In the past I have been in a number of churches for Appreciation Day. These are some of the most memorable services in my recollection. They seemingly did more for the knitting together of the hearts of the church members than any other special day that I can recall.
The Bible has a great deal to say about the giving of thanks or expressing our appreciation, especially to Him, but, we are also to express our thanks and appreciation to those about us who have been a blessing to us and who have helped us through the years. These persons are not always the most visible in the church. Many times they are quiet, unassuming, faithful people who go about doing the job that the Lord has given them to do, in a thorough, dedicated manner. There comes a time when all of us can find real joy in expressing our appreciation to those about us who have been a blessing in our lives. It may be a Sunday school teacher, pastor, bus worker, usher or someone who may not be very visible at all. The following ideas will give some instruction as to how this material may be used in your promotion of Appreciation Day.
The pastor and the staff or chosen leaders must choose a time several weeks before this particular day in which to plan all of the particulars. This is one special day that does not require a great deal of planning, as far as advertising, printed materials, etc. But a large amount of thought and preparation should be given to Appreciation Day. It is not enough to announce that we are going to show our appreciation for our bus drivers, Sunday school teachers, staff members, etc., on a particular day and have the people to come and honor them. Certain definite plans need to be made. These plans should be as follows:
DEPARTMENTS AND CLASSES
In the “planning session” mentioned above, the pastor and those working with him, should choose someone from each adult class to head the campaign to show appreciation for the teacher of the class. It is impossible for the teacher to have his own “day,” so someone else in the class needs to spearhead this. In the lower classes there should be a concerted effort to show appreciation for the departmental leaders.
All of these people can receive certain tangible gifts like homemade cards of appreciation from the children, a financial love gift or some other article; but the best way is to encourage each class to have as many people present as possible, and in that way to show appreciation to the departmental head or the Sunday school teacher. This can be a very wonderful day in the Sunday school as people show their appreciation and express their love to the leaders. Leaders in the Sunday school or church ministry spend a great deal of time and effort and this donated time should not go unrecognized.
Every bus captain should show his appreciation to all of the people who ride his bus on appreciation day by having a nice token of his appreciation to give to them. Then he can teach his children to be unselfish and to show their appreciation to the pastor by having the largest number on the bus that they have ever had.
A picture of the pastor could be given to every bus child. Every child should cherish the picture of his/her pastor. These could be framed and put in their room or placed in their Bible or in some other place of save keeping. These do not have to be color photographs; they can be printed photos. A black and white photograph can be taken to the printers and the pictures can be printed on card stock to whatever size desired. These may then be autographed and ready for the children when they come on that particular Sunday.
This is really the paramount portion of Appreciation Day. This is the time when the hearts of the people will be touched very deeply.
As the people file into the services, place into each person’s hand, every man, woman and child, a small red ribbon, about one-half inch wide and two inches in length with a straight pin inserted in the ribbon. They are to keep these in their hands until the close of the service. After the pastor has given his message, had the invitation and the baptismal service, ask the people to be seated and explain what is about to take place. The pastor should then explain that all paid staff members would be excluded from the next few moments as far as people showing their appreciation to them. He should then ask every person to take his ribbon in hand and begin to think of the person who has been a great blessing to them in the past year or over the past several years. It may be a Sunday school teacher, a bus worker or an elderly lady who has absolutely no place of leadership. The pastor should then give a few moments for each person to take his or her ribbon and pin it on the lapel or the dress of the person in the church who has been the greatest blessing or a great blessing to them.
As the people begin to move about the auditorium, it soon becomes evident that certain individuals, and many times it will be a surprise individual, has made a marked impact on a great host of people. Some people will emerge literally “covered in ribbons”, according to the size of the audience. At the close of this time it becomes evident that a great number of people have been a great blessing to others and have had appreciation shown to them.
This never turns into a popularity contest. It is a sincere expression of appreciation to people in daily walks of life.
The pastor should instruct the people as they leave the auditorium to express their appreciation to every person who has been a blessing to them. They might not have pinned a ribbon on them, but they need to express their love and appreciation to them.
God bless you and have a wonderful “Appreciation Day”.