4 Pandemic-Friendly Leader Appreciation Ideas

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As we approach the end of another year, let’s be sure to show our small group leaders just how much we love them and appreciate them! There is no doubt that this year has been one of the most challenging, and our small group leaders have gone above and beyond: many learned how to lead a group virtually, many have spent countless hours praying and serving in the midst of difficult times, and they’ve been devoted to making sure everyone stays engaged and cared for, when we aren’t seeing people face-to-face on a consistent basis. Our churches couldn’t do this without the valuable help of small group leaders. They play such a valuable role in caring for God’s flock. So, let’s make sure they know just how much we appreciate them!

Here are four ways you can show your appreciation for your Small Group Leaders:

  1. Sunday Morning Testimonials – Secretly plan and coordinate ahead of time with your Pastor to set aside a few minutes on Sunday morning (maybe for the month of December) for a short testimonial or two to be shared, from various small group members. Select a handful of small group members, who you know have something meaningful to share. Ask them to share their appreciation for their small group leaders, highlighting the key things they do, and how they have personally impacted them (and those in the group). This is a win-win for Small Groups in different ways. First, it will make the leaders feel loved and appreciated, as they hear the personal impact they’ve had on others. Secondly, any unconnected church members will hear the testimony of small group members and will clearly see/hear the value of being in a small group! Lastly, it will serve to encourage more people to be bold and willing to share their stories in the future.

2. Thank You Video – Gather as many small group members as you can for this special (secret) project, and ask them to create a short video saying “Thank You!” to small group leaders. Ask them to share anything specific that highlights the value of what they do, and how it’s made a personal impact on their life. An added bonus would be to include Pastors and other church staff in this video, thanking leaders and reminding them how valuable their role is. You could choose to show this video during a Sunday morning service, or simply send it in a link to all small group leaders.

3. Drive-by Thank You Parade – As this pandemic continues to be ongoing, it might be hard to gather everyone together, but why not still celebrate and appreciate your small group leaders by inviting them to a “drive-by” parade – just for them! Set a date and send a special invitation to your leaders. Ask and involve all your staff and small group members who are willing to help gather and celebrate and make the leaders feel special, valued, & loved. Be creative – make posters highlighting your appreciation, and create goody bags for your leaders, which might include a card of thanks (personally signed by their group members and/or staff), and other special gifts of appreciation.

4. Small Group “Thank You Party” – We all know how much leaders do – many of them often host, in addition to facilitating the group discussion. How about making a change to celebrate the leaders and give them a special night out, with your small group? This is a small and personal gathering, which makes it all the more special! If you’re able to gather together in-person, invite your small group leader to a special dinner party. For your small group discussion that night, have every group member share their personal “thanks” for all that he/she (leaders) has done. If you aren’t able to gather in-person (due to pandemic restrictions), you’ll need to get a little creative, and consider what you can do. Here’s a few ideas: bring the party to your small group leaders house, front door drop-off, of course (gather together with your small group members to deliver a special meal to them, along with a card and/or gift, thanking them). Another option would be to host a virtual appreciation night with your group. You could still choose to hand-deliver a meal, and encourage the group to “eat together” virtually, and then make it a night to shine a spotlight on your small group leader!

No matter how you choose to celebrate your leaders, the simple act of taking the time to thank them, making them feel loved, cared for, appreciated, and valued will be sure to encourage them in the midst of this challenging season. Hebrews 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Announcing our new online training course that features 7 total video session taught by Saddleback Church Online Pastor Jay Kranda, downloadable notes & lesson discussion questions! Learn more by watching the free course introduction & enroll HERE!


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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director



Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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