October is Pastor Appreciation Month - Ideas to Honor and Bless Your Pastor and His Family
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
I love October for two reasons:
- I love all things fall
- It's a blessing to honor and bless my pastor and church leaders
Many churches do not celebrate this special month. I am sad, because pastors typically receive more criticism than thanks. I hope you and your church will not let this happen anymore. Let's start this month. Following are some ways to honor and thank our pastors.
Thank you cards and letters
This is pretty basic, but what an opportunity to bless your pastor and his family. Everyone loves to get a card - especially a card of thanks and appreciation.
One idea is to send out an email or letter to all the congregants asking people to make a thank you card out to the pastor and family and collect them in a basket and present it to him on a certain date during the service.
You could also just have everyone send cards directly to them. They will be blown away to get so many cards in the mail.
I like to get blank cards and write my own little note. It's more personal; however, one with a sentiment already in it is just as acceptable, but a few personal words should be included as you sign it. Even more wonderful is to make a card. You can do this with the kids as well. Homemade cards are so special.
Let's not forget letters (do you remember what those are?). If you are a good letter writer, find some nice stationery (do you remember what that is?) and lavish your pastor and family with affirming words and gratitude.
Include the whole family
ALWAYS include the family. The family shares him with you. The family comes with the pastor and as much deserving of honor as he is.
Give the children and spouse the same blessings as the pastor with cards, gifts, and all the rest. Personal notes to the kids and spouse can make a huge difference to them. And including the family blesses and honors your pastor all the more.
A gift of home baked goodies
If your pastor and family love edible, sweet goodies, go for it - all the way. I had a pastor who loved molasses cookies. Poor guy got tons of them every October, his birthday, and Christmas. Fortunately, he could freeze them. Make their favorite pie, cookies, candy, and desserts. Yes, they will get a little rounder, but you can all pitch in for a new outfit for Christmas, eh?
If your they are not keen on sweets, there are other baked goods or other edible, non-sweet delights. Use your creativity.
This is a special blessing. Everyone loves to get a gift. There are many ways to do this.
Here is a list of individual gifts to consider:
- Tuck in a monetary gift in the card.
- A gift card for a favorite coffee joint or make a gourmet coffee basket. In the basket you can put a package of gourmet coffee (find out first if he has a grinder so you don't give him whole beans if he doesn't), teas, and hot chocolate for the kids. Add mugs for a sweeter touch. There are so many different kinds of gift baskets to make.
- Books (all pastor's read books). Don't give him a Bible. He likely has more Bibles than he knows what to do with. The same with the family. Buy books in topics they enjoy. As an example, my pastor's wife loves Jane Austen, and gardening. DVD's are an idea as well.
- Magazine subscription. Find out first what they already have. Reading material of any kind does not necessarily have to be about spiritual matters. Like everyone else, they have many interests.
- Buy the family all haircuts, and/or pedi's and mani's.
- Tickets to sporting events for the whole family.
- Tickets to a concert or the movies.
- Give them the keys to your vacation home for some R & R.
- A nice tree or plant for the yard.
A churchwide gift could be some of the following:
- A large monetary gift.
- Tickets or paid trip to a get-away place - beach or mountain condo, cabin, hotel, etc. If possible, add a little extra money for meals or other fun stuff.
Again, consider your pastor and his families needs and likes and be creative. Perhaps they need a vacation, or they've been wanting or needing some big thing for some time. Whatever you decide,you can present them at a specific reception or banquet, or present it to them during the service.
Gifts don't have to come with just items; services can be every bit as a much of a blessing.
- Fix or service their car.
- Have a yard day where people go to his house and spruce up the yard.
- Do some home repairs or just add a new coat of paint.
- Spruce up his office (obviously with his permission).
- Take him and or his family somewhere they need or want to go.
- Give him free lawn mowing for a certain amount of time.
- Give him a car wash or several for the next few months.
- Make some meals for them. Find out what they can't have or don't like.
It helps to know what your pastor and his family enjoy. What do they like to do in their spare time? Where do they like to go for vacation? What is a need they have they don't mention often?
God gave us creative minds. This is a great time to use it.
Spruce up the yard
Reception or banquet
Have a cake and coffee reception after church in the fellowship hall. This is also a good time to give them their basket of cards an/or gifts. Give the pastor and his family special seats of honor and give people the opportunity to share something about how the pastor and his family members have been a blessing.
If you want to go all out, have a potluck rather than cake and coffee only. Or, if you have it in your budget, prepare a banquet and honor them the same way with words of affection and gratitude.
One day or all month
Some churches just set aside a specific day to honor their pastor. Others do something every Sunday in October.
For an all month celebration you can give cards and/or gifts one Sunday; have a reception or banquet another Sunday; a special music presentation another, etc. Maybe have a guest preacher to bring the message or to honor him. Have a children's Sunday program for him and his family. Perhaps have a special theme Sunday that would would recognize their interest in something - like a Hawaiian theme. The point is to do something every Sunday or during the week. Be imaginative and have fun.
