Pastor appreciation month has arrived. Appreciation month offers an opportunity for churches to give something back to their pastors and to say, “Thank you; you matter.” Acts of appreciation honor and encourage a pastor’s faithfulness to his calling.
Appreciate your pastor’s wife and children, as well. They carry part of a pastor’s ministry burden through unseen efforts. Appreciate your church’s other vocational ministers, too.
Discover what will matter to your pastor’s family by doing two things. First, ask your pastor what you can do to make his wife and their children feel valued. Second, ask your pastor’s wife the same question, focusing on your pastor. Give both a few days to answer, and follow up with them. They will appreciate that you are trying to do something meaningful. Make sure you do at least one thing from each list.
We asked New Mexico pastors for some sample appreciation ideas. We assured them that we would not identify them or their church. Here are the ideas they shared.
Give an Amazon or bookstore gift card. Many pastors love books, especially when they get to pick them.
Give restaurant gift cards for popular restaurants.
Give a Wal-Mart gift card. It can be used for many kinds of items.
Offer babysitting for a pastor and wife date night.
Arrange to give your pastor a money tree. Those unfamiliar with the practice of a money tree can search online for “money gift tree” to find many options and ideas.
Host a pounding. This old-fashioned practice fills a pastor’s pantry. Ask what food items his family needs and publish a list. Filling their pantry with useless items is not appreciative.
Wives may enjoy certificates for a massage, a spa experience, a nail appointment, etc.
Send your pastor to a conference that interests him (and will benefit the church).
Send your pastor and his wife on a paid weekend away together. Several ministries offer free weeklong pastoral retreats for which the church would only have to provide transportation to and from the retreat location. For example, Shepherd’s Haven of Rest Ministries (S.H.O.R., www.shorministries.com) offers such retreats.
Invite your pastor and his family to join your own family or a group of families on an outdoor outing and do all of the planning and preparation for them.
Offer a sabbatical during which the church arranges pulpit fill and covers congregational pastoral care needs.
Write Notes and Cards.
One pastor wrote, “I have often stood taller and gained strength from a simple card expressing appreciation, and even better if it offers specifics.”
Write a thank-you card or letter that shares how God has used your pastor’s ministry in your life or a note telling how your pastor’s ministry helps you treasure Jesus Christ.
Collect and deliver notes creatively. A congregation could prepare and sign a bunch of supersized cards. Or, members could write on post-it notes and cover the pastor’s study door with them. One pastor recalled arriving early on Sunday morning to find his door totally covered with post-it notes of appreciation. He carefully transferred them all to sheets of paper and placed them in a file folder in his desk for easy, frequent retrieval.
Speak Kindly and Specifically.
Thank your pastor for the sermon. Then, tell him specifically what you got out of it and how you are going to apply it to your life. One pastor remarked, “I really appreciate knowing how God is working in the members' lives through the messages and the ministries of the church.”
One pastor wished his members would abandon their assumed calling to keep their pastor humble. He said, “God will handle that part of a pastor’s life.”
During the public response time of worship, approach your pastor and say, “Pastor, I just want to pray for you and your family." Then, do it. A pastor commented, “People say, ‘I’m praying for you,’ but we seldom get to hear it.”
For several consecutive weeks, arrange an individual to publicly share a prepared testimony of how the pastor’s ministry has shaped his or her life. On the last Sunday, ask the pastor and his wife to come to the front and invite the congregation to gather around them for prayer. Four or five pre-arranged individuals can lead the group in prayer.
Recognize Them Publicly.
Have a personnel committee member or deacon present a formal recognition.
Plan a reception with favorite goodies of your pastor, his wife and his children. The reception’s style, simple or fancy, should honor your pastor and his family.
Do Something Practical.
One pastor said he would feel appreciated if members would participate in church activities other than Sunday morning or help at special events. Try it during October.
Pastors asked for smiles, rather than frowns.
Take your pastor’s car to be detailed, or at least washed and vacuumed. Fill up the gas tank.
Offer to repair something at your pastor’s home, and follow through.
Schedule someone to open and close the building, check the air conditioning, and take care of turning on and off the lights on Sunday and Wednesday.
Provide special resources for ministry. If such accommodations are possible, announce them during October, rather than waiting for a December budget vote. Tie them to appreciation.
One pastor said that he would feel appreciated if he could have a bigger book budget.
Provide a conference budget to attend state or SBC convention meetings.
Provide a small discretionary fund your pastor can use to share a meal with a member or ministry colleague, occasionally.
Merely showing interest in your pastor matters to him. Two pastors ended their response to our request for ideas by saying, “Thanks for doing this.” Our inquiry communicated that the Baptist Convention of New Mexico values them. Your interest matters, too.
Appreciation activities should encourage and refresh your pastor and his family. Avoid doing things because they are “fun for you.” Do not “roast” or poke fun at your pastor. Avoid sarcasm and “joking” comments.
There is still time for plenty of appreciating. If your great ideas spill over into November, your pastor will like that, too.