This article was originally printed in 2008 as a flyer by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod as part of Clergy Appreciation Month in October, also known as Pastor Appreciation Month. Clergy Appreciation Month was created in the early 1990's by Focus on the Family to honor the pastors and clergy who faithfully serve God's church and people, and it has since been adopted by churches and denominations around the country.
These are simple acts that you can do to help feed a shepherd, who works so hard all year long to care for and feed the flock God has entrusted to him.
1. Pray for your pastor. Ask God to shower your pastor with an abundance of love, hope, joy, faith, peace, power, wisdom, and courage. Pray for his maturity and growth in the faith, and that his work among you will be a source of joy for him.
2. Express appreciation verbally. Your pastor needs to hear words of encouragement. Consider sharing complimentary remarks to others about the gifts of your pastor, occasionally in his presence.
3. Express appreciatioin in writing. A spoken compliment is always welcome, but a written one can be read over and over again for years. So, when you hear or see something you like from your minister, write an appreciative note. Your pastor works hard to make worship a unique celebration each week; let him know you notice.
4. Celebrate at a special meal. Host a special celebration at which your pastor and his family are the honored guests.
5. Use your skills to share a blessing with your pastor. Are you proficient with computers? Help your pastor master the church's new computer. Are you a mechanic? Offer to service the car free of charge or at a reduced rate.
6. Live in peace. Do not get pulled into petty diversions that unnecessarily bring strife and discord into the group. Acknowledge the tremendous toll exacted on a pastor during time of conflict or crisis. If you hear a negative comment, respond with a positive one. If misinformation is being spread, correct it with the accurate information. Of, if people are gossiping, just walk away.
7. Offer to meet a need. If you're aware of a need in the congregation, approach your pastor saying, "I'd like to help by..." If you see an area that can be improved, take responsibility for contacting the appropriate board or committee, and suggest a plan before you begin working on it. Get involved by teaching a class, leading a workshop, singing in the choir, feeding the hungry. Ask your pastor where and how you can employ your gifts.
8. Lovingly insist on "time off". Your pastor will need to take time for renewal and rest, but may feel as though there is too much work to get done before he can take a "day off". Help him know that he not only has permission to get appropriate rest and relaxation, but that it will benefit his ministry and provides a good model for the members.
9. Support a strategy for continuing education. Your pastor desires to be the best he can in serving you, and will need to remain current with continuing education. Your financial and emotional support in this regard is vital.
10. Identify a "Mutual Ministry" committee. This is a group of people in your congregation with the gift for caring. This group is completely separate from the elders, church council, or other governing board of the congregation. They represent, serve, and advocate for the needs of the pastor and his family.