October is Pastor Appreciation month. Congregations across North America will be expressing their care to their pastors. Some churches will take up love offerings to give to their pastors. Some churches will order their pastors study books they have always wanted. Some churches will give their pastors gift certificates to their favorite places to eat. Some churches will surprise their pastors with trips to the Holy Land. Some churches will give their pastors cards that everyone in the congregation has written notes on.
Such tokens of appreciation mean a lot to pastors who are often over-worked and under-compensated. These tangible expressions of love especially mean a lot to pastors who work other jobs in addition to serving their churches. Pastors who work two jobs are often referred to as bivocational pastors. They are often on the edge of burn-out and need all the encouragement they can get. But even pastors who do not have to work a second job often get weary of always being on call and never really having a day off. They need encouragement too. Pastor Appreciation month is a great time to show pastors how much they are loved.
As great as all these outward demonstrations of support are, what pastors really need in the long term is help in their ministries. In our increasingly busy world where commitment to the local church is often way down the list of things to do for many lay people, what would encourage pastors most is to see church members stepping up to the plate and helping provide real leadership for the church. Deacons who volunteer to make all the hospital visits one day a week so pastors can spend time with their wives would be a huge blessing. Elders who are willing to lead the mid-week Bible study or the home groups for a month so pastors can finally finish reading all those books they picked up at conferences they attended would be great. Trustees who would just fix the leaky pipes and change the burned-out light bulbs in the sanctuary without the pastors even knowing there was a problem would lift a huge burden off the shoulders of busy pastors.
Leadership is in great demand but short supply in churches across North America. If we want our churches to be as effective as possible, we need to develop more leaders. If we want our pastors to really know they are appreciated, then we should encourage people to become the leaders their pastors have always wanted. That will be the best pastor appreciation gift we could give to our pastors.
Dr. Terry Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, published by CrossBooks and available at CrossBooks, Amazon and 25,000 other online retailers.