow Baptist Church