In a couple of weeks we will host one of my favorite events of the year. We are gathering together the mass of volunteers who serve at the Central Campus of 12Stone Church for a night of fun, celebration and encouragement. I love gatherings like this because I believe it is essential that at least once a year volunteers under any leadership umbrella come together to not only enjoy time together but also rekindle vision.

Whenever we host these types of gatherings there is a moment I have come to love. While the name and method has changed throughout the years the purpose remains the same. There is a moment in these events where we present a few experienced servants with a Volunteer Hero Award.

The Volunteer Hero Award is a chance for us to highlight and celebrate a few people who embody what it means to selflessly serve to build God’s Kingdom through the local church. It is always a meaningful moment not only for those being awarded, but also for all in the audience.

The Volunteer Hero Award is not the only way to celebrate a great volunteer. There are many ways to call out and invite greatness in your volunteers. When considering who and how you will celebrate a volunteer keep a few things in mind:

  • Know the difference between Appreciation and Celebration – Every volunteer needs to experience appreciation as they serve, however not every volunteer needs to be celebrated equally. Celebrate volunteers for a legacy of service. It honors seasoned volunteers and helps younger people embrace serving as a marathon instead of a sprint.
  • Call out the good you see in them – In order for celebration to be meaningful it must be attached to the things the volunteer has done that are celebration worthy. Otherwise celebration will feel arbitrary.
  • Make it Meaningful – Celebrating a volunteer should be a marking moment in their life. Put some thought in so that celebrated volunteers can look back years later and still be touched by the way you honored them.

There are many ways to celebrate your volunteer heroes. Here is a short video example of what we use to honor volunteers (click here to see video). The video is followed up by a moment where we invite these Volunteer Heroes to come on stage and receive a framed copy of their letter from the video along with a sword (a meaningful gift in our church culture).