(WW) — Pastors need to hear they are appreciated,” said Terrell Carter, pastor of Webster Groves Baptist Church in Webster Groves, Missouri. “Too often a pastor only hears what is wrong … not what is right.”
“When a church undergoes changes, often people are unhappy. Change is stressful. A pastor has to navigate the pitfalls,” added Carter, who also serves as vice president of community life and chief diversity officer at Greenville University in Greenville, Illinois. “The job of a pastor can be lonely. My advice is to tell your pastor he or she is appreciated. Let them know their work is not in vain and they are doing something right.”
The history of appreciating those ordained by God goes back to Bible times. The apostle Paul wrote that the church elders were worthy of a double honor, especially preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17). In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, he stated that those who God has chosen to work among you should be held in the highest regard for their work and that you should love them.
In 1992, this thought became known as Clergy Appreciation Month among Southern Baptists. Other denominations also suggest a time to honor pastors and religious personnel.
If your church is wondering “what” or “how” to observe Pastor Appreciation Month, perhaps these suggestions will help. Most important: DO SOMETHING. Don’t neglect to say “thank you” for the pastor or minister who is always there for you.
- Expand their book collection. Encourage your pastor to keep their personal library up-to-date by purchasing Christian books or Bible commentaries for their shelf or tablet. Perhaps a Sunday School class, Bible class, or church committee could present the pastor with a Book-a-Week for a couple of months. Ask the pastor for a wish list of books they would like to add to their library. Give a gift certificate to a Christian bookstore.
- Decorate their office door. Involve even young children in honoring their pastor by drawing happy pictures and taping to the office door. Children can be instructed to draw a picture of how they feel when they come to church. Tie a bouquet of balloons to the office doorknob. During Sunday School or children’s church, provide paper and crayons and have children write a poem or draw a personal illustration for the pastor. Insert each in a plastic folder and place in a 3-ring binder to present to the pastor.
- Schedule a church-wide meal honoring your pastor and spouse. What are your pastor’s favorite dishes? Plan a luncheon or dinner honoring them with wholesome food and good fellowship. During this time, ask several members to share a time when their pastor was there for them, or their family, in a time of need.
- Write letters. During October pass out stamped envelopes addressed to the pastor. Ask the congregation to write a short letter to their pastor expressing their appreciation of their leadership. Be specific and recall those time when your pastor prayed with you.
- Small things mean a lot. What are your pastor’s favorite things? Ask a few members to bring the pastor’s favorite candies or snacks, or even items for a favorite hobby like fishing lures or a box of golf balls.
- Gift a day for October. Ask Sunday School classes or other church organizations to work together on an appreciation calendar. Each day, the pastor will receive one small item or gift. Selection might be a gift card for coffee at a local coffee shop, a homemade apple pie, movie tickets for them and their spouse, or a car wash. Imagine how appreciated your pastor will feel at the end of the month!
- Involve the media. Let others in your community know you appreciate your pastor. Take out an ad in the local paper (with your pastor’s picture) telling others about your pastor and your church. Invite those without a church home to worship with your congregation.
- Update the pastor’s church office. How long has it been since the church office was redecorated? When visitors stop by, what is their first impression? Work with a committee to purchase new flooring and furniture if needed, in consultation with the minister.
- Dinner on us. Place a colorful tea towel in a wicker basket and fill with food for one meal. Choices might include: jar of tomato or meat sauce, spaghetti, French bread, bag of ready-to- eat salad, pound cake, and ready-to-serve ice tea.
- Pray for your pastor. Perhaps this is the most important thing you can do. Support him/her by your attendance and commitment. Be cooperative and loving toward others. Honor God by honoring God’s servant.