October is Pastor Appreciation Month. A time set aside each year to honor and give thanks for our pastors who give, care and serve us and our communities in remarkable ways.
How exactly should we celebrate our pastors? They do so much for us. More than we ever know or realize on a daily and even moment-by-moment basis. How can we show them that we appreciate what they do, but also who they are to us and so many others? What is the perfect gift to express deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks?
Here are some ideas and suggestions to get your creative juices flowing. Select one or more of these ways to honor your pastor. It’s also a great time to thank and honor all of your church staff.
1. Write lots and lots of letters.
On the Sunday before Pastor Appreciation Day or anytime the month prior, distribute stamped envelopes addressed to the pastor. Include an instruction note inviting each church member to write and mail a personal note of encouragement and appreciation to the pastor during the week. Social media posts of praise are nice and always welcome, but a hand-written note is such a treasure these days. Take time to express personally what your pastor means to you.
2. Ask all ages to participate.
Laminate bookmarks created by the children in your church, featuring their artwork and signatures. Allow kids to present the bookmarks to the pastor personally. Ask the pastor to stop by the children’s ministry area for a visit and share a prepared song of thanks with him.
Teens and young adults can write letters as well. Or create original pieces of artwork, collaborate on an original song to share with the pastor during a worship service or a visit to his office, or volunteer their time at the church office to help clean or organize. With the pastor and church staff’s permission, of course!
3. Document special moments and places.
Prepare a beautifully framed photo or painting of your church building. Even better: Take a group photo of church members in front of the building. Use extra wide matting and ask every church member to sign the mat before adding the frame.
Enlist skilled photographers to capture moments of worship and ministry throughout the month. Compile the images in a beautiful custom photo album for the pastor to reflect on throughout the year. Even better: Treat the pastor and other church staff to individual photo shoots for each of their families. Gift them framed prints or a custom photo album or both.
4. Provide the resources your pastor needs.
Purchase select volumes or a full set of Bible commentaries to aid your pastor and other church staff members in research and study for sermons, Bible studies and discipleship classes.
Encourage various groups, such as Bible classes, committees or church ministry teams, to present one book of the set, individually wrapped with their personal notes of appreciation on the inside pages.
Two popular series to consider are Christ-Centered Exposition and The New American Commentary
5. Add new books to his library.
Most likely, your pastor has a large and growing library of resources comprised of both personal interests as well as volumes on church ministry and growth, leadership and theology. Encourage his love of study and reading by adding some new books to his stack of must-reads.
Pastors and church leaders should be encouraged, celebrated and graciously thanked all year long.
6. Publicly proclaim your thanks.
Take out a full-page ad in your local newspaper, featuring a photo of your pastor and a declaration of your church’s love and appreciation. Even better: List every member’s signature in the ad. Create a presentation of photos and video of the pastor(s) in action during the past year. Set it to music and play it as a pre-worship service video each Sunday during October.
7. Spruce up his office.
Do a surprise office makeover, with the pastor’s wife’s input, of course. Consider fresh paint, updated décor, flowers and plants, new furniture and even a computer or technology upgrade. Ask different Sunday School classes and small groups to tackle a different aspect of the redo.
8. Shower him with his favorite things.
Think of all the treats, hobbies and interests your pastor enjoys, such as M&Ms, dark roast coffee, running, a favorite sports team, fishing and camping, etc. Ask each member or ministry group to bring a small memento related to one of these favorites, i.e., a bag of candy, hat, travel mug, fishing lure, gift cards. Designate a drop off area for the treats and surprise him at the end of your worship service one Sunday in October.
9. Volunteer your time.
Most churches have a shortage of volunteers to serve in various ministry roles each week. And it’s a source of stress for most pastors and church staff. This year give them the gift of your time and commitment for Pastor Appreciation Month — volunteer to serve on a consistent basis if you don’t already. It will make his day and he will appreciate the support every time you serve.
10. Celebrate his wife.
Showing your love and support to your pastor’s wife and all church staff members’ wives will bless and encourage your church leaders more than you know. Include your pastor’s wife when you write your note of appreciation — or better yet — send one specifically to her. Pray for her and their family, and let her know when you do. Remember that being a pastor’s wife is challenging and comes with a lot of unrealistic expectations. Thank her for all that she does because she does a lot. Many things you may never know about.
She will enjoy a thoughtful gift or treat during Pastor Appreciation Month as well.
Most of all remember that while October is set aside as Pastor Appreciation Month, our pastors and church leaders should be encouraged, celebrated and graciously thanked all year long. So shower them with love, understanding and support every day of the year.
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