I was in a meeting last week and Pastor James Armentrout of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Roanoke, Virginia who shared a story about his desire to create a culture of gratitude at St. Mark. I thought James had a simple and helpful way of saying “Thank You”, so I asked him to write about it. Here is what James had to say and an example of what his “Thank You” space looks like.
As a pastor new to my current congregation I have worked very deliberately to develop a culture of gratitude. One of the first things I did after I arrived was to create dedicated “Thank You” space at the end of the weekly worship bulletin. Here I list, by name, every person who has been involved in some facet of congregational mission or ministry that week. The list includes the folks who folded bulletins or the newsletter, helped with the food pantry or clothes closet, those who came and read to or prepared lunch for the children in our preschool, prepared a meal after a funeral, etc. I keep a notepad handy at all times so that when some individual or group is doing something mission/ministry related I can write their names down. I’ve done this enough in my five months at St. Mark that now when ministry coordinators see me coming with my notepad they know right away what I’m doing and make sure I haven’t missed any names. In the bulletin I list everyone alphabetically with their names in bold type. At times, I do miss a name, but we simply acknowledge the mistake and print the name the next Sunday. Not surprisingly, people respond well when you express your gratitude publicly.