Pastor Appreciation Day is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of October. That’s just around the corner, so now is the time to be thinking about how you and your congregation can best show gratitude on October 9 (and throughout the year!).
Here’s our ultimate guide for Pastor Appreciation Day. First off, let’s talk about how this annual observance got started…
Pastor Appreciation Day: A Brief History
Pastor Appreciation Day began as “Clergy Appreciation Day.” The idea of showing appreciation for your Clergy, Pastors, or Church Leaders is Biblical; it can be traced all the way back to Paul’s New Testament letters. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul says:
“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 emphasizes that Pastors should be considered worthy of double honor for assuming this role in His church and doing it well. But of course, such an important role can also lead to double stress, which is why congregations need to celebrate and encourage those in leadership.
Clergy Appreciation Day/Pastors Appreciation Day became more “commercial” in early 1990’s; in 1992 Hallmark began offering greeting cards, and in 1994 Focus on the Family took the initiative by reminding congregations to make October special for their Pastor. With the growth of media and technology, the idea that sprang from Paul has evolved and spread to congregations around the world.
Pastor Appreciation: Why It Matters
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. This can be an overwhelming task! One that can lead to a lot of stress, late nights, long hours, and very often heartache and sadness. Great Pastors seek out opportunities to serve whether it is within their ministry or outside the church walls; they simply love to help others and share God’s love. With time, money, meals, encouragement, leaders always want to lend a hand. Pastors do so much for their congregations and communities. But are they given back to very often?
Pastors also do their best to appear strong and stoic against the many challenges they face. So it can be easy to assume that they are “doing fine.” But they’re human. At the end of the day, they are like us – part of the body of Christ – and should be celebrated. We should all appreciate our Pastors and encourage them as much as they encourage each of us.
It’s a good idea to keep this in mind throughout the year. But Pastor Appreciation Day is a time to be very focused on our Pastor. It’s a day to think specifically about their needs and determine how individuals and congregations can thank and encourage them.
Pastor Appreciation: How to Celebrate
So that’s what Pastor Appreciation Day is, how it got started, and why it’s important. The next question is: How do we put it into practice?
Prayer is best place to start – it costs nothing and means everything.
Make sure to give careful consideration to how you can best pray for your Pastor. Are there any specific challenges your church is facing? Are their problems in your community that might be on your Pastor’s mind? Pray specifically for God to give your Pastor the strength, wisdom, and resources needed to tackle these issues.
And feel free to tell your Pastor that you’re praying for them; just knowing this can lift a Pastor’s spirit and build their confidence. Plus, it may spark a more meaningful conversation than you’ve ever had with your Pastor!
Prayer is a spiritual act of appreciation. What if you want to add to that with some tangible expressions of gratitude?
There are many gifts to consider that come in many different shapes and sizes and do NOT need to have a big price tag. Here are eight ideas for unique gifts you can create yourself, or collaborative “thank you” presents that multiple people can volunteer to help make happen:
- Homemade Crafts
If you’re crafty (or even if you’re not!), you can create a handmade gift that shows you’re thinking about your Pastor. A simple card that features encouraging words or Bible makes a thoughtful gift. Craft stores like Hobby Lobby have seemingly unlimited supply of craft kits for do-it-yourselfers. You can Christmas ornaments, picture frames, or other keepsakes that will show your Pastor that you put some thought and effort into appreciating them.
- Homecooked Meals or Delicious Snacks
Food is another small, personal gift that you could give your Pastor. Especially if they have a family, meals add another task to already busy schedules. One meal can bring hours of closeness and rest to your Pastor and family. If you have a special dessert or treat dessert that you’re known for, make a batch for your Pastor. Everyone loves a yummy reminder that they are appreciated!3. Babysitting
You can arrange babysitting for an evening so your pastor can “take the night off” and go out without bringing the kids along. You could even make it a “date night” for the Pastor and their spouse, with gift cards for dinner and a movie. Babysitting can be a great job for a trustworthy teen in your parish who has experience with kids. (You definitely want to check with your Pastor before planning for something like this, to be sure of the best days and times.)
- Housework/Yard Work
These are two things that never go away. Offering to do some housework or yard work at the Pastor’s home so they can enjoy their weekend or the day off would be a nice gesture. We see Pastors so often at the church building, it’s easy to forget that they have a residence to maintain. Helping out with a Pastor’s household “to do” list is a great way to show appreciation.
- A Relaxing Getaway
Get the church together and plan a stress-free vacation getaway for your Pastor and family. Rest and relaxation are always appreciated. It doesn’t have to be fancy or faraway. Is there a church member who has a lake house nearby that they’d be willing to share for a few days? Or perhaps someone has extra rewards points with a hotel that can be used for a getaway. A change of scenery can be energizing. And it can be a time for your Pastor to renew their relationship with God while spending good quality time with family.
- A Churchwide Celebration
Put together a party! Gather the church and play some music and games. Have some tech-savvy church members create a video celebrating the Pastor. Ask church members to bring a card or handwritten note sharing what the Pastor means to them. You can provide food or snacks and make Pastor appreciation a time of fellowship with the church family. (And you can create a dedicated website page to promote the event and encourage RSVPs and registration!)
- Volunteer To Help a Different Ministry in Your Church
There are many ways to serve in the church. All you need to do is raise your hand. This is more noticeable in smaller congregations, but volunteering your time to help any ministry, big or small, will relieve some stress for your church team and ultimately help your Pastor to know that they are not alone in building the church and sharing God’s love with others.
- Show Up
This sounds simple, right? But you can show your appreciation by showing up to events, classes, services, and other church functions. Pastors notice attendance. They put time, effort, and resources into preparing for events, and seeing a big turnout is a rewarding feeling. So make sure to take part in church events and encourage others to join you. When you put in this effort, it will help strengthen and uplift your church. That’s something your Pastor will definitely appreciate.
These are some great ideas for you and your church to work with – and of course, feel free to come up with your own Pastor appreciation strategies! You know your church. You know your Pastor. Get together with fellow church members and brainstorm ways to show your gratitude.