Pastor Appreciation Month is an opportunity for lay leaders to cultivate a culture of honor in their churches by recognizing their pastors.
Scripture is clear about the importance of honoring our pastors. So why is the pastor often the one who is left to initiate it? Church leaders can take full advantage of Pastor Appreciation Month as an annual opportunity to cultivate a culture of honor in their churches by appreciating their pastors. Here are four ideas to help prime your pastor appreciation pump.
Encourage your pastor personally
Pastors need encouragement every year but never more than this year when many are exhausted from the past two and a half years of juggling the pandemic, politics, and uncertainty.
The pastor’s job is to “keep watch over your souls” (Heb. 13:17, CSB). But sometimes he needs you to watch over him as well. Whether they’re leading successfully or failing miserably, in season and out of season, every pastor needs the respect and love of their church family.
“Regard them very highly in love because of their work” (1 Thess. 5:13, CSB).
Make sure your pastors know they are beloved members of your church family—not just employees who will eventually leave.
“Indeed, it is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:7–8, CSB).
Start by personally writing a note of appreciation or taking him to lunch or a fun activity. Clarify that your pastor and his family are beloved members of your church family and not just an employee.
Recognize your pastor publicly
“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you” (1 Thess. 5:12, CSB).
Respect is nothing more than a noble sentiment until it is formalized. Pastor Appreciation Month can help your church members translate private sentiments into public expressions of love, respect and appreciation for pastors.
A public blessing from the stage on Sunday morning increases the positive impact exponentially—for your pastor, his family, your church, and the Lord. Put the pastor’s family photo in the church bulletin or on social media and simply say: “Thank You!”
Bless your pastor tangibly
“Let the one who is taught the Word share all his good things with the teacher” (Gal. 6:6, CSB).
The pastor’s job is to take care of his church. And it is the church’s job to tangibly take care of their pastors. It is your pastor’s job and joy to keep watch over you (Heb. 13:17). But sometimes he needs you to watch over him—and his spouse—as well.
“The elders who are good leaders are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17, CSB).
“Double honor” is a financial term that Paul only uses here and reserves for those who served the church as pastors/elders/overseers. God’s people should pay their pastors generously, although no specific amount is given. Of course, it’s not God’s plan either for pastors to fleece their sheep or for churches to neglect their pastors.
Financial security is key to a pastor’s resiliency. The Southern Baptist Convention Compensation Study is a tool that helps churches benchmark staff salaries. And organizations like Guidestone help churches adequately protect, provide for and prepare their pastors for a strong finish.
“Those who preach the Gospel should earn their living by the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14, CSB).
Own the initiative
Scripture is clear about the importance of showing honor to all people but particularly to our pastors. Unfortunately, pastors often have the awkward job of equipping their members to do so. Although October is Pastor Appreciation Month, how many of your church members know or care?
Will you be the one to take the initiative to step up and lead out? If you do, I believe your church will follow your lead, and your pastor will appreciate your efforts tremendously.
“Take the lead in honoring one another” (Rom. 12:10, CSB).
My favorite Pastor Appreciation idea is to leave a blessing basket in the worship lobby on the remaining Sundays in October for people to leave cards and gifts for their pastors. Here are a few other ideas to help you bless them.
Aaron and Hur stepped up by lifting up Moses’s hands during a crucial battle: “When Moses’ hands grew heavy…Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down” (Exo. 17:12, CSB).
Your pastor needs an Aaron or Hur to do for him what he cannot do for himself.
October is a great opportunity for church members to honor and bless their pastors, but if your church calendar won’t cooperate, do it any time of the year like a key anniversary or birthday.
God bless you for blessing your pastor.