Encourage one another and build up each other. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NRSV)
While our response to this pandemic has been hard on communities and congregations across the country, we cannot overlook the fact that this has been particularly difficult for our pastors. These are individuals whose calling is to minister to people, especially in times of difficulty.
COVID-19’s Rules of Engagement have closed sanctuaries, and social distancing has prevented gathering together and even hospital visitations. In the midst of it all, our pastors have led our churches in finding new ways to serve and to worship. The psychological burden our pastors have been stoically shouldering has not been easy.
This month is Pastor Appreciation Month in The United Methodist Church. What an opportunity to minister to our ministers! I hope I can count on the laity of the South Georgia Conference in spurring your congregations to help show the pastor - and church staff - some “extra” appreciation in the upcoming weeks.
This doesn’t ever have to be a big, complicated task. I believe the “keep it simple” approach works best: enlisting members throughout the congregation to each take on a small task.
Every congregation is different, but here are some ideas to consider that can easily be scaled to size to fit any size congregation:
1. Recruit two or three willing members to commit to sending a “thank you” email on behalf of the entire church. Tell your pastor how glad you are to have them as part of your church family. Remind them how important they and their family are to the life of your church. Acknowledge them for their dedication and devotion.
2. Find two or three (or more!) members willing to place a phone call and just give a word of encouragement to your pastor.
3. Ask two or three members to write a personal note of thanks on behalf of the entire church and drop it in the mail.
4. There might be those in your congregation who want to take the pastor a meal or baked goods. Several congregants could go in together to provide a single meal (salad, entrée, dessert, drink). The more involved the better!
5. Oct. 25 would be a good Sunday for the Lay Leader to give a brief message of appreciation for your pastor at church.
I encourage you to stagger these suggestions throughout the month, one every day or two - the emails, the phone calls, the notes, the meals. Now just imagine: your pastor would experience an entire month of appreciation and encouragement. As we all know, sometimes it is the smallest gesture or compliment that really makes someone’s day.
You know what will most impact your pastor. The important thing is that we take the opportunity and make the effort to express our appreciation and offer encouragement.
I am so appreciative of the dedication and ministry of the laity of the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church!
J. F. Knapp, III is the Conference Lay Leader for the South Georgia Annual Conference. Originally published by the South Georgia Advocate on October 5, 2020. Republished with permission by Resourceumc.org.