The Ultimate Guide to Pastor Appreciation Day
Last Updated: September 2021
Pastor Appreciation Day is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of October. While it may seem your pastor gets enough appreciation from their loyal fans or the satisfaction of a well-delivered sermon, your pastor could likely use some appreciation. Consider this article as the ultimate guide for Pastor Appreciation Day and perhaps you would consider taking the whole month of October to honor and appreciate your pastor.
Regardless of where you fall on the introvert/extrovert scale, regardless of your role in the church and regardless of how much you think your pastor likes you or doesn’t like you, you can and should appreciate your pastor.
We can easily and far too often take our pastors for granted. It can be easy for us to criticize them on how good of a job they did on their sermon, saying things like:
“I wasn’t a big fan of their sermon today.”
“I didn’t really connect with their sermon.”
“I think they could have done a better job preparing or delivering their message.”
We far too often forget that they are human, and have a life, family and other responsibilities they have throughout the week. We can easily think that a pastor is just there to serve us and deliver a sermon that we want to hear and if either of these doesn’t go the way we want it to, we forget that our pastor also is pastoring an entire congregation. If we are not careful, we can fall victim to the spirit of entitlement where it becomes all about us.
Now, while this isn’t always the case and it may not be this extreme, it is something we all need to keep in consideration and remember that even if one person’s life is changed by the pastor’s message, then isn’t that what it’s all about?
Before we go any further, let’s look at how Pastor Appreciation Day started…
The History Of Pastor Appreciation Day
Pastor Appreciation Day started as “Clergy Appreciation Day”, the idea of showing appreciation for your Clergy, Pastors, or Leaders is very Biblical and can be traced all the way back to Paul’s new testament letters. Paul mentions this idea in a number of different letters that he writes to the various churches. Paul says this in his first letter to Timothy,
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” 1 Timothy 5:17 (English Standard Version).
Paul highlights the fact that our Pastors be considered worthy of double honor for assuming this role in His church and do it well. But, typically with double honor, you can expect double stress, this is why we need to make an even greater effort to celebrate and encourage those in leadership.
Clergy Appreciation Day/Pastors Appreciation Day was not commercialized until the early 1990’s, Hallmark Cards in 1992 and Focus On The Family led the charge in 1994 by making it a point to remind congregations to make the month of October special for their Pastor. Now with the growth of media and technology, the idea that sprang from Paul has now evolved and diffused into even more congregations around the world.
Why Pastor Appreciation Is So Important
Obey your leaders and do what they say. They are watching over you, and they must answer to God. So don’t make them sad as they do their work. Make them happy. Otherwise, they won’t be able to help you at all. Hebrews 13:17 (Contemporary English Version)
Your leaders are entrusted to watch over the entire congregation, small group, family group, etc. This can be a very overwhelming task and one that can lead to a lot of stress, late nights, and coffee. Leaders have a tendency to serve whether it is within their ministry or outside of the church walls, they simply love to serve and meet the needs of others. Whether it be time, money, meals, encouragement, leaders love to lend a hand. It is important to notice everything that your Pastor does for the congregation but what most people don’t realize is that they are not given back to very often.
They easily slip through the cracks and we assume that they are doing fine and they are getting their needs met. If everyone had this mentality then no one would be giving back to their Pastor.
That is why this time of year is most important. We should all appreciate or learn to appreciate our Pastors or Leaders and encourage them as much as they encourage each of us. Remember, your congregation out numbers leadership. Imagine if everyone did their part and served consistently. At the end of the day, your Pastor is still a part of the body of Christ just like us and they should be treated in the same way we treat our other brothers and sisters.
This is the one time during the year where we are reminded to consider our Pastor, think specifically about their needs and how you can personally or as a congregation encourage them and their family.
How To Celebrate Pastor Appreciation
Gifts are a great way to show your appreciation. Gifts come in many different shapes and have a range of prices on their tag. On one end, you can provide them with a simple card with encouraging words or Bible verses in them. You can be traditional and call them. You could go big and treat your Pastor and their family to a collaborative gift that multiple people volunteer to pitch in to buy or get for them. Get creative and put some thought into something that they will truly enjoy and be encouraged by.
Pastor Appreciation Gift Ideas:
Get the church together and brainstorm a relaxing vacation getaway for your Pastor and family. Rest and recuperation are always good to have. They can even take this opportunity to renew their relationship with God. And spend some good quality time together as a family.
Medical Insurance, not every church can afford to pay for their Pastor’s medical insurance. This could be a long-term goal that you could rally behind with the congregation and gather enough funds to get a medical insurance plan for them that is paid for by the church or at least partially paid for by the church.
Bring Your Pastor Food
Some of the smaller, more personal gifts that you could give to your Pastor are things like bringing them a meal. Especially if they have a family, meals are one of those things that can be easily overlooked when schedules are busy. One meal can bring hours of closeness and rest to your Pastor and family.
