I know you all remember that Halloween is in October, but October is also designated as “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Many churches around the country take this time to thank not only their minister(s) for all the hard work, caring concern, leadership, studying, and teaching on their behalf, but also the church staff, Sunday School teachers, choir, choir director, organist, and pianist – anyone who works in the church really. Have you ever thought about how different your church would be without all these people working together to worship Christ by preparing, preaching, teaching, cleaning, singing, or playing? They all work with each other to help us learn about God and His Kingdom and worship Him together in many different ways. They all love the Lord so much that they want to share that love with us by working for Him in His church and helping us to learn how to be good Christians. God has entrusted each of these people with special skills, assignments, and talents, so as to lead His flocks closer to Him.
We believe that the concept of clergy appreciation started with the Apostle Paul as he was establishing the first Christian churches. In 1 Timothy, he wrote, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). And, in 1 Thessalonians, he said, “Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work” (1 Thess. 5:12-13). Accordingly, over the centuries, decades and years, pastors and staffs have been recognized and honored, either formally or informally, by many denominations and local churches at various times of the year.
Focus on the Family Group named and began emphasizing Clergy Appreciation Month in 1994, reminding congregations that it was biblical and proper to honor their pastoral staffs throughout the year, but suggesting that they set aside the month of October for a special tribute.
How can you as children honor those who help us in church each Sunday? The best ways are the simplest and most straight-forward. Tell them thank you and give them a hug or handshake. Draw them a picture of how they have helped you by what they do. Give them a small token of your appreciation such as a card you made, a pretty rock you found, a flower or plant, even some candy or cookies are all good ideas. The important thing is to let all these people know just how they are helping and influencing you and others by their work and dedication to God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Let’s say a prayer together. Dear Lord, You told us to worship You together in communities of faith so as to support and help each other. You also gave ministers and leaders special gifts to do those tasks that need to be done in the church. Thank You for all those people. Please help them to realize just how important they are to our living the Christian life and bless them as they do Your work. In Your holy name, Amen.
Ann Moody is a retired pastor, formerly of the Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.