A pastor never stops pastoring—even after they have retired. Transitioning out of a church leadership position can be tough because being a minister is still an important part of their identity.
Retired pastors might also begin to question their legacy. Did their ministry matter in the long run? Has significant Kingdom work been done?
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and remembering to also honor our retired ministers is a significant way of communicating that their ministry still matters. Here are five suggestions for recognizing your retired pastors:
1. Pull together meaningful testimonies
Send a call out to people whose lives have been transformed under the ministry of the retired pastor. Pull together some of the more powerful and touching testimonies.
If the minister lives elsewhere, you can compile the stories into a document and mail it, along with a card. You can also attractively arrange quotes from some of the testimonies and frame them alongside a picture of the church or congregation.
In churches where the pastor still attends, you can either have a couple of people give their testimonies during a pastor appreciation service or have one individual share every week during October.
2. Commission local artists
Whether they are painters, photographers, sculptors, songwriters, or illustrators, every town has at least one artist—maybe they even attend your church! Why not commission a unique piece of art for your former pastor?
Many artists would love an opportunity to be involved in such a lovely and meaningful gift. All you would need to do is spend some time with them and help them understand what this pastor means to your community and let them do the rest.
The cherry on top of this sundae is that it helps your church get out and build relationships with people in the community who might not have another connection to a church.
3. Do some special projects for them
Your retired pastor probably has a lot more projects than energy—or income. Why not put together a work party and take care of some of those issues?
October can be a good time to help get their house winterized, clean out the gutters, and do some pruning. If you have a church member who is mechanically inclined, you can even make sure that your retired minister’s car is in working order.
4. Give them opportunities to preach and teach
One of the things that pastors miss after retirement is regular opportunities to instruct and educate—even though they probably don't miss the treadmill-like schedule.
They would probably jump at a chance to preach occasionally or lead a Sunday school class. But the real honor is simply being asked. Having a church ask a retired minister to teach them would speak volumes to them about the significance of their ministry.
5. Create a commemorative plaque
As old school as the idea may seem, a memorial plaque can be a gift that recognizes a pastor's years of service and the impact they have had. Displaying it prominently somewhere in the church will give the gesture an extra layer of meaning. This gift tells the retired minister that you appreciate their service and that they are an important part of your church's history.
6. Make a Generous Donation to the Kairos Benevolence Fund
A wonderful way to support retired pastors everywhere is by giving to the Kairos Benevolence Fund. KBF ensures that emergency situations don’t have to overwhelm retired ministers. It lovingly provides a safety net to assist them in times of financial difficulty.
KBF honors the sacrifices of these Kingdom servants by providing benevolent grants in times of critical health and financial hardship.
Through the gifts of churches and individuals, KBF honors the sacrifices of these Kingdom servants by providing benevolent grants in times of critical health and financial hardship.
Here are a couple of the most recent KBF life-changing stories: