How to Encourage Church Leaders This 'Pastor Appreciation Month'
2020 has been unpredictable, unstable, and unlike any other year in recent history. Churches were forced to pivot overnight and build completely new ministry strategies to reach their communities. In the same way, church attendees were compelled to change the way they attend a worship service, engage with other members, and participate in Christian community
However, one thing that does not have to change is the way we show pastors our appreciation for all they do.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month
We are fast approaching October, which happens to be Pastor Appreciation Month. This celebration was established in 1992 with the mission of uplifting and encouraging pastors, missionaries and religious workers. And, in 2020, they could probably use a little more encouragement than normal.
Why It’s Important to Encourage Pastors
At Summit Conference 2019 in Dallas, TX, Carey Nieuwhof polled a live audience of more than 1,300 church leaders. He asked, “Over the past year, how many times have you experienced burnout symptoms?”
A shocking 46% said they’ve experienced burnout once or twice in the past year. Another 38% said regularly (3-6 times) in the past year, and 9% said constantly. That’s 92% of church leaders who have experienced burnout in the past year. And this was last year, before any of us had heard of COVID-19. What would the survey results look like now, if we asked 1,300 church leaders the same question today? I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing it would be closer to 100%.
Why? Pastors and church leaders went into ministry because of purpose and calling. They want to help people. They want to share the good news, make heaven more crowded, and make the world a better place. But today, the stresses and expectations of the role mean pastors have far less time to pray and care for the spiritual needs of their congregation. Additionally, as a result of our politically charged and divided culture, pastors often feel pressured to speak about current events and issues dominating the news cycle.
A senior pastor recently said to me, “This is not the job I signed up for. I went into ministry because I wanted to share the same grace and forgiveness I found from God with others. But today, I am forced to talk on things I know very little about.. It’s challenging. For the first time in my 35 years of ministry, I have contemplated resigning more often than ever before.”
So, what can you do? Here are a few little suggestions that can make a big difference in the life of your pastor.
Non-Monetary Ways to Celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month
A handwritten thank you note
Though this may seem insignificant, oftentimes written words can be the most encouraging for a pastor to read. Pastors are continually fighting the mental battle that they are not doing a good job. A handwritten note is something they can continually go back to as a source of strength.
An encouraging text message or video from your smartphone
With the power of a smartphone, you can send encouragement through the click of a button. Craft a heartfelt message and send it via text to your pastor, expressing your appreciation for them. Make them laugh, or reflect on easier times, and they’ll remember why they do this for a living.
Or you can flip the video around to selfie mode and film yourself — and your family — saying nice things to your pastor. Because many churches are still not gathering in physical locations, they would love seeing your faces!
A social post
If you don’t have the ability to text them, post a message on social media using their handle. Maybe share your favorite bible verse, or tell them you’re thinking back to one of your favorite sermons. Oftentimes, this will go directly to their phone. And if it’s a public post, it may remind others who see it to do the same!
Monetary Forms of Encouragement
Generous Giving – Make an financial contribution to your church that’s a little more than usual
Churches sometimes offer a giving fund option in the month of October where people can express their generosity directly to that fund. This goes straight to your pastors and will be a great blessing to them heading into the holidays. If your church doesn’t have a Pastor Appreciation Month fund, maybe contact your church’s office and request the option to give directly to your pastor as a “special gift.”
Prepare a gift basket
If a financial contribution is not the route you want to go, preparing a gift basket with snacks and goodies is a great way to create something more personal without breaking the bank. You can even include a gift card to their favorite restaurant – a dinner date on you will always be greatly appreciated by your pastor.
There are so many ways we can come alongside our church leaders to let them know we see them, we hear them, and we appreciate them. Remember, a simple word of encouragement goes a long way, especially during this unprecedented time.
Troy Pollock, Chief Ambassador of Pushpay