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A little over a month ago, we held our annual volunteer appreciation event. Last year it was a Christmas party, which I’m not entirely a huge fan of. It just seemed as if there’s already too much happening at Christmas time. So, we picked the end of February since there’s literally nothing exciting happening at the end of February.

This year’s event was so much fun. Over and over again the volunteers have told us how much they enjoyed this event. What did we do? A city-wide scavenger hunt. My elementary director did this at her previous church with much success, so we decided to give it a try this year. Essentially, we assigned volunteers into groups of 4-7 based on the region they lived, not by which ministry area they served. We hoped it would mix things up a little and give some of our people an opportunity to get t know others. After they were grouped together and everyone had arrived, all the groups took off for a two hour scavenger hunt across the city. Every group had at least one person with an iPhone or equivalent and so while the teams were out, we received a steady stream of pictures from everyone.

Once everyone came back, we had a catered dinner from Carrabba’s that was absolutely delicious and surprisingly financially reasonable. I shared a little about the successes we’ve seen in the last year and how we’re moving forward for 2010. In addition, we had our pastors’ wife come and share (she started the children’s ministry 11 years ago when Gateway was planted). It was perfect having her share about how it all started.We dismissed everyone after this giving them brand new volunteer t-shirts for the next year.

It was a great party and next year we’d love to see an even higher portion of our volunteers come out. We’ll come up with something new and different, but I think we’ve learned that the secret to a good volunteer party is something active and requires people to engage beyond the surface level.