You can babysit their child(ren) for an evening so your Pastor can do whatever it is they want to do without having to bring the kids along. If they are married then they could go on a date, go out to dinner, etc. Check with your Pastor before going forward with all the planning for something like this.
In conjunction with the date night idea, you can pay for all or part of the date night package with a gift card to a place that they love or have never been to. You could even go as far as planning a whole night and expose them to something that you think is really special and would be truly encouraging for them. Again, the only caveat is that you put some real thought into this and focus on something that would encourage them and not necessarily something that you would personally enjoy but they would not find as encouraging or fun.
Throw them a party! Gather the church and play some music and games. You can provide food or snacks and make a night out of fellowship with the church family. Let your Pastor know how much you appreciate them for all the hard work they put in throughout the year.
Don’t misunderstand this point. Yes, your Pastor cares about you, but they are human as well and would like to have typical conversations and take a break from hearing about all the problems and the negative things that are going on in other peoples lives. Having a meaningful conversation can go a long way. Asking them about their problems and if there is a way you could pray specifically for them will bring a different vibe to the conversation.
Volunteer To Help A Different Ministry In Your Church
There are many ways to serve in the church and all you need to do is raise your hand. This is more noticeable in smaller congregations, but volunteering your time to help another ministry will relieve some stress for that ministry and ultimately help your Pastor to know that they are not alone in the fight.
Housework And Yard Work
These are two things that never go away. A nice gesture is to offer to do some housework or yard work at their house so they can enjoy their weekend or the day off. We are called to serve each other and what better way to do that than to clean someone else’s home or mow someone else’s lawn.
This may sound simple but show up to events, classes, service, etc. It is encouraging when you plan an event or a get-together and people show up. It takes time, effort, and resources for an event to happen and you have the ability to make it successful. Show up to things and focus on encouraging others and not dwell on the other things that you would rather be doing.
Ways To Encourage Your Pastor For Pastor Appreciation
Pastors, as human beings, could use some encouragement. When you think about it, most pastors have a tough job. While every job has its own share of difficulties and challenges, the pastor’s job often carries greater weight than many others. After all, God has commissioned pastors with the responsibility for spiritual oversight. That’s a tall order. What can you do to encourage your pastor?
Be An Active Listener
Encouraging your pastor isn’t just about the cliché act of washing their car. That’s great, but you can do something every Sunday that may be more encouraging than a clean car could ever be—listen well. Encourage them with an active demeanor, note-taking, and the occasional nod of understanding. They have spent hours getting ready for the teaching event; encourage them by being an active listener.
Be An Energetic Participant
Getting involved in church is more than just a Sunday morning event. Find ways to get involved in the church beyond mere attendance. The church needs volunteer participants like you in order to function. A typical church reports that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. Get involved and encourage your pastor by cheerfully sharing the load of the ministry.
Pray For Your Pastor And With Your Pastor
Prayer is huge. Pray for your pastor daily, in your own quiet time. Pray for your pastor as the service begins. Pray for them as they enter the pulpit to teach. Beyond private prayer, start a prayer time with others in the church for the specific purpose of praying for your pastor. You may also want to ask your pastor if they want to pray with anyone. Pastors may not be in the habit of praying with the people in their congregation, but if your pastor is able to do so, this time of prayer with your pastor can be a very encouraging time for them.
Support Your Pastor Financially
Scripture commands in several places that we support pastors with our money (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Corinthians 9:14). Hopefully, you will not do this out of a grudging heart or because you know the church is keeping track of who’s giving and who’s not. Whether or not your pastor knows you’re giving, you ought to do so. Small cash gifts, given personally, above and beyond your typical tithe, may also be an encouragement to them.
Speak Highly Of Your Pastor
Out of the entire list, this is probably the most significant means of encouragement. Pastors face a barrage of criticism. Immediately after the service, listeners scuttle to their homes or restaurants to hurl epithets of disdain and spite upon his sermon. Be an outspoken defender of your pastor. Scripture prohibits unkind speech, let alone unkind speech directed at pastors. For that reason, be vigilant to defend your pastor. Squelch criticism and never be guilty of dishing it out yourself. Speak highly of the pastor before your family, before others in your church, and before your pastor and their family.
Thank Your Pastor
Thank your pastor regularly. One of the marks of an encouraging person is the way that he or she expresses appreciation to others. As you thank your pastor, you are encouraging them. True thankfulness goes beyond the generalities. “Thanks for all you do, Pastor,” is fine, but there are even more meaningful ways to say “thank you.” Like this: “Pastor, the way that you explained verse five this morning was very helpful. I’ve written some things down in my Bible since I now understand that verse like I never have. I know it’s going to make a difference in the way that I interact with my kids. Thank you so much! I can tell you did a lot of studies to prepare for your teaching. I really appreciate it.” A thankful spirit like that takes longer and requires some thought, but it’s worth it. The occasional thank you note or email goes a long way too. True thankfulness encourages a pastor.
