October has been designated as Pastor Appreciation Month, and on many Seventh-day Adventist calendars, the fourth Sabbath in October is Pastor Appreciation Day. This is a wonderful time to let pastors know, in various ways, how much their spiritual guidance, encouragement, and leadership mean to the congregation.
A possible theme for the day could be “Preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2), with a focus on the central role of pastors. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you,” and we are encouraged to remember our pastors both in prayer and with our appreciation.
Pastor Appreciation Day provides an opportunity to express gratitude to the pastor; however, the sermon itself should not focus on your pastor because the purpose of the sermon is to nourish the members and draw them to God. Words of appreciation to the pastor and the pastor’s family could be expressed during the announcement period or between Sabbath School and the church service; this could also be done during a potluck meal after the service, if that is practical for your congregation. A special presentation could be made during a youth meeting, where an interview with the pastoral family would be very appropriate, or the young people could plan a program around the theme of gratitude toward the pastor.
There are many ways that Pastor Appreciation Day can be used to let pastors know how much they are valued and appreciated. But perhaps it is even more important to look for ways to thank, encourage, and support pastors throughout the year.
Here are just a few suggestions; no doubt your congregation can think of many more!
1. Express gratitude for the pastor’s sermons. Since preaching God’s Word is one of the pastor’s most important responsibilities, show your gratitude through words of sincere appreciation.
2. Support the pastor in unexpected ways. Offer to help when your help is not expected, perhaps by making hospital visits, painting the Cradle Roll room (or the pastor’s kitchen), or even providing babysitting services so the pastoral couple can enjoy an evening out.
3. Celebrate the pastor’s birthday. A small gift or a party might be welcomed by the pastor and enjoyed by the members.
4. Recognize the pastor’s accomplishments. Be the first to appreciate the good things your pastor is doing for the church, district, and community, and let others know about them.
5. Organize a prayer team to pray for your pastor. Encourage the church to pray publicly and privately for the pastoral family and staff.
6. Always speak well of your pastor. Be a strong supporter and do your part to squelch gossip and criticism.
If your church doesn’t already celebrate Pastor Appreciation Day, why not start this year? As an elder, you may be the one to introduce the idea, but this does not mean you must do everything by yourself. Invite several members to work together to plan and implement activities that are appropriate for your congregation. Remember, everyone thrives on appreciation, including pastors and their families.
General Conference Ministerial Association