“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:16–17, ESV)
Fall is upon us and that means there are many things to celebrate. One of the things to celebrate this fall is minister appreciation month in October.
As a church member I’m sure you'd want the minister or ministers who serve at your church to know how much you appreciate their labors in the Lord. It’s better to show appreciation as early as possible.
So, to help you in showing appreciation to your pastor, and if you have more in your church, like an associate pastor, adult minister, student minister, etc. I have concocted a quick and easy guide to help.
This guide will help determine if an idea is a “go” or a “no”. Hopefully this will provide some clarity for how you express your appreciation. Often, from the church members point of view, an idea that they think is fantastic, could also be a flop from the perspective of the minister.
I’ll give you an example, one that has happened to me several times. A well-meaning church member will think to himself or herself:
To express my appreciation to my pastor, I think I’ll give my minister a King James study Bible.
So, what do you think? Is a Bible generally a good gift? Yes. Does your minister already use a Bible and reference the Scriptures in his or her ministry? I hope you can say “Yes”. If you can’t say “Yes”, then perhaps the gift of a good Bible is in order. But otherwise, I’d say it is a “No”.
Think of it this way; a Bible, commentaries, ministry leadership books, a computer and even subscriptions to some ministry services are tools of a minister’s trade. Giving one of these to them in appreciation is like giving a cake pan to a baker or a wrench to a mechanic. It may help them do their job, but it doesn’t enrich them as a person.
Okay, you got the message.
So, with that, I’ll throw out a few more and you decide if they are “Go’s” or “No’s” for minister appreciation:
To express my appreciation, I’ll buy a devotional by Oswald Chambers and put $20 in it to give to my minister.
Is this a “Go” or a “No”? Well, since it is a devotional, that would put it in the realm of commentary and since Chambers hasn’t written anything new for over 100 years, (died 105 years ago) it should be a very easy answer. The one caveat is the $20. However, it is only $20. If it were $100 or more, I’d say “Go.”
To express my appreciation, I’ll invite my minister and his family over to our home to eat a fried chicken dinner with us.
Is this a “Go” or a “No”? Sorry, but I’m going to have to give this a hard “No”. Now don’t be offended. I’m sure that your minister and family would love to spend time with you and your family. You may even be very close to them.
You may have the best fried chicken this side of the Mississippi. But I promise you this, as much as they love you, this will keep your minister “on the clock”. It is simply because conversation will stray to “church” things. It is also another night away from home or taking away from their own rest and family time. Inviting them over for a meal is a great gesture and you should do that, but don’t assume that it is something that will be viewed with full appreciation. It will be appreciated but not as much as you might think.
To express my appreciation, I’ll give my minister a $50 Starbucks gift card.
Is this a “Go” or a “No”? It depends. Does your minister love Starbucks coffee? If he or she does, then by all means, give them the gift card. This boils down to knowing what your minister likes and does not like. One pastor made the statement in a sermon how much he liked Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. He received bags of Reese’s Halloween candy that October.
It’s important to know what your minister will like. Here’s another example; I know that Pastor Josh Saefkow of Flat Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga really likes to collect neckties with biblical scenes on them: Noah and the Flood, David and Goliath, for example. Of course, he loves any tie that has a big cross on it with Bible verses. (Josh, no need to thank me, just being able to share what you like is enough thanks for me.) Just remember, the gift should match their taste and interests.
To express my appreciation, I’ll write a note to my ministers to let them know how God has used them to bless my life.
Is this a “Go” or a “No”? This one also depends. If you write the note by hand and you mention something specific to them that has made a difference in your walk with God, then it is a “Go”. I believe that the more specific you make it, the better. Make it specific in how you have been blessed by them both in their actions and in your reception of it. If it was something they said, tell them what it was and how it made a difference in your life.
If you are going to buy a “Thank You” card and just sign it, then I’d have to give a “No”. You can put some cash in the card or a gift card and that can turn it into a “Go.” But I must say, the handwritten note with a specific appreciation is better than the gift card, but a gift card in a “Thank You” card is better than nothing at all.
The purpose of minister appreciation month is to remind us as church members the sacrificial nature of ministry and our gratitude to these special people in our lives. All of us have been through a tough, even very tough couple of years. When you bless your ministers, you really are doing yourself a favor. You are honoring God by honoring them.
Encouragement works both ways. When you encourage someone else, you are encouraged as well. The Lord Jesus sees it all and when you do good to His servants, you will not lose your reward.