During October, church staff Facebook groups, messaging forums, and social media all fill with the question, “What should I do for Pastor Appreciation Month?”
If you didn’t know, October is national Pastor Appreciation Month. Started in 1992, this month was inspired by Paul who stated in 1 Timothy 5:17, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” We see this idea echoed again in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for 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.” It’s important to show our thankfulness to those who direct us in ministry.*
Both church staff and members alike get excited for this time to show their pastors how much they appreciate them. But for someone who does so much for you, how do you fully show this appreciation? And for someone who does not want for much, what can you give them to show them how much they have influenced your life and relationship with Jesus?
Here are 11 simple, practical, and tangible ways to share your appreciation to pastors this month.
1. Handwritten Notes of Encouragement
A pastor’s role extends from preaching in the pulpit to community involvement. From discipling decision makers, to providing ministry outreach to the underserved, to advising community leaders, pastors have a large impact inside and outside of the four walls of the church building.
Let them know you trust them and their decisions. Acknowledge the hard work they’re doing. Offer words of encouragement and uplifting prayers. It may seem like a small gesture, but the little things really can go a long way in showing that you care.
2. Pray Over the Pastor
Set aside time as a church staff during the week or involve the entire congregation on a Sunday morning to gather around the pastor for a time of prayer. Lay hands on him. Pray over his leadership, his discernment, his household, and specific needs to him personally. These needs don’t have to be detailed but if something is weighing on his heart, pray for it.
3. Gift Card Drive
Pastors are used to collecting gift cards to distribute to those in need in the community.They’re not used to keeping them for themselves.
Hold a gift card drive for church members to donate gift cards to restaurants, gas stations, home improvement stores, or general Visa gift cards that can be used anywhere. Encourage your pastor to take his wife out on a date. Or tell him to go out and buy that “something special” he’s been eyeing for a while.
Pastors need to have periodic weeks off from preaching. If your pastor carries the weight of preaching every single week, pastor appreciation month is the perfect time to help him out. Consider hosting a guest speaker on Sunday in October to give your pastor the week off.
Pastors pour into so many people each week but sometimes they need to be poured into themselves. Give them this chance. Let them have a break from preparing sermon notes and preaching multiple services back to back to sit back, relax, and have a front row seat to an encouraging sermon.
5. Honor Your Pastor with a Video
The possibilities are endless for a social media video.
If you have a funny youth pastor, post a blooper reel of funny things he’d said throughout the year or those ridiculous youth skits we all know and love. Create a fun song parody celebrating unique traits of your pastor and acknowledging how much he’s done in the local community. For your lead pastor, maybe you want to do something a little more serious with a compilation of staff or members saying “thank you” or sharing specific things about their pastor that inspires them.
Whatever approach you decide to take, honor and celebrate your pastor’s personality throughout the video.
6. Celebrate the Collective Team
Don’t leave any pastors out. It’s common to hear “pastor appreciation” and only think about your lead pastor. But, for most churches, there are several pastors on staff. Your youth pastor is just as important as the lead pastor who is just as important as the executive pastors. Celebrate every pastor in your church, their unique roles, and their personalities.
The church is able to function and provide life-changing ministry because of the work of ALL its pastors. Celebrating just the lead pastor may cause friction between the collective team. Avoid this by celebrating all the pastors in your church.
7. Homemade Goods
There’s a member of my church who brings in about a dozen plates of cookies each October. That’s not a dozen cookies total but a dozen plates filled with two dozen of the best cookies you’ve ever eaten. Clearly, she puts a lot of labor, time, and love into this gift. She brings a plate for each pastor and always makes sure to bring a few extra plates to share with non-pastoral staff too. It’s something that all the pastors (and staff) look forward to all month long,
What is your pastor’s favorite treat? Maybe it’s homemade apple pie, cookies, or cake. Maybe it’s not homemade. Maybe it’s chocolate truffles from a local shop down the street or ice cream from Cold Stone. Whatever it is, surprise him with it sometime this month to share your appreciation.
8. Include Pastoral Spouses
Our pastors do a great deal for our church. But let’s face it, so do their spouses. Their spouses cheer them on and work tirelessly for the church.They volunteer countless hours and serve selflessly. When a pastor comes carrying the stress and weight of ministry, it’s their spouse that helps them shoulder the burden. Acknowledge the pastoral spouses as well this month.
This could be as simple as addressing the card to both the pastor and his wife, including an extra plate of cookies for the spouse, or encouraging your pastor to take out his wife to dinner with a gift card to their favorite restaurant.
9. Pictures with the Pastor
Pastors really do love seeing your social media posts about the church. Post a picture with them and share your experiences at church events. Maybe your ten-year old accepted Christ as summer camp, share a picture of them enjoying the fun with a caption about how their life was changed forever. Maybe you were prompted to make an incredible life change after a sermon series; share a picture of you at church with your pastor with a caption that celebrates the amazing impact you’ve had on the Kingdom of Christ since this decision. Not all social posts need to be serious, share a fun picture of you and your pastor at a photo booth with an uplifting, encouraging caption for him.
Take the time to encourage your pastor both privately and publicly.
10. Sentimental Sharing
While gift cards are great, sometimes pastors crave more personal appreciation. Most pastors are very sentimental and love to hear your experiences that have come from a specific message series or sermon. Share how the Lord worked in your life after a message from the pastor. This does two things. First it encourages the pastor by showing him that yes, people are actually paying attention during the services. Second, it helps to validate his obedience to the Lord. Give your pastor a call or stop him in the lobby before or after service to share how one of his messages has personally impacted your life. After all, pastors don’t preach just to hear their own voice. They preach in hopes that the message will impact and change the lives of those who hear it.
11. Customized Gifts
What is your church story?
Over the years, I’ve heard my pastor tell the story of the founding of our church multiple times and I join in his celebration each time he tells it. 24 people gathered in a crowded, borrowed living room one Sunday in 1987 and Steven Creek Church was born, growing exponentially from that time.
Have a picture painted by a local artist of the original or current church building. Have a plaque inscribed with the founding date and the church’s mission statement. Present him with a watch that has the year that church was started engraved on the back.
The church story is something important to us all, but especially the founding pastor. Celebrate this story with him during this month.
Use some (or all) of these ways to celebrate your pastor this month. They are always pouring into us, giving back to the community, and making sacrifices to advance the Kingdom of God. Let them know you see their hard work and appreciate their obedience to the Lord. You don’t have to break the bank to make your pastor feel appreciated. Simply Take the time to pour back into these amazing individuals with encouraging words and meaningful gestures.
*Information gathered from Holidays Calendar