Get Ready for Clergy Appreciation Month
October is Clergy Appreciation Month and October 8 has been designated as Clergy Appreciation Day in 2023. When a person enters into ministry, they are answering a call from God and they put their whole heart and effort into that ministry without expecting anything in return. How often do we take the time to express our appreciation?
To be able to genuinely express our appreciation, we must first take the time to learn about, reflect on, and give thanks for the countless ways our pastor(s) or clergy person serves in ministry in local congregations, non-traditional settings, and in our communities.
The years during the COVID pandemic have had a big impact on pastors and clergy and how they engage in ministry. They have had to be flexible and willing to make some major changes in how they minister on a daily basis. The use of technology alone has posed a huge added challenge to even the tech-savvy pastors.
To be able to spiritually feed a congregation, to minister to patients, students, those incarcerated, or those in the military, a clergy person needs to be nourished as well and have dedicated time off to recharge and replenish their own energies. What can each one of us do to support our clergy in meaningful ways? With a little effort (and not a large amount of money), we can let our clergy know how much they are appreciated and valued. Here are a few simple ideas:
Send a hand-written note that specifically mentions how you appreciate your pastor or chaplain and the work he/she/they does. It is important to be specific because it conveys to the pastor or chaplain that people notice the details of his/her/their ministry and that what he/she/they does truly matters.
Organize a “meal train.” This idea, shared in an online article, does involve some advance planning. Ask your local church pastor for available dates in the month of October when folks could provide a meal for the pastor and family. Then have people in the congregation sign up to provide dinner on each of those days. They could deliver a home-cooked dinner or take-out meal from a food establishment or give a gift card to a favorite restaurant. The parishioners could then make a calendar (similar to an advent calendar) to hold the dinner plans or gift cards for each day, so the family will know what to expect. Be sure to include a personal note with each meal or gift card!
Give a day off (or better yet, a weekend off) with pay. Arrange for a guest speaker for a Sunday’s worship service and find coverage for teaching responsibilities and pastoral response in an emergency.
Consider your clergy’s hobbies, interests, and likes outside of the church or place of employment. Do they enjoy doing a particular activity? Could they use an item of clothing, such as fun socks or a stole of a certain color? Do they crave a certain snack? A small gift or handmade, home-baked treat is always appreciated! You could have people contribute such items and make a gift basket!
Are there folks in your congregation who are good at fixing things around the house, doing yard work, planting gardens, etc.? Offer to provide such services to your pastor and his/her/their family. Or, offer to re-decorate the pastor’s office, if that would be a welcome update.
Don’t forget the keiki in your church or setting! Children can make cards or practice a song to sing to the pastor during a worship service.
Make an effort to simply tell your pastor or chaplain after a worship service or visit how much you appreciate them, giving specific examples of things they have done that have brought a smile to your face and made a difference in your life.
Just as it is important to celebrate and show appreciation to our pastors and clergy in our churches and communities, it is equally important to give thanks for their families. It is their families who support them in their ministries. And it is often the spouses and families who make sacrifices and are left at home while our pastors tend to the needs of others and minister to our congregations. The job of a pastor is ongoing, 24/7, and often infringes on family time.
This is also a wonderful time to remember and show appreciation for all staff who enable the ministry of your church or organization to serve others.
Finally, although October is designated as a time to show appreciation for our pastors and clergy serving in other settings besides local congregations, we should make it a year-round practice to ensure that our pastors and clergy feel supported and appreciated in all that they do in ministry for and with others!