We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. It is a great time to go above and beyond to make sure that your pastor is blessed and loved on by the church. Below are some Texas Baptists resources and ideas from staff members about how you can take care of your pastor, both during this month and beyond:
Giving pastors an opportunity to grow can be a great way to show appreciation. Pastors are often accustomed to teaching others, not being taught. It could be a nice break to provide an opportunity to be poured into and taking notes, rather than standing in front of the crowd, can be a nice break for them.
Texas Baptists offers a variety of conferences that pastors can attend to grow their knowledge in a variety of ministries. They are also a great opportunity for pastors to network and form friendships with fellow pastors from around the state. The biggest event, Texas Baptists Annual Meeting, will take place in Waco on Nov. 17-19 and will have speakers leading workshops and sessions on different aspects of ministry. Other conferences take place around the year and target specific ministries, such as the African American Leadership Workshop, the Conclave Conference and the unApologetic conference series. Consider setting aside time for your pastor to attend a conference.
Is your pastor well-taken care of financially? This topic is not always something pastors feel comfortable talking about, but many can struggle to make ends meet and save ahead for the future. Making sure that your pastor is financially secure both today and in the future is a great way to show that you support his or her ministry.
If your pastor needs financial assistance, the Texas Baptists Ministerial Excellence Matching Grant can be a huge help. Texas Baptists will match up to $2,500 raised by the pastor or the church. This money can be used to help the pastor pay student loans and credit card debt or increase emergency and retirement savings. Raising the matching funds as a congregation can be a great way to show the pastor that you appreciate his or her service to your church. The pastor will need to attend a financial seminar with a lay-leader of the church, providing another great opportunity for members of the church to step up and give back to the pastor. You can contact Tammy Tervooren for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another great way to provide for your pastor financially is to ensure they are secure in the future and in case of emergencies. The Texas BaptistsChurch Matching and Protection Benefit Programcan help your church ensure that your pastor and family are well looked after. The program offers disability insurance and survivor protection benefits, as well as offering matching funds for your pastor’s retirement plan. Read more about the program and its requirements here.
Though they may not be glamorous, providing for a pastor’s financial needs can alleviate a lot of stress from life and greatly impact the pastor’s ability to minister effectively. For more information about how your church can bless your pastor with financial security both personally and within the church, visit ChurchExcel. By following the link provided, Texas Baptists churches will have free access to a host of resources from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, including webinars, how-to articles and videos. Click here.
Consider the emotional health of your pastor as well. Pastors are often on call all hours of the day, and it is easy for them to become tired or worn-out when they are not given time to rest. Katie Swafford, director of counseling services at Texas Baptists, suggests inviting the pastor to an “off-duty” meal or activity where the pastors can have time to relax.
“A lot of time people don’t see their pastor as a regular person with regular interests,” she explained. “Invite them to go fishing or golfing or to see a baseball game—places for them to have fun.”
Even something as small as a note of appreciation can mean the world to pastors as they care for the church.
Another fun idea to provide a relaxing getaway for the pastor. You can gift the pastor and family with a date night by offering to watch the kids, then giving them gift cards for dinner and a movie. Little things can have huge effects on ensuring that pastors are healthy and well-rested. Swafford also recommends looking into Baptist encampments where the family can stay and gifting them a vacation. For a list of encampments available or to learn more about providing for the emotional health of your pastor, contact Katie.Swafford@txb.org.
If you are looking for more ways to meet the needs of your pastor, Swafford suggests reading Pastors are People Too by Jimmy Dodd and Larry Magnuson. Pastors are often reluctant to admit they are struggling or have unmet needs, so doing some research and being proactive goes a long way in ensuring that your pastor is provided for and healthy.