In this season of Thanksgiving, consider how your church thanks their lay servant leaders for serving.  How does your congregation show gratitude and appreciation and offer a time of celebration?  

There is typically a group of leaders who will end their time of serving at the end of the calendar year when a new group of leaders begin their time of service.  Now is a great time to begin planning a time of celebration for this transition at a worship service in early January. 

Here are some valuable ways to make this a special time for both those who have been serving and whose time is coming to an end as well as those who will begin a new season of service.

  • Send out special invitations to those who will be honored detailing why, when, the time, and what to expect during this special worship service.
  • Consider having either a special message centered on lay servant ministry and/or a gifted lay speaker offering the message for this special worship service.
  • Call the leaders forward during the worship service whose terms have expired.  Introduce these leaders and remind the congregation of the roles for which these leaders have served. Present the leaders with a certificate of appreciation noting the term and position served.  If there was something noteworthy about the person or group during their tenure, lift this up for a time of celebration and thanksgiving. If possible and appropriate, offer a small gift of appreciation for each person’s service.
  • Call the new leaders forward during the worship service. Introduce these new leaders and the roles for which they have been elected to serve. Offering a special commissioning for the new leaders who will be taking new roles of leadership.  Ask the congregation for their prayers and support for these leaders.
  • Consider a fellowship dinner for the congregation to celebrate lay servant leaders.
  • During the dinner, consider playing some intergenerational games to lift up lay servant ministries (i.e. Bingo identifying all the areas of lay servant ministries in your church and as they are called out, people can cover it if they’ve served in that ministry.)  Ask people to tally up the number of years they have served in leadership roles in their church. Give away small prizes for such things as the longest serving leader, the youngest leader, the oldest leader still serving, the person who has mentored the most new leaders, or the person who has served in the most different roles. Have fun and be creative!

Why is it important to show appreciation to our lay servant leaders?  According to, showing appreciation to others improves people’s moods, people will engage at a higher level, appreciation will increase trust in relationships, it improves innovation and effectiveness, and creates a story for the future.

The Apostle Paul also reminds us about the importance of appreciation in 1 Thessalonians, “And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!”  1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, The Message