The Church needs a solid foundation to remain strong. Today, many churches rely on the ministry to be the rock their Church is built upon. That puts enormous pressure on pastors, priests, reverends, and ministers. This pressure can build up on the individual and their families and take a toll on the entire congregation. Pastor Appreciation Month was created to highlight the ministry’s role in the Church and give thanks for their work. Every year, the month of October is observed as the Pastor’s Appreciation Month or Clergy Appreciation Month and the second Sunday of October is celebrated as Pastor’s Appreciation Day.
In this article, we speak about the history of Clergy Appreciation Month, discuss why it is important to the Church, and give ten ideas on how to honor your ministry and their families.
Those entering the ministry do so because they feel called to the mission. While they may intellectually know the pressures they will face, the reality can feel different, and at times overwhelming.
Pastors are there during the most stressful and difficult times of our lives. When someone is sick or has died, during a divorce, or when life requires difficult choices, a minister is often the first person called. Their role as counselors and mentors is a vital part of the ministry.
Pastors hold this role 365 days of the year, and this is not a 9 to 5 job. It is common for preachers and priests to be called in the middle of the night. When preachers are not actively preaching or counseling, they are still expected to be role models and leaders in the community. A pastor’s family is also held to higher standards and can feel the stress just as deeply.
Preachers and ministers do not enter this field to make money. A pastors’ salary is usually lower than board members or deacons in the Church. It is not uncommon for a pastor’s wife to need a job to make ends meet. The financial and emotional stress can be overwhelming and lead to burnout and isolation that affects them and the congregation as a whole.
Example: Vision Baptist Missions ran a campaign to send help to their pastors. They wanted to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of these pastors for their extremely hard work serving in the underground. People were urged to help with donations to support the pastors who often faced financial stress.
According to Pew Research Center, 65% of adults identify as Christian in the United States. The Church’s involvement in our country’s history has been vast and has, at times, affected the direction of the country as a whole. The role of the clergy has always been crucial to churches and the communities where they are located. In the United States and throughout history, there is a long record of churches honoring their clergy. Congregations have found ways to support these individuals in various ways through the years.
In 1994, Focus on the Family, a global Christian organization, named October as Pastor Appreciation Month. The goal of this month was to promote a specific time of the year for members of the Church to financially support their ministry. Pastor Appreciation Month and Pastor Appreciation Day, celebrated on the second Sunday in October, have grown in popularity since their development.
As the month has been accepted and promoted by more churches and Christian media groups, ‘Focus on the Family’ has provided practices and suggestions and created their own Pastor Appreciation Guide to help congregations.
Churches should plan their celebrations for Pastor Appreciation Month early in the year to allow enough time to build a strong team and meet financial goals. ‘Focus on the Family’ also suggests that the second weekend of the month should include a special weekend service to honor the entire pastoral staff.
A personal note or card can mean so much on a hard day. If your congregation wants to show how much your pastor means to you, a message from each family in your Church is an excellent way to show your appreciation.
When planning for this type of thank you gift, it is vital to start early. Get a team of church members together and ask each of them to connect with different families. Give families ideas on what they could say, and assign a date for the congregation to send their cards to the Church. Once your church office has received all the messages, deliver the cards to your pastor’s home, office, or give a gift presentation during a Pastor Appreciation Service.
Local newspapers or radio stations can be an excellent place to publicly honor your pastoral staff. Depending on your location, the cost of placing an ad in the newspaper may be surprisingly affordable. Call the newspaper advertising office to get an idea of how much it will cost and find out if it fits in your Church’s budget. If you cannot swing it alone, you may be able to find a business or church members willing to sponsor your ad.
Include pictures of your clergy and a message of appreciation. A bible verse that speaks to why the pastoral staff is vital to your Church can help inspire others to give.
Pro tip: Remember to include the name, address, and website of your Church in the message. This ad can also be an opportunity to promote your Church to the community.
Sunday school teachers are always looking for ideas to get children involved and excited. Gifts, cards, and art projects from your Church’s children can be a beautiful way to show your clergy how much they bring to your community.
Children are creative and honest in their appreciation, so their gifts and art can be moving and memorable for years to come. Let the children speak from the heart and make meaningful gifts, but keep a close eye on their projects in case they accidentally add something inappropriate.
A way to let everyone enjoy this gift is to have the children of your Church present these cards and art to the preacher as a surprise during the Pastor Appreciation service.
Texts have gotten a bad rap for being impersonal and unprofessional, but they are also a quick and easy way to send several messages quickly. Your congregation can shock your preacher with a text event. Ask all church members to send a quick thank you message to your pastor’s number at the same time on a particular day.
Ask church members to give clear examples of how the pastor has impacted them and made a difference in their lives and faith. The influx of appreciation and love will surprise and amaze your pastor and give them an idea of how much they are valued.
Another way you can use texts to support your pastor is with a text-to-give campaign. You can invite your congregation to give to your pastoral fund.
Ask donors to send a text with your Campaign ID to the given number. In return, they should receive a link to your mobile-friendly campaign page. Donors can click on the link and make their donations directly from their phones. It’s also pretty quick to repeat donations the next time they want to support their pastor. Donorbox makes it a breeze for you and your donors. Here’s a quick video on how you can use our text-to-give feature – steps explained.
