A Call to Pastors: Keep Writing Thank You Notes

“Say thank you annually, to those who volunteer throughout the year. This is the single most important thing to do for the retention of volunteers in the future.”



Thank you Notes to and from Pastors
October, you may have heard, is clergy appreciation month. As it turns out, Building faith is on top of that, with one of our most read posts, How to Write Your Pastor a Thank You Note.

But gratitude is a two-way street. Many pastors, and church staff, take time to write thank you notes to parishioners and church volunteers. Here are some tips for writing thank you notes; you may already practice these ideas, but hopefully you will find some new inspiration in the following:

1. Assemble the supplies you need
Having the necessary supplies on hand makes this task easy and simple. You might even want to have special note cards printed with the church logo, cross, or other Christian symbol. Keep the cards with stamps and a pen, so that you don’t have to search for these items.

2. Don’t delay
Write the note as soon as you can after an event or activity. On the other hand, it is never “too” late to say thank you.

3. Mention specific actions and results
Say thank you for the specific activity: last minute stepping in when the assigned person didn’t show up, going out of their way to do something for you or the church. You might write a note saying thank you for coffee, lunch, dinner, or a visit in a person’s home. Include something that happened or occurred that was helpful or special.

4. Repeat thanks for dedicated volunteers
Say thank you annually, to those who volunteer throughout the year. This is the single most important thing to do for the retention of volunteers in the future.

5. Use a mix of email and paper cards
In this electronic age, emails are okay for casual occasions, however a note of thanks should always follow invitations to a meal in someone’s home or gifts.

6. Take a team approach
At your church staff meeting, have the thank you materials on hand. Ask the staff to share positive stories about the community. Then take 5 minutes for everyone to send a thank you by email or by writing a note. Sharing our thanks allows us to see God’s abundance in our midst.

This ministry of gratitude is essential, for it reflects our gratitude to God for the many gifts and blessings we have received through the people who serve God and the church.


Amy Dyer, Ph.D is a Professor of Christian Education and Pastoral Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary. Throughout her career, she has been a public school teacher, Head Start trainer, Christian Education director, curriculum developer, Godly Play teacher, and more. Dr. Dyer’s interests include working with children, travel, and reading. During a recent sabbatical leave, she spent time in Ireland studying early Celtic Spirituality.

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