A pastor once told the story of how he had struggled to grow the church he led. Then one Sunday, there were a lot more members in the pews. Next Sunday, same thing. He was thrilled that prayers were being answered.
On the third Sunday, there was another larger turnout — followed by a called business meeting in which members fired him. More people had turned out because the church bylaws required members to attend three consecutive services to vote in a business meeting.
Every pastor seems to be required to live in a fishbowl, be on call at all times, have an exemplary family and live with job security continually at risk. Many churches still call their leader annually.
October is Pastor (or Clergy) Appreciation Month, with the second Sunday designated as Pastor Appreciation Day — a good time to say "thanks" with words and actions.
An article in a 1961 Word&Way issue described First Baptist Church of Kearney honoring its pastor by washing the car, mowing the lawn, hosting a luncheon, providing free baby sitting for a night out and delivering two gifts every half-hour. Do you think that left a lasting impression?
Consider these ideas:
Financial package. Can your minister stretch his/her current salary even further by reducing taxable income? The Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (mmbb.org or 800-986-6222) and GuideStone Financial Resources (guidestone.org or 888-984-8433) have websites, extensive resources and consultants to examine and update compensation plans.
Warm fuzzies. Many ministers keep a file of uplifting cards and notes they look at during setbacks and times of weariness. Contribute to the pastor's collection with cards, notes, Facebook postings or an oversized banner that everyone can sign.
Thoughtful gifts. Gifts that reflect interests and passions, favorite restaurants and activities can be meaningful, showing the giver cares and went the extra mile in selecting it.
Commemorative gifts. Businesses, such as DIY Awards (diyawards.com), suggest ideas for celebrations such as an anniversary, doctorate degree or retirement.
Investment gift. The church budget may already have a professional development line item. That doesn't keep a congregation from providing subscriptions, materials, a sabbatical or transportation to a national or international meeting, such as the Baptist World Alliance (bwanet.org).
Do not disturb gift. Certificates and gifts specifically designed to take the pastor out of the office to relax or vacation, preferably without a phone or laptop, are welcomed.
No man is an island. A church shares the pastor with the minister's spouse and family members. Acknowledge the support and sacrifices they make. Special service. A time for others to celebrate and share testimonies can be memorable.
Many websites have materials and other ideas:
• Pastor-appreciation.net contains a wide range of resources, shared ideas and a monthly newsletter.
• Christian Tools of Affirmation (ctainc.com/Pastor_Appreciation_Ideas_Free_Resources.asp) has idea, prayers and downloads, including "50 Ways to Love Your Pastor," with options to support ministers all year.
• Christianity Today’s site has a page (christianitytoday.com/holidays/clergy/) dedicated to clergy appreciation resources.
• Pastor appreciation ideas can be found at My-Pastor.com.
• Another list can be found at Church Helps.
• Remember the pastor's spouse as well. You'll find inspiration at ReviveOurHearts.com.
Ken Satterfield is advertising coordinator for Word&Way.