I remember after the closing rally of a youth retreat, the line of teens was stacked deep. It was filled with teens waiting to see me. Patiently they stood there for a long time just to tell me something. They just wanted to express their heartfelt “Thanks” for putting together such a great life changing event…
*end dream sequence*
Who am I kidding? That has never happened and most probably never will. Any youth minister has to have the clear understanding that they aren’t in this ministry for the praise and accolades of teenagers. We are in it for a lot more: His glory.
BUT…who says that we can’t teach our teens to be thankful? I’m not trying to get my teens to be thankful to me, but to live a life of THANKS. So how do we do that? Here are some quick ideas.
Be thankful yourself! Tell others thank you every chance you get. People ask me how we can get so many youth volunteers and I believe it’s because we try to tell them thank you as often as possible. People like to be appreciated, so appreciate them!
Give them opportunities to be thankful. We sometimes have moments in our youth services where we allow students to stand up and publicly thank their friend for just being a good friend. We only let a couple do it and then ask for more volunteers. After more teens raise their hands, I tell them that we aren’t doing any more tonight here, but before you go home, tell that person what you wanted to say.
Thank you cards are easy. People love to get thank you cards in the mail. We taught on “Thanks” one night and then passed out thank you cards for teens to write and then we mailed them. (The only problem here is teaching teens to address envelopes so USPS will mail them.)
Thank you videos for youth workers work wonders. Why not take a short thank you video from teens to youth workers in your ministry and then post it on your Facebook page or YouTube, and tag your workers. It blesses both the teen and the youth worker.
Finally, thank your teens for being a part of your ministry. You wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for them. (You might keep that part a secret.) Tell them thanks for being a good teenager. It goes a long way and builds a ministry of Thanks.