By Matt Henslee
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and it’s hitting me a little differently this year. A few weeks ago, I transitioned to a new season of ministry as the associational mission strategist of the Collin Baptist Association in Texas. After 21 years of serving in some role as a pastor, I’m no longer in a church staff position. This year, I get to give gifts––not receive them. And I love it!
As I thought about what to give my pastors where I’m a member, First Baptist Church, Farmersville, Texas, I thought I’d write this article for fellow everyday church members to help us make this Pastor Appreciation Month one to remember. So, let’s go; here are 10 ways to bless your pastors and ministers this October.
1. Pound them … with affirmation.
When I saw “Pounding the Pastor” in a bulletin once, my heart skipped a beat. I quickly discovered it meant the church would be gathering up food and essential items for their new pastor—not beating him up.
Instead of a can of peas, enlist Sunday School teachers or other key leaders to write cards and letters of affirmation for your pastors and their families and then “pound” them with affirmation.
One of my favorite days serving at my former church, Mayhill Baptist Church, was when leaders mobilized the kids of our church to write what they appreciated about me, so don’t forget the kids!
2. Take off one of their many hats.
I wore many hats at Mayhill Baptist Church, and there’s a chance your pastors do, too. If there’s a regular item on their weekly to-do lists that you can do, do it (but keep doing it).Consider taking one of the extra hats your church staff wears and put it on for a year to serve them and the rest of the congregation (you might even enjoy it). — @mhenslee Click To Tweet
For example, does your pastor arrive early on Sunday to adjust the thermostat, turn on the coffee makers, open doors, and so forth? Does your music minister fold bulletins, or your youth pastor run the slides for the worship service? Is one of your pastors the one locking up after church?
None of these tasks require a lot of effort, but they take time for pastors to do. Consider taking one of the extra hats your church staff wears and put it on for a year (you might even enjoy it).
3. Bibles, books, and Bible software
I’m not a mechanic or plumber, but I assume folks who buy gifts for them think of things they need to do their job. Most pastors are easy; we use a Bible and a lot of books.
Your pastor might be a little particular about both, so a Lifeway.com gift card may go a long way here. But if you know of a particular need, get it! New commentary set, study Bible, or reference material? Get it!The Bible and books amount to the tools of the trade for all pastors. Making sure they have the best tools for the work they do will benefit both them and your church. — @mhenslee Click To Tweet
The Bible and books amount to the tools of the trade for all pastors. Making sure they have the best tools for the work they do will benefit both them and your church. You could even pull a few people together and consider purchasing a subscription to Logos or a gift card for more resources in the subscription service.
If this is for another staff member like the music minister, consider a new set of strings for their guitar or some ministry-specific books or resources available in their respective areas.
4. Help them with their car or truck.
One of the most meaningful gifts I ever received was not for me but for my wife. A member noticed her tires were getting worn, so he gave us a new set of tires––and washed our car!
Offer to take your pastor’s car for an oil change, fill it with gas, take it through the car wash, or see if there’s something they haven’t been able to fix.
Your staff likely puts a lot of miles on their cars for you, so do what you can to make sure they’re going to get where they need to be.
5. Kill a little debt for them.
This could be a big ask, but it’s worth considering, especially if you have the means or can organize enough folks to accomplish it: kill a little (or a lot of) debt for them.
Pay a monthly bill for something like their car, house, or student loan. As we approach Christmas, every little bit helps, and that chunk of change saved could go a long way in them being able to bless their family for the holidays.
6. Offer some handyman services around the home.
Some pastors are handymen, but I am not. I can hammer a nail, but that’s about it. Whether or not a pastor is Bob the Builder, he’s still Bob the Stretched Thin. Accordingly, things to fix around your pastor’s home may be stacking up.
See a yard that needs mowing? Mow it. See a fence falling down? Fix it. See the paint peeling? Paint it. The list could be limitless of ways you could help around the pastor’s house. And maybe you know or are a handyman. Get to work.Consider involving your small group or Sunday School class and host a workday at the pastor's or staff member's home. — @mhenslee Click To Tweet
Consider involving your small group or Sunday School class and host a workday at the pastor’s or staff member’s home and mow, weed-eat, edge, trim some bushes, plant some flowers, and handle some odds and ends inside the house. When you’re finished, pray over the family as you prepare to leave.
7. Jump aboard the meal train.
Meal trains don’t have to only be for the bereaved or sick; they can also be a great way to bless pastors’ families.
Find the best cooks in the church and organize them to feed the pastor or staff member and their families for a week or weekly in October. And don’t forget the desserts!
8. Provide some fun for their children.
We rightly think of pastors during October, but let’s not forget their families. If your pastors have kids at home, provide a fun day for them.
For example, where we live, there are multiple zoos, ballparks, movie theaters, and amusement parks. This may vary based on location—our former church was an hour away from many of those treats—but think of something fun and either offer to take them all or purchase the tickets for them to do so.
9. How about a date night?
If your pastor is married with kids, offer to cover the babysitting while they go on a date. Better yet, pay for the date, too.If your pastor is married with kids, offer to cover the babysitting while they go on a date. Better yet, pay for the date, too. — @mhenslee Click To Tweet
Date nights were hard to come by when I was in Mayhill, New Mexico, so we did many date nights “in,” and your staff members might be in the same boat.
Regardless, a gift card to a nice restaurant will go a long way in reminding your pastor that their first ministry is to their family.
10. Don’t forget the spouse.
As you (rightly) celebrate and appreciate your pastor and church staff this month, don’t forget the spouses! Make it a point to honor them (and their kids) as you honor your pastors.
With thousands upon thousands of pastors, there’s no way I could give an exhaustive list of what you could do to honor them. But I hope this helps spark some ideas.
It is an absolute joy to be a pastor. While encouraging and appreciating them throughout the year is a must, making this October one to remember (after a season we’d all rather put behind us) will help them know you care, see, and love them.
PS: Bonus idea
For me and my pastors, I asked around to find out what they love, and since they may read this, I won’t share that here and spoil the surprise. Buying some thoughtful gifts around their interests was not only fun, but budget friendly, too.