“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16
As we prepare for the Thanksgiving season, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about gratitude and appreciation today in regards to Sunday School. There are so many teachers and workers who helped mold me into a more Christ-like person. Yet, there are many that I waited too late to say “thank you!” So, one of the lessons I learned over the years was the value of showing appreciation to our teachers and other workers. When done right, preparing to teach can take several hours each week. It is not just about preparing a lesson. It is connecting with class members, spending time in prayer for the class, and being involved in projects with the class. I want to encourage you to consider ways you can show appreciation for them as the pastor or general officer.
(1) Send a handwritten note of appreciation to each teacher/worker once or twice a year. Let them know what an impact they are having as a partner in ministry. Get the children to color each one a picture. If you can get some coupons for a free ice cream at a local fast food restaurant, or some other token of appreciation, do so. They will be pleasantly surprised by any gesture. Don’t forget to remember their birthday as well!
(2) Recognize your workers in worship the first Sunday of the new church year and highlight a class once a month in your newsletter or bulletin. Most churches take the time to mention workers the first of the year with a prayer, responsive reading/commissioning as part of the service. Go the extra mile and look for reminders of their commitment to share appreciation. Give them something like a cross necklace. We had a couple in our last church that provided cross necklaces for all types of occasions as their gift to the church. Ralph was a wood carver and carved small crosses, and his wife, Gladys, found inexpensive material in the craft section at WalMart to make a necklace with them. Your teachers will cherish this keepsake!
I encourage you to highlight a class a month with the teacher and officers’ names at the top as well as a brief description of the class and list the class members’ names. This could be a great way to introduce newcomers to the different options for Bible study. Add a picture of the class to really make a difference!
(3) Provide a dinner in their honor. This could be one of your Wednesday night meals with special decorations to highlight the classes, or have a special dinner at another time. Provide some music and short devotional as a way of saying “Thanks.” You could go the extra mile by providing a multi-media presentation of the teachers/workers with information about their families, hobbies, favorite Scripture or hymn…etc.
(4) E-mail or call them once a month for prayer requests. What a difference it will make for them to know you are praying for them not just in general but specific ways!
Gratitude to God and appreciation for workers leads to a more open & loving heart in your life, and more inspired workers in Sunday School. Show appreciation to those who are sharing God’s Word and see what a difference it will make in your life and theirs!