No matter what denomination you’re a part of, no matter what theology you adhere to, and no matter what size your church is, the “culture” of your church has more impact than just about anything else.
People connect to a church because of the culture. Simple as that.
There are many factors that build a high-level life-giving culture, and Thankfulness is definitely high on the list.
Thankfulness and Gratitude are key building blocks because they communicate Appreciation. Of all the reasons that people leave a church, a lack of appreciation is probably the greatest. And the fix is simple – Show Appreciation.
To put it bluntly: You can IMMEDIATELY drive up the culture, retention and growth of your church by simply creating a culture of Thankfulness.
Appreciation is FUEL for the leaders and members in your church.
Here are a few things you can do (with essentially no cost) to build the culture of Thankfulness in your Church.
1. Realize that it starts at the TOP
As a Pastor or Leader in your church, you’ve gotta understand that this begins with you. If you don’t do this personally, it will never become part of your church. As you read through these next few points, take a look at your personal life and see if you have these things included in your personal schedule. We regularly fill our schedules with things that somebody else could do, but this one has to start with YOU. Take ownership of this one, and you’ll see immediate results.
If you’re blessed to have a staff at your church, it’s critical that you regularly show them how much you appreciate them and their efforts. Staff members have chosen this as their vocation and calling, and the enemy is working over-time telling them that they’re not doing a good job, that their efforts are weak, and that they aren’t appreciated.
This past week, during our staff meeting, the first point of conversation was simply letting our staff know how blessed our church is to have them, how confident we are in them, how their efforts ARE making a difference, and how God is using them to make a major difference in our community.
We talked about lots of other things, but that chunk of intentional conversation was probably the most important.
A favorite quote:
“Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership. Everything. – John Maxwell”
As you grow your local church, leaders will emerge and hopefully you will elevate them as they show loyalty and ability. For the most part, they’re not getting paid monetarily from the church, but simply serving out of the passion God gave them.
The weekly wear-and-tear can take a toll on them, as well as the discouragements that come from the work of ministry. Not to mention, the enemy is constantly telling them they’re not good enough.
You can combat all these things by simply being proactive and intentional in telling them “Thank You” and expressing how grateful you are that they are leading with you.
4. Celebrate Publicly
People want to know that their efforts are being noticed and appreciated. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make it part of your regular routine to celebrate things publicly.
From the stage, talk about certain teams and call out some names of the people who are stepping up in those areas. On social media, give recognition to somebody who has been taking initiative.
Especially if you’re a Pastor or Communicator at your church, it’s so important to weave these things into your messages, and include them in the transitions.
It’s as easy as something like this:
“Guys, I just want to give a shout-out to our kids team. If you haven’t been in that area lately, you should go by and see what all they’re doing. This past weekend, several of them were up here putting the finishing touches on their new check-in process. That team is full of people who strive for excellence, and I’m so thankful for their commitment to leading kids to Jesus.”
5. Direct Communication
Hand-written notes, Text messages, Phone calls and catching somebody in the hallway face-to-face with an encouraging word of appreciation goes so far. When you take time to recognize them, it lights up their day and fills their tank with energy to continue working in the passion God has given them. Without it, people run dry. With it, they stay inspired to do what they were called to do. From the greatest to the least, direct communication is so easy, but so effective. But it doesn’t happen without a plan.
One of the things we do in our staff meetings is write Thank You notes to people who are taking initiative in the church. We simply think through the people, and every staff member writes 1-2 cards to send off in the mail. Over time, countless people have received direct communication from our team telling them how thankful we are for them.
Always be on the lookout for opportunities to tell people “Thank You.”
Financial Donors are obviously important, but how often do you thank them? Yes, we believe giving to the work of God is something we “should” do, but in this world of self-preservation, it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to find the personal commitment to consistently give and support the church financially.
People need to KNOW that their gifts are noticed and appreciated.
Two things that are simple to do, and can make a major impact in your congregation are”
Near the end of the year, get a list of your Top 20 or Top 30 donors and send them a note in the mail. Let them know that you appreciate them being so faithful in financially supporting the church, and that their gifts are making a huge difference.
Setup a system of recognizing “First-Time Givers”. When somebody takes the step of financially supporting the church, the enemy will tell them that it’s wasting money and that their donations aren’t helping very much. Sending them a note that tells them you saw their gift, and appreciate them becoming a financial supporter, lets them know that they are a valuable part of the church, and that their gift DOES make a difference.
Some things are expensive. “Thank You” isn’t. It’s a sure-fire way to build your church stronger. Not just around Thanksgiving time, but all through the year, make these things a part of your routine, and teach your key leaders to do the same. It all comes down to “Intentionality”.
The culture of Thankfulness will start to bleed over into every area of your church and through the families in your church. God will get glory and your church will grow stronger in the process.
Here at Faith Teams, we’re thankful for YOU. As you give your life to leading the local church, YOU are making a difference, impacting families and generations with the Hope of Christ. Don’t stop. Keep going. Your efforts are going further than you think.
We’re praying for you, and SO thankful for you.