What is Clergy Appreciation Month?

A Brief History of
CLERGY APPRECIATION MONTH

It is widely believed 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 have been recognized and honored, either formally or informally, by many denominations and local churches at various times of the year. It has been a long-standing practice.

Focus on the Family named and began emphasizing Clergy Appreciation Month in 1994, reminding congregations that it was biblical and proper to honor their pastoral staffs and pastoral families throughout the year, but suggesting that they set aside the month of October for a special tangible tribute. For those churches that preferred a single weekend, we recommended the second weekend of the month. However, honoring a church’s entire pastoral staff and their families can be done at any time — and, in fact, should become a normal part of a church’s ongoing care of these special families throughout the entire year.

The goal is that every pastor (including staff ministers) and his or her family would feel appreciated by those they serve.

What you Can Do for Clergy Appreciation!

  • Send your clergy a card of appreciation
  • Send a letter indicating how they have helped you.
  • Add an extra thank you in your greetings and conversations with them.
  • Join the planning committee if “something special” is being planned
  • Make a special “Love Offering”
  • Honor their spouses and/or children with a note of thanks or gift

Most of all do something to express your gratitude for their service!

Clergy Appreciation Month is a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for the hard work, sacrificial dedication and multiple blessings provided by these special people. It is typically scheduled in October, but can be held at any time that is convenient for the church and the community. It is also important to remember that appreciation, affirmation and prayer support of our spiritual leaders is appropriate throughout the entire year.

The nature of the service provided by pastors and their families is unique. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments — the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his or her parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.

How are their needs and circumstances different from those of carpenters, grocers or dentists, etc.? One distinction lies in the nature of the service these leaders provide. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments—the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his or her parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned. Another problem lies in the expectations placed on pastors. Numerous surveys have found that a very high percentage of pastors feel pressure to be the ideal role model of a Christian family—which is impossible, of course. As a result, four out of five pastors feel their families are negatively impacted by unrealistic expectations—whether self-imposed or congregation-imposed—and that ministry is an outright hazard to the health of their families. Indeed, the “pedestal” is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Pastors and their families live under incredible pressures. Their lives are played out in a fishbowl, with the entire congregation and community watching their every move. They are expected to have ideal families, to be perfect people, to always be available, to never be down and to have all the answers we need to keep our own lives stable and moving forward. Those are unrealistic expectations to place on anyone, yet most of us are disappointed when a pastor becomes overwhelmed, seems depressed, lets us down or completely burns out.

That’s why God has instructed us to recognize His servants.

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).

The good news is that we can make a difference! Clergy Appreciation Month is one way we can counter the negative erosion in the lives of our spiritual leaders with the positive affirmation they need.

Don’t your pastors and their families deserve this kind of recognition? Do something about it today!