For Church Planters, Pastor Appreciation Month can be awkward. Here’s why:
New believers don’t know that they’re supposed to appreciate the pastor.
They don’t know there are religious trinkets like eagle’s wings paper weights or books by Paul Tripp or coffee cups with Max Lucado quotes that they should buy the pastor. The vast majority of the church has probably never been inside a Christian Book Store. They probably don’t even listen to Christian radio yet. So, they miss all the hints to appreciate the guy that makes the coffee, sets up the chairs, shakes all the hands, and teaches from the Bible on Sundays.
In the early years of a church plant, the Planter is often setting the calendar, agenda, and order of worship for everything.
So, it’s a little hard to say – “In October, IT’S ALL ABOUT ME.” Or “at this point in the service, you all are going to surprise me with coffee cups and gift cards.” He hopes someone might have gotten the hint, but planters may see October come and go without appreciation.
New believers in the church plant are probably still trying to figure out whether they appreciate the pastor/church planter or not.
“He’s challenged me to change my lifestyle and to give a portion of my income to God. It sounds right and I’m listening, but buy this guy a gift? Yea right!”
Pastors, we shouldn’t take this too seriously. Receive the encouragement of any Pastor Appreciation love, but remember our reward is in heaven. To receive it here may even be a loss for us in eternity (Matthew 6:2-4). And our reward here should be the privilege to serve and see the people grow in faith & knowledge of the Lord (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). Pastors should be ENCOURAGED, not ENTITLED.
There is also great value in Pastor’s Appreciation day for our churches, as they learn to obey verse like Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
And 1 Timothy 5:17: “The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”
And 1 Thessalonians 5:12: “Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you”
So, here’s some ideas for helping the church plant learn to appreciate their Planter/Pastor:
- If you’re a sponsor church, encourage your church to remember your planter(s) on Pastor’s Appreciation Month. Maybe lead them to all sign a card for Planters in the area. Send it with a date night gift card to a planter family (I promise they need it desperately).
- If you’re a sponsor church, send a staff member to one of the gatherings of your church plant in October, and take a moment to share about Pastor’s Appreciation Month and lead the plant to give a round of applause for their hard-working planter then pass a card to the planter and his spouse. This simple act will probably plant seeds in the congregation for the rest of the month or for next year.
- If you’re a Pastor, take the initiative to show appreciation to a Church Planter by taking them to lunch or coffee during the month of October. Or inviting them to join your staff for lunch. Tell them thanks for the big risk they’ve taken and offer your insights on the community.
- If your church has a large staff, adopt a planter for prayer and encouragement during the month of October to extend the Appreciation that your church extends to you.
- Invite a Planter to share at your Wednesday night or Sunday night gathering during October & let your congregation appreciate them for the hard work they are doing.
This is a starter list. Imagine taking a big risk to start something from scratch, working long hours, having a lot of difficult conversations, maybe working a second or third job, and seeing slow developing fruit for a few years. These guys need and deserve our thanks and appreciation.