There’s an old saying, “People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” You’ve heard it a thousand times. It’s old, but the meaning is relevant. No matter how well you coach and train your leaders, they need to know that you care. Lack of care often leads to burnout. You don’t want to go there.

As the typical ministry season (September – May) beings to wrap up, it’s a great time to show your appreciation to your group leaders. You don’t necessarily need to make over-the-top gestures, but it’s important to do something. After all, there are only two parts to small group ministry: (1) Recruiting Leaders, and (2) Keeping Your Leaders Motivated, Equipped, and Happy. They’ll gladly do their job, when you do yours. Here are some ways to show your leaders that you care:

Plan a Fun Event.

When you think about events, they really can run the gamut depending on your budget. You could go the route of team building events like ropes courses, trampoline parks, or escape rooms. If you’re in the vicinity of a campground, they might have an affordable facility available for your event.

If you’re on a budget, think about a picnic or tailgate. You could either cater the event or invite all of the group members along with the leaders to the event. The group members can provide the food for their groups, so there’s nothing to budget for.

One year our church in California had a picnic like this and asked each group to present an award to their group leader. Every group got up and expressed appreciation for their leaders publicly. Then, they would present either a homemade award like a plaque or a trophy. One group even created a Barbie doll to resemble their leader. Some groups went way over the top and gave restaurant gift certificate, a weekend away, or something else their leader really enjoyed. No matter how it was done, every leader left feeling very appreciated by the church and by their group.

Give a Small Gift.

A small gift communicates a lot. You don’t need to give away a car for leaders to feel appreciated. Think about what the leaders might enjoy – a Starbucks card, movie tickets, or an ice cream cone.

One year I gave every one of my leaders a book. I purchased two cases of John Townsend and Henry Cloud’s Making Small Groups Work and gave one to every leader. Not only did they feel appreciated, I also put some training into their hands. Many churches have done the same with my Leading Healthy Groups book.

Gifts don’t need to be large. But, even something small communicates a lot.

Give Public Recognition.

In addition to a small gift or some other form of appreciate, publicly recognizing your group leaders in a worship service is meaningful to leaders. If this comes from the senior pastor, you get bonus points.

Asking group leaders to stand, come to the front, or come up on stage, communicates the importance of small groups and the role of small group leaders in your church. Either you or your senior pastor can publicly thank leaders for letting God use them in the past year. You could even give some statistics like the number of people who came to Christ as a result of groups, or the number of people currently involved in groups.

While you’ve got your congregation’s attention, this would be a great opportunity to give them a heads up about your next group launch, even if it comes in the Fall. People like to plan ahead. And, remember, what you are saying to your current leaders is also being said to your future leaders sitting in the congregation.

Closing Thoughts

Leader appreciation is only limited to your creativity. If you have no budget, then get even more creative. Even simple things like a handwritten note are significant. After all, who gets personal mail anymore? A personal email is not the same.

How will you appreciate your leaders this year? What have you done in the past? I would love to hear what you’re doing.

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