According to Wikipedia, a Hallmark Holiday is “a term used predominantly in the United States to describe a holiday that is perceived to exist primarily for commercial purposes.” They exist. And they seem to grow in number, don’t they?
Even in the church they grow, and they grow not just by days, but even by entire months. One of those months has come and is nearly over – “Pastor Appreciation Month!”
I, myself, am a pastor and have been the direct beneficiary of Pastor Appreciation Month. And through it, I have indeed felt appreciated and blessed. But I have also felt a sense of pity for what at times feels like the imposition of this month-long pastor holiday upon the church. With that in mind, let me offer a few thoughts on how we might make better use of this moment.
Broaden it to include other ministry staff
Does your church have a DCE, DCO, Deacon, Deaconess, Family Life worker, Youth worker, Parish Nurse, Day School teachers, or other ministry staff? If so, consider finding a way to honor all those who serve on the ministry staff! If you want to give special thanks to the pastor, then do so at your discretion. But seeing that DCE Appreciation Month doesn’t currently exist, and that there are similar absences for all of the other trained laborers in the harvest, let us consider using this as a time to encourage them all!
Broaden it to include spouses
This is a great moment to not only encourage the pastor, but also his wife and family! And again, if there is any other ministry staff, also consider publicly thanking their spouses! The truth of the matter is that they have served a great deal behind the scenes, and in most cases their faithful service to their spouses and to the church goes unnoticed. Let’s thank them too!
Say thank you with more than gifts
Gifts are nice. Gifts may well be appropriate and appreciated. But, they are not the only means by which a church can express its appreciation. The week-to-week, month-to-month care given to our church workers may well be a more enduring, more meaningful, more helpful gift in the long run.
What does that look like? You must determine the answer to that on your own. One starting point might be to make use (through the elders, council, vestry, or another group) of a video series concerning the ongoing care of church workers that is offered freely on the Michigan District website. The three videos (below) are from Dr. Bruce Hartung and they are titled after his book by the same name, Holding Up the Prophet’s Hands: Supporting Church Workers.
May the Lord bless you, His church, and His laborers in the church!
+ Pastor David Rufner