You can use these donations to purchase a pastoral gift from your congregation or create a fund to support preachers worldwide.
Pastors of small churches rarely have enough money to take a trip with their families or even to take their spouses out for a nice dinner. This October, your congregation can show their appreciation by purchasing a large gift for your pastor and their family.
Gifts can be for the preacher or their entire family and can include new shoes and a Sunday suit, an all-expense-paid trip for the family or couple, or some fun games and sports equipment for the children.
Pro tip: If you are worried a vacation is unaffordable for the Church, there are ways you can cut the cost. Does one of your church community members have a vacation home or air miles they can donate? Does anyone work for an airline or large corporation that offers in-kind gifts? Ask around and see how the congregation can contribute to this gift.
If a large present is out of the question this year, another way for church members to provide gifts is with a gift tree. Many churches use this idea during the Christmas season to collect donations for needy families in their communities and around the world. In the month of October, you can use this tree to collect funds or gifts for your pastor and their family.
Add a tree to your Church’s entryway. Place cards or envelopes on the tree that include specific amounts or gift ideas. Include a sign asking people to take a card. During church announcements or in the bulletin, you can explain how to take part and give a final date and location for gifts to be sent.
Pro tip: It is advisable to show flexibility here. Not all people would be comfortable sending gifts to a given location, or maybe, they would like it to be hassle-free. In that case, you should be able to offer ways to make it easier for them. Set up an online donation page in advance and those who are unwilling to send in-kind gifts or cheques to the pastor can give online. You can also ask them to donate an amount equivalent to the gift.
Even a simple donation page like the one below can help you collect gifts for your pastors during this event. Their recurring donation form inspires people to become monthly/quarterly/annual donors. This is an excellent way to get consistent help for your clergy members and their families.
Pastors work every Sunday, sometimes without a break for years. If your Church can give your preacher or minister a much-needed day off, they will definitely appreciate it. If your congregation has purchased a vacation or large gift for your minister, you can present them with this gift along with the day off to make a bigger splash.
Hire a guest preacher for the week or ask a deacon or board member to fill in. Remember to let your pastor know about this gift before Saturday or Sunday. It can take a whole week or more to create a powerful sermon.
Many churches offer free housing for pastors and their families in exchange for their ministry. On the surface, this is amazing, but most of these homes are older and a bit run down. On a preachers’ salary, home repair costs can be astronomical. Many preacher’s wives become expert DIYers to keep their homes and appliances running past their prime. Instead of a family vacation or gifts for the children, your congregation could make a significant donation and fix up your pastor’s home this year.
Raise funds to buy new appliances and ask for experts in your congregation to do the repairs for free. If you plan on making significant changes to the home, let your pastor and their family decide on the colors and design. The point of the project is not to let them lift a finger doing the hard work.
Pro tip: Ask local hardware stores for donations or discounts on new appliances. Open-box appliances offer affordable prices on brand-name items. Remember to get a warranty for the open-box items! They may have been returned for a good reason.
Preachers who do not receive free housing could still use help. New pastors to your community must find a suitable home for their family on a preacher’s salary. If you have added a new pastor to your Church, church members can help find affordable homes; they can clean up or paint the house before the pastor’s family moves in. Help with moving the family’s items can be highly useful as well.
Do you have pictures and videos of your pastor’s history with the Church? Have they taken mission trips with your congregation? Have they dressed up for your Church’s Christian pageant or a summer fair? Images like these make a wonderful addition to a video.
Ask your planning team to look through church memorabilia or their own pictures to find funny or moving images from the past. Include these pictures and videos with personal messages by congregation members. They should be about how the minister has made a difference in their lives over the years.
If you have an expert videographer in your Church or someone who likes to edit video in their free time, ask them to place these messages and images together. Include a few editing techniques to make it look more professional.
Preachers minister to more than just their Church. Often pastors, priests, and reverends take time to visit the homeless and elder communities; to give them messages of God’s love. The time and effort it takes to make these visits can be draining at times. Not all members of the public are open to the word of God.
If your pastor spends a good amount of their time delivering services to the public, congregation members can support their efforts, too. During October, ask members of the Church to sign up and attend these visits with your minister to elder homes or homeless shelters. Give them specific projects to do that day that can make the reverend’s visit more effective.
Sometimes a little help and company can brighten the day. It can help relieve a lot of stress that your clergy may feel about stepping out into the world.
Pastors, priests, reverends, ministers, and preachers are all essential parts of the Church. When they face isolation, depression, or become burnt out, this can affect the entire congregation. Pastor Appreciation Month is not the only time you should support your pastoral staff. Your appreciation can reflect in financial contributions, messages of love, or public announcements.
Whichever way your Church chooses to honor your pastoral staff, remember that pastors are human. That they can make mistakes like everyone else. Even Peter’s faith failed when he denied Jesus three times. The best way for congregations to honor their clergy is to pray for their strength and support their work for your Church.
Churches, like all nonprofits, must find ways to raise funds. Contributions from church members and the public are required to continue serving the community and spread God’s word. Donorbox offers affordable prices to churches of all sizes. Our online donation processor and additional features provide nonprofits with the ability to raise more funds online and reach a larger donor base. If your Church is looking for more ideas on how to raise funds online, run fundraising events, apply for grants or sponsorships, visit our blog.