Show appreciation year round
We can honor the pastor and their families every October and go back to old ways of unappreciative interaction. God calls us to serve daily, and to be good to those that shepherd over us. Make it a habit to say thank you often, give encouragement, do things in the church and not put the responsibility on him. Pray for him and his family. Ditch the yardstick and any unrealistic level of expectations. Expectations are unhealthy because everyone has them and they are all different, and in every size and color. The pastor can't possibly fulfill every expectation every parishioner has, nor does God require him to do so.
Treating and serving our pastor and his family well year round is the true gift of gratitude. If you have an idea, instead of saying "Pastor, we need to have a softball team," expecting him to make it happen, make it happen yourself. Pastor is busy doing many more important things. The Church is called to serve together, not just the pastor. The same is true for the pastor's wife. Many expect her to lead Bible studies, women's ministries, and many other things, regardless of her home responsibilities and her specific areas of giftedness. Some pastor's wives do not have the gift of teaching. Expecting her to put ministry before the welfare of the family is not fair or biblical.
Gratitude involves more than words, cards and gifts once a year. To fully show love appreciation, action is required. The Bible is full of "one another" statements. These include your pastor and his family.
A man who is continually criticised becomes good for nothing; the effect of criticism knocks all the gumption and power out of him. Criticism is deadly in its effect because it divides a man's powers and prevents his being a force for anything. That is never the work of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost alone is in the true position of a critic; He is able to show what is wrong without wounding and hurting."— Oswald Chambers
How we compensate our pastor speaks greatly of how we feel and appreciate about he and his family. If the budget is there, and he is not currently overpaid, a reasonable, within budge raise would be nice for he and his family. They have the same needs as we do.
I had a pastor one time who had been pastor for around 7 or 8 years and never once received anything but cost of living raises. I became chairman of a committee that deals with salary and benefits and I did some research in our denomination. He was in the bottom level in salary and benefits for same size churches, demographics, and other defining factors. We were in the black, and had been for a very long time and we could afford it. What message does this send to our pastor and his family? If you only give him just enough to scrimp by, in effect you are saying, we don't value you, or your family and their needs. So, in preparing for our annual church meeting I made a report with these very same statistics and comments. At the annual church business meeting, the congregation voted unanimously and with great joy a raise for our pastor.
There are many very small congregations who have to have a bi-vocational pastor because they simply cannot pay a pastor. This is understandable. However, the other suggested ways to appreciate the pastor and his family certainly are just as applicable.
Consider these verses:
- One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches (Gal. 6:6).
- Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle and ox when it treads out the grain," and "The laborer deserves his wages" (1 Tim. 5:17-18) * Note - in this verse "honor" means an "honorarium."
- In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel (1 Cor. 9:14).
The Boiler Room of Prayer
Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn't want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, "This is our heating plant." Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon.
Prayer for the Pastor and his family
I think every pastor (and his family) would be blessed beyond measure, beyond words, if they knew you were praying for them. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Here are some ideas, some of which were employed at one of my churches in the past.
♥ Have a special prayer service. This could be included in one week of the month or anytime of the year. How deeply meaningful to the family to hear the prayers of the flock for them. This can be very informal where people just pray out, or it can be more organized, with different topics of prayer. For example, in a prayer service you could pray for a variety of issues like the following:
- Pray for health and well-being.
- Pray for family blessings
- Pray for strength, wisdom, and anointing in ministry.
As the Holy Spirit leads, make a list of needs they may have. Have the pastor and his family come forward and lay hands on them. How deeply moving and personal.
Praying for your pastor
♥ Send your Pastor and/or his family a little note saying you are thinking of and praying for them.
♥ Organize a prayer ministry for the pastor. This is a biggie and it's powerful. We had this at a church I attended. We had a prayer team (rotating) meet every Sunday just prior to the Sunday service to pray with the pastor. They went around the church and prayed for all the ministry taking place that day and throughout the coming week. A prayer guide was sent out every month with Scriptures to pray for the pastor and his family, and prayer requests they might have. We had two prayer partners attend the annual leadership retreat where they planned for the year ahead, and opened in the morning with prayer for them all. Think of how often the pastor prays for you, and how hard he works. The ministry of a pastor is a hard one. They are under-appreciated, overworked, and criticized continuously. Pastor's and their families are judged so harshly for their ministry and family life. They live in a fishbowl, under constant scrutiny. Oh how they need prayer. And might I just add that we ought to be praying that we can be an answer to some of those prayers by being supportive, non-judgmental, kind, helpful, and many other ways.
♥ Make it a habit to pray for your pastor and his family regularly.
God bless our pastor's and their families for the endless sacrifices and hardships they go through to serve God as He has called them.
To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them." ~ John Calvin
© Lori Colbo 2014. All rights reserved.
More on how to honor your pastor
- 14 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor
An article by Rev. Dale A. Robbins, that explains how to be an encouragement to your pastor.
- 6 Prayers for Pastors or Leaders
The leaders and pastors have been called to do many things but faithful prayers of the church are a blessing to these men of God. Here are 6 prayers for pastors and leaders.
© 2014 Lori Colbo
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