October is Pastor Appreciation Month. This is a month set aside to honor and show appreciation to those who serve as pastors and ministers in the local church. As a child, I fervently remember the adults in our local congregation making sure they honored the pastor daily and not only one month out of the year. Yes, there was a yearly Pastor Appreciation observation, but the congregation of believers who I observed demonstrated respect and honor toward the pastor year-round.
One of the ways to show pastoral appreciation is through the form of the “love offering.” What is a love offering? Typically, when churches have special days (such as pastor anniversaries, or occasions when a guest revivalist, speaker, or missionaries visit a church), it is customary to give them a monetary token of appreciation gathered from the congregation in an act that is separate from tithes and general offerings.
This type of offering is not to be confused with a form of income, a salary, or a church expense drawn from general offerings or the building fund. Rather, it is a voluntary demonstration by the assembled church membership to show in some financial manner how much the congregation appreciates the work of the minister or guest speaker in ways above and beyond their standard wages.
What are other ways to encourage your pastor?
Gift Cards — Church leaders can easily bless their pastor by asking the membership to bring a gift card for a restaurant, coffee shop, or retail store. I will never forget one church where I served provided my family and me with over $3,000 in gift cards. Every time one of those gift cards was used I offered a prayer of thanksgiving for that congregation.
Experiences — Many pastors have never had the opportunity to attend a college or professional athletic event. Many pastors’ wives have never had an opportunity to attend a theatrical performance, or concert, or participate in a professional cooking experience. If you know someone who is a season ticket holder to a college or professional sporting event, you could provide this experience to your pastor. Some years ago, a church member provided me an all-expense paid ticket to the Tennessee Volunteers’ opening season football game. This experience included a VIP parking pass and prime seats in a suite which included access to the VIP buffet. I’ll never forget that experience. There are so many experiences that are unique to the place in which you live and serve.
Acts of Kindness — My ministry has been made enjoyable because of the many acts of kindness that have been expressed to my family and me. When my wife and I came home with our firstborn child, members from the church cleaned the entire home, cooked meals, and provided fresh flowers on our kitchen table. Church members have mowed our lawn, made sure our vehicles were detailed, and simply found creative and caring ways to let us know how much they appreciated us. Children up to senior adults have provided so many acts of kindness toward me over my twenty-five-plus years of ministry.
Ministry of Care — Let your pastor know you are praying for him. Pastors and their families constantly need our prayers and support. Ask your pastor when the last time he took some time away was. If he can’t give a good answer, then do everything you can to hold him accountable. If ministry leaders do not pull away they will fall apart. Show up to church early and greet your pastor upon his arrival on the church campus. An act as simple as providing a cup of coffee or bottled water can be encouraging to him. Your presence and care will mean the world to your pastor.
Let 1 Timothy 5:17 be your guide: “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
Join me in making sure that Pastor Appreciation Month is not only one day or one month out of the year, but it is an everyday practice that will pass on from one generation to the next.
— Willie McLaurin is interim president of the SBC Executive Committee.