Paul said to those gathered in the house churches in Thessalonica, “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Paul was writing to the believers about the need to recognize the house church leaders who were opening their homes and serving voluntarily.
The NIV version uses the word “respect,” but the Greek word in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 literally means “to perceive” or “to know” those who la kimjbor among you. The NASV uses the word “appreciate” which correctly describes the meaning of this word.
When we appreciate or recognize the diligent labors of cell leaders, we honor and affirm the leaders’ service and ministry. It’s akin to a “payment” for well-rendered service.
December is a great time to honor your cell leadership. They’ve been working hard all year by serving voluntarily. Now is the time to make them feel special. I’m not only referring here to main leader but also to the entire team, which include co-leaders, leaders, supervisors, and pastors. What are some of the best ways to honor cell leadership at the end of the year? Here are some ideas:
- Acknowledgement before the congregation: Plan a special recognition time during the celebration worship service. Ask the leadership to come forward (co-leaders, leaders, supervisors, and pastors). Speak kind words about their service, pray for them, and give them something special like a card, book, t-shirt, carrying bag, or whatever you can financially afford.
- A special meal: If there are less than a dozen small group leaders, I recommend preparing a special meal for them. You could do this at a home or restaurant. If you go to restaurant, find one that has a backroom, so you can concentrate better. Speak words of encouragement to the leaders. Pray for them. Give them a special gift. This is a time of honoring them for their hard work during the past year.
- Banquet: If your church is large and there are more than fifteen leaders, I suggest having a special dinner at the church building, hotel, or other rented facilities. The goal of this time is to encourage the small group leaders for their labor of love. A slide show or video is a great way to remember what God has done in the past year. Give an encouraging message to the leaders, appreciating them for their hard work. Remind them of their heavenly rewards and the motivation for cell leadership: serving Jesus and ministering to his sheep.
An encouraging, uplifting time of recognition will instill a sense of accomplishment in your small group leaders and prepare them emotionally and spiritually for the upcoming year.