Ministry is full of sincere and earnest people who felt called to serve the Lord. They live to lead and guide others, and they’re happy to make sacrifices in order to help people discover Jesus and see lives changed. It is through serving the church that they find joy and meaning.
However, what we may not see is how many of them end up feeling frustrated, lonely, or disillusioned. And ministry frustrations don't just affect them; they have a ripple effect throughout their entire family.
Consider these statistics:
- 70% of pastors don’t have someone they consider a close friend
- 56% of pastor’s wives say they have no close friends
- 80% believe their pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families and 33% called it an outright hazard
- 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month
In response to statistics like these, prominent ministries started encouraging congregations to honor their clergy throughout the year with a special emphasis on pastoral appreciation in October. For churches that wanted to have a service dedicated to celebrating their pastors, the second Sunday in October became Pastor Appreciation Day.
Three Steps to Honor Ministers
Setting a day aside (or even a month) to honor ministers is a significant move forward in recognizing the difficulties of ministry, but we can do better. If we want to make pastors (and their families) feel loved and appreciated, let's turn pastor appreciation into a yearlong event!
Here's a simple three-step process to pull off a pastoral appreciation event that lasts all year long:
1. Put together a list of ideas
Start by creating a document full of ideas for blessing and encouraging your minister and their family. Depending on the size of your pastoral staff, you can do this for everyone who serves your church. Come up with as many interesting options as you can, and make sure they run the gamut between free or cheap ideas all the way to more outrageous ones. To make your list even better, pull together some people from church to brainstorm over a meal.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Invite them over for dinner.
- Give the whole family a gift card to a restaurant and movie.
- Write them a song of appreciation.
- Take them to a sporting event.
- Invite the kids overnight so the pastor and spouse can have a date night.
- Do an afternoon of yard work at the pastor’s house.
- Wash their cars.
- Get them a membership to a fruit-of-the-month club.
- Let them use your cabin or timeshare.
2. Get people to commit to a week out of the year
After you have a robust list of ideas for honoring your ministers, it is time to get people to choose a week out of the year that they will be responsible for doing something from the list or coming up with a creative idea of their own.
You have 52 weeks to cover, so you'll want to do some preliminary planning before you set the schedule in stone. If you have enough families to fill up the 52 weeks for every staff member, great! If you not, you might need to go to every other week or so.
As you schedule people for their appreciation week, make sure they have the list of ideas. Make sure they understand that they can come up with their own plans too.
3. Remind families of their upcoming week
Don't count on everyone to remember their commitment. Plan on sending out a reminder to the families on deck for the month, and then contact each one before their week starts.
It's important that you touch base with them because they might need some direction on their idea. For instance, if a lot of people have invited the pastor's family over for dinner lately, they probably could use a break. So—without micromanaging each household—you can offer some guidance.
Contacting everyone might seem like a lot of work for whoever is managing this affair, but it doesn't have to be. If you set up a reminder on your phone as you fill up your calendar, technology will do the work of remembering for you—and then you only have to send out a monthly email or make a few phone calls. Easy peasy.
Being Intentional Changes Church Culture
Every church wants to get better at showing their love and support to their ministers, but good intentions alone will not get the job done. A project like this allows your pastors and their families to feel appreciated all year long, and it allows for everyone in the congregation to work together to do something important.
Once the year is over, you can turn around and do it again. The result is that you are creating a culture that is deliberate about loving those who serve them.
Don’t Forget to Pray
As always, prayer is one of the more important things you can do to support and appreciate your pastor. You should encourage every family to pray for the ministry staff during their committed week.
Then encourage them to sign up for our Spiritual Capital prayer list and join us in prayer for other churches and ministries in need!