There is a group of people that make me smile when I think about them: VOLUNTEERS!
Volunteers are the pillars of the church. Without volunteers, chairs would not get set up, meals would not be cooked, classes would not be taught, and church vans would not be driven. Without volunteers, ministry would be EXTREMELY difficult.
Most volunteers do not realize the importance of their role.
1. Ministers cannot conjure up "ministry excitement" all the time. They NEED church members to take up the torch, to back them up, to be excited and supportive. In fact, truth be told, programs are BETTER when volunteers play an integral part in planning them!
2. Ministers cannot do all the work. They either need help planning or executing the programs for their ministries.
3. Volunteers keep ministers honest. As a youth minister, one of the things I struggle with the most is being paid for my job. Would I still do it if I wasn't paid? Could I? Then I see someone volunteering to be the youth worker for a small church, and I think, "YES! If I weren't paid, I would want to be like THAT person!"
I try to tell those small-church volunteers how much I appreciate them. At our annual youth rally, I don't want them to pay admission. Last year, I was blessed to pull them into a room and try to give them some encouragement and resources.
In fact, I probably show my appreciation to other volunteers better than the volunteers at my own church!
As far as my own volunteers, I am still learning. Notes, emails, phone calls, a personal thank-you...but more is coming! I hope I will always keep learning how to encourage my volunteers and give them ownership of our church's ministry to young people.