By Carolyn Tomlin
Contributing columnist, B&R
“Pastors need to hear they are appreciated,” says Randy Kellough, pastor of Woodland Baptist Church in Haywood County. Woodland, a small Southern Baptist church, is like 27.4 percent of the churches in the United States. and ranges in size of 51-100 (LifewayResearch.com).
During Pastor Appreciation Day last year, the children of the church made a notebook and presented it to Kellough. Working on drawings and personal notes of “Why I Love My Pastor” they kept this a secret until the second Sunday in October. When they gathered for the Children’s Sermon, they delivered the notebook. “This is a book I will always treasure,” says Kellough. “To have the love and respect of children is a great compliment.”
Across our nation, 51,000 identify themselves as pastors or clergy (Bureau of Labor Statistics). At least 70 percent of people in the United States are identified as Christians (Pew Research Study). These people are in churches where their leaders are called upon for a multitude of various needs and are on-call 24/7.
The history of appreciating those God ordained goes back to Bible times. The apostle Paul wrote that the church elders were worthy of a double honor, especially preaching and teaching (I Timothy 5:17). In I 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 and a time to honor pastors and religious personnel.
In 1994, Focus on the Family, a global Christian organization, designated October as Pastor Appreciation Month. The purpose of this month was for members of the church to financially offer support to their minister. Pastor Appreciation Day is celebrated the second Sunday in October and Pastor Appreciation month is throughout October.
If your church is wondering “what” or “how” to observe Pastor Appreciation Month, perhaps these suggestions will help. Start early and involve others. Most important: Do something. Don’t neglect to say “thank-you” for the pastor who is always there for you.
(1) Increase his personal library. Encourage your pastor to keep his personal library up-to-date by purchasing Christian books or Bible commentaries. Ask the pastor for a “wish-list” of books he would like to add to his library. Give a gift certificate to a Christian bookstore.
(2) Decorate his office door. Involve young children in honoring their pastor by drawing “happy” pictures and taping to his office door. 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 three-ring binder to present to the pastor.
(3) Schedule a church-wide meal honoring your pastor and spouse. Plan a luncheon or dinner honoring them with wholesome food and good fellowship. Ask several members to share a time when their pastor was there for them or their family in a time of need.
(4) Express your appreciation in writing. Write a short letter to your pastor expressing your thankfulness of his leadership. Be specific.
(5) Send a text. Send a brief text expressing how important he is to you and to the church.
(6) Small things mean a lot. What are your pastor’s favorite things? Ask a few members to bring his favorite candies or snacks. If he fishes or plays golf, bring a new fishing lure or a box of golf balls. Give him a small potted plant with a card that reads: Thanks for helping me grow!
(7) Gift a day for October. Ask Sunday School classes or other church organizations to work together on an Appreciation Calendar. Each day, give the pastor a small item or gift such as a gift card for a local coffee shop, a homemade pie, etc. Imagine how appreciated his family will feel at the end of the month!
(8) Update his church office. How long has it been since the church office was redecorated? Work with a committee to purchase new flooring and furniture if needed.
(9) Family date night. Provide a wicker basket filled with food for one meal or a gift card to their favorite restaurant.
(10) Pray for and support your pastor. This may be the most important thing you can do. Support your pastor by your attendance and commitment. Be cooperative and loving toward others.
Honor God by honoring His servant. B&R —Tomlin is a pastor’s wife and writes for the Christian market and teaches the Boot Camp for Christian Writers. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org