With all of the ‘extra’ holidays that seem to be filling our calendars, one I can get behind is Pastor Appreciation Day, or Clergy Appreciation National Day of Honor, as Hallmark dubbed it in 1992.
Pastor Appreciation Day always falls in the month of October. Even if your church doesn’t have much of a budget for a gift, there are plenty of ideas that don’t cost much and will show your pastor just how much you value them.
Organize a Community Outreach Event
Most pastors will tell you nothing makes them feel as if they are really making a difference than when they see their flock, whether they be fellow ministry leaders or congregants, growing in their relationships with Christ. It’s similar to the feeling teachers have when their students show they are making progress by passing a really difficult exam or finding success in a chosen career field.
For pastors, seeing the people they mentor serving other people and making a difference in the community can give a thrilling sense of accomplishment and encouragement.
If your pastor is the one who is always coordinating community outreach events or thinking of ways to help people in need, consider planning a service activity and surprising your pastor with the fully formed plan. But do make sure it is a fully formed plan. If you just suggest the idea of a service project but then your pastor has to coordinate the said project, it really misses the point of the gift.
Ideas to consider can include a mobile food packing event, a clothing or food drive, or the beautification of the landscaping on your church grounds.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation have been a part of the Christian tradition since day one. Literally. One could argue that Jesus brought forth the forming of the church itself when he affirmed that Peter was the rock on which His (Jesus’s) church would be built (Matthew 16:18).
Here’s the idea: Have everyone in the church either write or record an affirmation for your pastor. There are a few different ways to prompt congregants to come up with affirmations. An affirmation is really just a fancy way of saying something that is as encouraging as it is true about someone.
Adult Prompt Ideas:
- What is one of your pastor’s greatest strengths? When have you seen this strength in action?
- What do you appreciate about your pastor?
Don’t forget to include the kids. They will undoubtedly have the best responses in the entire congregation. Use the opportunity as a Sunday school craft project and get those brilliant minds and busy little hands creating.
You can have the kids write or draw their own responses or you can record them on video (which you could then show on the day itself in service). Either way, it’s guaranteed to melt the heart of any pastor, no matter how battle-scarred or weary they may be.
Kid Prompt Ideas:
- What makes your pastor a good pastor?
- What do you like most about your pastor?
You can collect the congregation’s responses in a myriad of ways, including using a Google document that everyone has access to. What a way to give encouragement!
If you choose to do a video, you may need to get creative to coordinate times people can record these affirmations. You can also have your congregants record their own video using their phones. Be sure to give them some prompts and an example, and they can do the rest. Then have a video-savvy volunteer stitch the videos together and voila, your pastor will have their very own tear-jerking affirmation video.
Don’t Underestimate a Thoughtful Gift
A thoughtful gift can speak volumes about how much you appreciate all your pastor does for your church.
Here are some solid ideas for more tangible gifts you can organize:
- Tickets to a concert: Is your pastor’s favorite artist coming to town? Don’t forget to include a ticket for a spouse. If your pastor has children, arrange for them to be taken care of by a trusted sitter. Or, if it’s a family-friendly concert, consider including the children in the gift.
- Scripture art: A lot of pastors have a favorite verse or a life verse. Find out what this is for your pastor and then find it in artwork. You can find beautifully designed Scripture art all over the place these days, including Etsy. You might even think about commissioning an artist to make something custom for them.
- Weekend away with spouse or family: Sometimes pastors have a hard time taking vacations. But if you, a member of the staff, or a group of elders organize a weekend away, your pastor might have trouble refusing. Be sure to cover the pastor’s duties at church while they are out of town. It would be a good idea to consult the pastor’s spouse if they are married. They can give you a good idea where the pastor would enjoy going and when. Arrange as many of the details as you can to make the gift truly hassle-free.
However you choose to honor your pastor this Pastor Appreciation Day, get as many people involved as you can. One way to do this is to ask people to come up to pray for your pastor during a church service. Make sure any worship leaders know this is going to happen and coordinate a good time during the service.
If your congregation isn’t used to this kind of spontaneous prayer, plan for who will pray and speak to these people beforehand. Include children and young people in these plans. More often than not they are happy and willing to pray for other people, especially people they look up to.
However you choose to appreciate your pastor, remember that every day is a good day to let someone know how they are impacting your life.