The history of appreciating those whom 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 (1 Timothy 5:17). In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, he stated that those whom 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, October became known as Clergy Appreciation Month and was designated as a time to honor pastors and religious personnel. Churches choose many ways to honor their pastors or celebrate their work in the church and community.
When Matt Tomlin was pastor at Smith’s Grove, Ky., he commuted to Southern Seminary in Louisville to complete his Master of Divinity degree.
“The deacons encouraged me to complete my education and receive this degree. Pastors need to be prepared and equipped to serve God and His church,” said Tomlin. “Instead of a month-long celebration, this lasted about 24 months!” Allowing a pastor to continue an education is one of the greatest ways to show appreciation to a pastor, he said.
Charles Frazier, pastor of Zion’s Cause in Benton and current president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, shared several ways he has been honored for Pastor Appreciation Month.
“Our church has an annual Harvest Party they combine with Pastor Appreciation Month,” said Frazier. “In this fall get-together, they have a meal and present us with a gift. As our adult children live a distance away, one year they gave us a Delta Credit Card to purchase plane tickets. Another time, the women of the church gave us a handmade quilt, sort of a friendship pattern with signatures from church members.”
Pastor Frazier has been at Zion’s Cause for 14 years. He adds, “It’s always nice to be remembered. This is a loving church and I feel blessed to serve this congregation.”
Joe Ball, pastor of First Baptist Church of Russellville, serves a historic congregation that has been very active in Kentucky Baptist work. Founded in 1818, the church is celebrating two centuries of ministry. Ball reflected on how he has been honored during Pastor Appreciation Month.
“One Sunday after the service, the church presented us with a gift card for a meal out in a fine restaurant. Another time the recognition came in the form of ‘A Dessert a Month.’ During each 12-month period, a delicious dessert would appear on my desk. My family always looked forward to these special days.”
If your church is wondering how to observe Pastor Appreciation Month, perhaps these suggestions will help. Most important: Do something. Don’t neglect to say “thank-you” for the pastor who is always there for you.
• Expand his book collection. Encourage your pastor to keep his personal library up-to-date by purchasing Christian books or Bible commentaries. Perhaps a Sunday School class, Bible class, or church committee could present him with a book over the next several weeks.
• Decorate his office door. Involve even young children in honoring their pastor by drawing “happy” pictures and taping to his office door. Children can be instructed to draw a picture of how they feel when they come to church.
• Plan a church-wide meal. What are your pastor’s favorite dishes? Plan a luncheon or dinner honoring him 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.
• Mail letters. During October pass out stamped envelopes addressed to the pastor. Ask the congregation to write a short letter to their pastor expressing their appreciation of his leadership.
• Small things mean a lot. What are your pastor’s favorite things? Ask a few members to bring his favorite candies or snacks. Does he fish or play golf? Bring a new fishing lure or a box of golf balls.
• Gift a day. Ask Sunday School classes or other church organizations to work together on an Appreciation Calendar. Each day, the pastor will receive one small items or gift. Selections might be a gift card for coffee at a local coffee shop, a homemade apple pie, movie tickets for him and his spouse, or a car wash. Imagine how appreciated he will feel at the end of the month!
• Place a newspaper ad. Let others in your community know you appreciate your pastor. Take out an ad in the local paper (with his picture) telling others about your pastor and your church.
• Update his church office. How long has it been since the church office was redecorated? When visitors stop by, what is their first impression? Work with a committee to purchase new flooring and furniture if needed.
Most important: Pray for your pastor. Support him by your attendance and commitment. Be cooperative and loving toward others. Honor God by honoring His servant.
Carolyn Tomlin writes for the Christian market and teaches the Boot Camp for Christian Writers.