EDITOR'S NOTE: National Clergy Appreciation Day is the second Sunday in October (Oct. 9), although some churches pick other dates in which to celebrate it.
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INDIANAPOLIS (BP) -- They chatted, teary-eyed, about the enormous encouragement of Minister Appreciation Day each October. The pastor and his wife said, "They really go all-out!" Over the years, their church's thoughtfully prepared gifts had included a gift card to a fancy restaurant, a personalized gift basket, a two-night stay at a state park, and golf at a nice course. Last year, they were blown away when the church surprised him with his dream recliner.
It doesn't take a lot of effort to say "thank you." Will your church put thought and action into acknowledging the pastor and ministry staff God has given you? Need fresh ideas? Try one of these:
-- Text "bombing." If your pastor has unlimited text messaging on his phone, ask all church members and attenders to text an appreciation message to the pastor on a specific day. Boom! He's encouraged.
-- Bound book of personal quotes. Use a form to ask every church member and attender to write a one-sentence quotation about the pastor. Combine them into a book and have it bound at the local print shop. Or ask avid scrapbookers in the church to create a beautiful book. Make a separate, unique book for each ministry staff member.
-- Tie wardrobe. If your pastor wears a tie, ask groups in the church to purchase a nice tie and have everyone in that group sign the back with fabric pens. Choirs, deacons, committees, organizations and all ages of Sunday School classes can participate.
-- "My Pastor" Video. Interview children to ask what they like best about the pastor, then create a short video. End it with a funny rap about the pastor by middle school youth.
-- Everybody brings gifts. Carefully select two items your pastor really likes, i.e. golf ball, popcorn, fishing lure, sunflower seeds. Ask every church member to bring one of the items on Sunday, then have a processional where everyone brings their small encouragement gift to put in a huge basket. Provide extras for guests and members who forget.
-- Facebook flood. If your pastor uses Facebook, distribute an announcement to church members asking them to post a Facebook message of appreciation on his page. For example, snap his photo and post, "this is what a great pastor looks like!"
-- "Love our Pastor" T-shirt. A children's class can write their name with fabric ink on a T-shirt, then invite the pastor to their classroom for the presentation.
-- Lawn signs. Attach election-style signs to wood stakes in the church lawn proclaiming "We love Pastor Monty" during Pastor Appreciation Week. On Sunday, youth can use them to picket as people arrive.
That pastor with his dream recliner serves with just a little extra zeal, knowing his congregation appreciates his ministry. Will your church "honor those who are your leaders in the Lord's work" (1 Thessalonians 5:12)?
Diana Davis (www.keeponshining.com) is an author, speaker and wife of the North American Mission Board's vice president for the Midwest region, Steve Davis.