Be Kind To Your Pastor’s Family
The pastor is not the only one who has a tough job. Their family does, too. Constant observation, quick criticism, and life on a pedestal are not easy for the long term. Be effusive in your kindness toward the pastor’s family. Honor them like you do the pastor, but recognize that they’re real people, too. Pastors will be encouraged when they know that their family is being cared for.
Help To Meet Your Pastor’s Needs
Regular deeds of kindness and goodwill are an excellent way to show your pastor that you care. When your pastor notices that someone is mowing his lawn, washing his car, trimming his hedge, or cleaning out his gutters, they are encouraged. Recognizing that the people he shepherds appreciate his ministry and are giving back in tangible ways. Use your gifts, training, resources, or time, to encourage your pastor.
Surprise Your Pastor With Something Special
The big acts of encouragement deserve a mention, too. Pay attention to big events in your pastor’s life—a milestone in ministry, a significant anniversary, a birthday, or some other time. Use these events as an opportunity to give them some major encouragement. Plan a birthday party, an anniversary reception, or a special service to commemorate the event. There are other special ways to encourage your pastor. Sponsor a secret fundraiser to gift your pastor with a designated amount of money for them to take a vacation with their spouse. Grant them a sabbatical if you know they are wanting to write a book or attend a class. Give them a week or two from your vacation timeshare. Send them on a first-class cruise. Sponsor their trip to the Holy Land. Think big, and you will encourage your pastor in a big way.
The best encouragement that a pastor can receive is the gift of his people’s loyalty. If your pastor is a person of integrity, who loves Jesus, who is committed to God’s Word, and who faithfully shepherds their flock in a biblical way, stick with them. You may recognize his humanness and identify his weaknesses, but you can stick with him. Pastors need people to go through the tough times. They need you. Encourage your pastor by being loyal to them.
Grow In Grace
Nearly two-thousand years ago, the apostle John penned the heart-cry of nearly every pastor across the ages: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). If you really want to show appreciation — to give your pastor his greatest joy — walk in truth. Don’t do this just for your pastor. Do this because you’re a Christian and because Christians grow (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
How NOT To Celebrate Pastor Appreciation
This point may be obvious enough for most, but it is worth addressing even in brief. The goal of Pastor Appreciation is to do something or get something that is meaningful and hopefully something you have personally put some thought and effort towards. Here is a couple of gift ideas that you should avoid. Use your judgment, if you know that your Pastor would truly enjoy and be encouraged by any one of the following, by all means, go for it. The key is thinking about something that they would enjoy. Think outside of the box and strive for full-blown encouragement.
A Gift With A Secret Agenda
Perhaps you have seen a new leadership book you think they would love, or need. While you may have the best intentions of getting a book for them but the way they receive it is not in your control. You may genuinely want to help them in a specific area of their leadership but this could prove more hurtful than helpful. They might not think they need help in the area that the book talks about and this could lead to a number of problems. The same thing would also apply for wanting to send them to Bible school or higher education for their role as a pastor or leader. If they have expressed interest in these things, then go for it. If not, ask some of the church leaders or their family and pray about what the best gift for them should be.
Try and stay away from any gift that is too generic. For instance a greeting card with no personalized writing or message in it or new necktie. If your pastor loves neckties, by all means, get them the perfect necktie. The point here is a necktie could be perceived as a typical gift that won’t really mean much for the majority of pastors. Typical gifts don’t hold a lot of meaning or a sense of thoughtfulness to actually encourage them. Make it a little more personal. If you’re going to get them a card, perhaps you could write about something that they do that encourages you. Sympathize with them if they’ve had a tough couple of weeks. Let them know that you are there for them and that you are praying for them. It’s hard to pray for someone that you know nothing about. Get to know them and share your life with them and provide some encouragement for them as well.
A New Bible
It may seem innocent, but this is another gift that does not necessarily provide a sense of thoughtfulness for your pastor. Obviously, they could and will use a new Bible and would not turn it down if they receive it, but they probably already have a Bible, perhaps a library of Bibles. Hopefully, by now we have provided you with some insight into other creative options that you could get or do for your pastor to show your appreciation.
Bonus Pastor Appreciation Ideas
Adopt A Local Church
Send out a care package to other churches in your city or town to encourage other pastors in a peer-to-peer relationship. What about serving together? Teaming up with another local church and pursuing a serving effort together could bring about some much-needed spiritual refreshment.
Pastor Appreciation Service
Plan to have something special during the service for your pastor. This is a good time to thank them and express your appreciation for them. You could get the children involved and present a gift or have them share about your pastor. If having it during the service is difficult, you could plan something for after the service.
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