Updated: September 15, 2022

Pastor Appreciation Day is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of October. While it may seem your pastor gets enough appreciation from their loyal fans or the satisfaction of a well-delivered sermon, your pastor could likely use some appreciation.

Here’s our ultimate guide for Pastor Appreciation Day. Lets’ start with how this annual observance got started…

The History of Pastor Appreciation Day

Pastor Appreciation Day began as “Clergy Appreciation Day.” The idea of showing appreciation for your Clergy, Pastors, or Church Leaders is Biblical and can be traced all the way back to Paul’s New Testament letters. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul says:

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” 1 Timothy 5:17 (English Standard Version). 

Paul highlights the fact that Pastors should be considered worthy of double honor for assuming this role in His church and doing it well. But of course, such an important role can also lead to double stress. That’s why congregations need to celebrate and encourage those in leadership.

Clergy Appreciation Day/Pastors Appreciation Day was not commercialized until the early 1990s. Hallmark began offering greeting cards in 1992, and Focus on the Family led the charge in 1994 by reminding congregations to make the month of October special for their Pastor. With the growth of media and technology, the idea that sprang from Paul has now evolved and spread into congregations around the world.

Why Pastor Appreciation Matters

Obey your leaders and do what they say. They are watching over you, and they must answer to God. So don’t make them sad as they do their work. Make them happy. Otherwise, they won’t be able to help you at all. Hebrews 13:17 (Contemporary English Version)

Your leaders are entrusted to watch over the entire congregation. This can be an overwhelming task … one that can lead to a lot of stress, late nights, long hours, and very often heartache and sadness. Great Pastors seek out opportunities to serve whether it is within their ministry or outside the church walls; they simply love to help others and share God’s love. Whether it be time, money, meals, encouragement, leaders always want to lend a hand. Pastors do so much for their congregations and communities. If you think about it, they are not given back to very often. 

Pastors also do their best to appear strong and stoic against the many challenges they face, and it’s easy to assume that they are “doing fine.” But they’re human. At the end of the day, they are like us – they are a part of the body of Christ and should be thought of and thanked. We should all appreciate our Pastors and encourage them as much as they encourage each of us.

We should keep this in mind throughout the year, but Pastor Appreciation Day is a time to be very focused on our Pastor – to think specifically about their needs and determine how individuals and congregations can thank and encourage them. 

How To Celebrate Pastor Appreciation

So now we know what Pastor Appreciation Day is, how it got started, and why it’s important – so how do we put it into practice? 

The best place to start is prayer – it costs nothing and means everything. 

Think carefully about how you can best pray for your Pastor; are there any specific challenges your church is facing? Are their problems in your community that might be on your Pastor’s mind? Pray specifically for God to give your Pastor the strength, wisdom, and resources needed to tackle these issues. 

And feel free to tell your Pastor that you’re praying for them; just knowing this can lift a Pastor’s spirit and build their confidence (and it may spark a more meaningful conversation than you’ve ever had with your Pastor!). 

Pastor Appreciation Gift Ideas

Prayer is a spiritual act of appreciation – now what if you want to add to that with some tangible expressions of gratitude? 

There are many gifts to consider that come in many different shapes and sizes; they do NOT need to have a big price tag. Here are eight ideas for individual gifts you can create yourself, or collaborative “thank you” presents that multiple people can volunteer to help make happen: 

  1. Homemade Crafts

If you’re crafty (or even if you’re not!), you can create a handmade gift that shows you’re thinking about your Pastor. A simple card with encouraging words or Bible verses would be a thoughtful gift. Craft stores like Hobby Lobby have an almost endless supply of craft kits for do-it-yourselfers. You can create picture frames, Christmas ornaments, or other keepsakes that will show your Pastor that you put some thought and effort into appreciating them. 

  1. Homecooked Meals or Delicious Snacks

Another small, personal gift for your Pastor is food. Especially if they have a family, meals can add yet another task to an already packed “to-do” list. One meal can bring hours of closeness and rest to your Pastor and family. Or if you have a special treat or dessert that you are known for, make a batch for your Pastor. It will be a yummy reminder that they are appreciated. 

  1. Babysitting

You can arrange babysitting for an evening so your pastor and their spouse to take some time for themselves. You could even make it a “date night,” with gift cards for dinner and a movie. Babysitting can be a great job for a trustworthy teen in your parish who has experience with kids. (It makes sense to check with your Pastor before planning for something like this, to make sure it’s the right idea.)

  1. Housework/Yard Work

These are two things that never go away. A nice gesture is to offer to do some housework or yard work at their home so they can enjoy their weekend or the day off. We see Pastors so often at the church building, it’s easy to forget that they have a residence to maintain. Acknowledging a Pastor’s daily responsibilities and helping out with them is a great way to show appreciation. 

  1. A Relaxing Getaway

Get the church together and plan a relaxing vacation getaway for your Pastor and family. Rest and recuperation are always appreciated. It doesn’t have to be fancy or exotic. Maybe a church member has a lake house nearby that they’d be willing to share for a few days. Or perhaps someone has extra rewards points with a hotel that can be used to for a getaway. A change of scenery can be energizing. And you can be certain that your Pastor will take this opportunity to renew their relationship with God while spending good quality time with family. 

  1. A Churchwide Celebration

Throw them a party! Gather the church and play some music and games. Have some tech-savvy church members create a video celebrating the Pastor. Ask church members to bring a card or handwritten note sharing what the Pastor means to them. You can provide food or snacks and make Pastor appreciation a time of fellowship with the church family. (Make sure to create a dedicated website page to promote the event and encourage RSVPs and registration!) 

  1. Volunteer To Help a Different Ministry in Your Church

There are many ways to serve in the church and all you need to do is raise your hand. This is more noticeable in smaller congregations, but in any church volunteering your time to help out  will relieve some stress on church ministries and ultimately help your Pastor to know that they are not alone in building the church and sharing God’s love with others. 

  1. Show Up

This may sound simple but show up to events, classes, service, and other church functions. Pastors notice attendance. They put time, effort, and resources into preparing for events, and seeing a huge turnout is a rewarding feeling for any Pastor. So make sure to take part in church events and encourage others to join you. When you put in this effort, it will help strengthen and uplift your church. That’s something your Pastor will definitely appreciate. 

That’s plenty of ideas for you and your church to work with – but feel free to come up with your own Pastor appreciation strategies! You know your church and your Pastor. Get together with fellow church members and brainstorm ways to show your gratitude. 

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