When is the right time to express our appreciation to Sunday School teachers and workers? Last April I wrote a blog post entitled Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Month: Is It May or October?. Those two months are the most typical times to recognize and appreciate those who invest so much time and effort in teaching and leading our classes. But the answer to my question is not May or October. The answer to the question is every month! These men and women deserve our praise and thanks more than one day or month each year (check out Sunday School Leader Appreciation Is a Must!).
On the other hand, it is appropriate to plan a churchwide emphasis for a day, week, or month in order to lead class attenders (and parents) to express their appreciation. In my blog post, Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Month: Is It May or October?, I list a dozen ways to do so (one per month): from thank you card Sunday to a teacher commissioning service and from mug a teacher Sunday to pray for your teacher week and more.
I ran across a great article this week that I just had to share. It is on a website entitled Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day, and the article is entitled Ideas for Honoring Your Sunday School Teacher. The article mentions that Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day is the third Sunday in October. But many want to say thanks to teachers before the Sunday School year ends, and May is often a natural time to do so.
The article mentions five major ways to honor and appreciate Sunday School teachers and leaders: awards, publicize the day, give special gifts, have a special service, and thank-you cards. Make sure you read all of the article for some great suggestions. Allow me to share a shortened version of the ideas from the article:
- AWARDS. Nominate your favorite Sunday School teachers for a Teacher of the Year Award. Encourage the church family to submit their nominations. Put together a nomination form that asks for the name and reasons why the teacher should be considered. Make the forms readily available to your congregation. You might share about last year’s winner from the pulpit in order to inspire them to complete and return the forms. Give all your teachers an appreciation certificate. (The article mentioned above contains a sample certificate.)
- PUBLICIZE THIS SPECIAL DAY. Announce the day from the pulpit, in your bulletin or church newsletter, by letters, and/or by announcement in every class. Remind everyone of the vital role Sunday School and teachers play in the life of the church. For some quotes, an article called Reproducible Bulletin Sunday Inserts has several from which you may choose. Put together a PowerPoint slide show of teacher pictures, quotes, and music as a reminder.
- HAVE A SPECIAL SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY SERVICE. Tailor the music, scripture, prayers, testimonies, and sermon around the topic of servanthood, teachers, and the importance of Sunday School. The article suggested passages like Deuteronomy 6:5-7, Proverbs 22:6, Matthew 19:14, and Luke 2:52. Also consider presenting appreciation certificates, doing live or video teacher interviews (sample questions in t he article), using special teacher name tags and bulletin covers, and listing the teacher/worker names in the bulletin. Offer a special time of food and fellowship at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert with a short program, speaker, and music.
- GIVE SPECIAL GIFTS. Express your appreciation in a tangible way. As the article says, explain that the gift cannot adequately express appreciation but is “a symbol or token of gratitude for faithful, excellent service.” Use your imagination to consider gifts. The article suggests items like flowers or plants, personalized mugs or other items, books, gift certificates, class pictures, and food items. Express your appreciation in a tangible way. As the article says, explain that the gift cannot adequately express appreciation but is “a symbol or token of gratitude for faithful, excellent service.” Use your imagination to consider gifts. The article suggests items like flowers or plants, personalized mugs or other items, books, gift certificates, class pictures, and food items.
- THANK-YOU NOTES. Don’t underestimate how much a handwritten note or card will be appreciated. Some will be read again and again! Pass out similar stationary and bind them into a book with a special cover. Allow children to write notes on a posterboard. Blow up a picture of the class and use a marker to write notes on the picture. Consider sending e-cards. The article offers many more suggestions.
The key to all these ideas is leadership and planning. Some cost money; some do not. You may want to add teacher/worker appreciation into your budget. Start early adding appreciation to your church calendar. Make it special. Encourage these church workers! Be revolutionary!