Early on, we have our leaders fill out a form to help us get to know them. We use Google docs, which is a free site that allows you to create forms and send them to others to fill out. Our leaders complete the form, and then Google docs compiles the information into a nice and clean format. To get to know them better, we ask four or five basic questions such as "What is your favorite soft drink?" and "What is your favorite snack?" We then develop fun, personalized gifts for each leader based on their answers and deliver them personally.
We celebrate leaders' birthdays by delivering a balloon, cookies, and candy during their birthday month. It's a special touch that lets leaders know we care about them, and it's very inexpensive.
Open House Events
We've found one of the best ways to love on leaders is through "come and go" events during weekend services that they can stop by whenever it's convenient. Several times a year we hold these open house events with various themes to encourage leaders to stop by, say hello to other leaders, and feel our appreciation.
We've done many different themes through the years. One was: "Thank you for 'blowing' people away with your love!" We gave leaders a bottle of bubbles, a blow pop, bubble gum, and a Yahoo with a silly straw so they could blow bubbles in their milk! It was wrapped together in a fun package.
Another time we focused on the hope small-group leaders provide for group members and called the theme "Hope Floats." We had cola, root beer, strawberry soda, and ice cream and served floats to our leaders. Even at 9:00 a.m., people can't resist a good ice cream float!
We love to provide an annual night out for leaders and their families to come together and have some fun. Choose an environment where kids are welcome, buy them dinner, and simply show them appreciation. We are doing one this year at Chick-Fil-A because it's kid-friendly, relatively inexpensive, and provides an opportunity for everyone to visit.
Have a year-end party at someone's home and have dinner and time to connect after a year of ministry. We also like to have giveaways and funny awards to keep the mood light. Whether simple or elaborate, your leaders will appreciate the fun event.
The possibilities are endless for bringing fun to your ministry and loving on your leaders. Get creative with your resources and your personal strengths. More than an expensive gift, small-group leaders simply want to know that they are making an impact and that you see and appreciate the hard work they put in.
—Peri Gilbert is Small Group Coordinator at The Simple Church.