October is Clergy Appreciation Month – an opportunity for churches and church members to say thanks and show appreciation to their pastor (or pastoral staff) for the work they do as the spiritual shepherd(s) of their church.
Previously on ChristianPF, Adam Simon shared 20 ways to say thanks to your pastor. In addition to the great ideas he shared, I want to offer some unique ways that you and your church can show appreciation to your pastor while also investing in their personal and spiritual development.
Some of these ideas are things that an individual or family could easily do, while others are big-ticket items that could be considered by a small group or the entire congregation.
How to Invest in Your Pastor’s Personal and Spiritual Growth
1. Spiritual Retreat
Pastors crave opportunities to get away from day-to-day ministry responsibilities for a few days (by his or herself or with their spouse) for times of personal and spiritual reflection and renewal. Gratefully, there are dozens of pastor retreat centers across North America that offer no-cost or low-cost retreats for pastors.
A gift of a retreat, plus the time off and money to cover transportation costs, will be a huge blessing and investment in your pastor’s personal spiritual life, and consequently, in your church too.
Most pastors I know cannot get enough books, and would love to receive a gift of books on personal leadership and spiritual growth. Here are some of my favorites: Going Deep by Gordon McDonald, Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel, Filled Up and Poured Out by Mark Wilson, and Soul Shift by Steve DeNeff and David Drury.
Of course, if you don’t want to risk getting a book your pastor may not want or may already have, you can always give an Amazon gift card or gift certificate to Family Christian Stores, Mardel, Parable, or another local Christian bookseller.
In addition to books, pastors enjoy reading magazines and newspapers that keep them informed about local, national, and world news and also with what’s going on in the culture. Newspapers and magazines not only feed your pastor’s mind and expand their awareness of what’s going on in the world, but they also help pastors prepare sermons that provide a more relevant, biblical perspective and response to the issues of the day.
Did I mention that pastors are book-aholics? If you’ve ever visited your pastor’s office, chances are the book shelves are full to overflowing. So a Kindle or other e-reader would be a wonderful gift to help your pastor grow his or her library without adding more shelves or clutter.
While they’re not for everyone, many pastors have discovered that an iPad or other tablet device is a great gift that can really streamline their life and ministry. There are lots of apps to help pastors improve their personal productivity, expense and record keeping, Bible study, worship leading, and sermon preparation and delivery.
Pastors love to attend conferences, seminars, and other events like the Global Leadership Summit, Drive Conference, Passion Conference, and Catalyst, which give them opportunities to hear inspiring and challenging messages from interesting speakers, and allow them to rub shoulders with other pastors and ministry leaders.
Unfortunately, some churches don’t (or can’t) budget resources to cover the cost of the event registration, hotel, travel and meals. Your gift of a conference will be a tremendous blessing to your pastor and an investment in their life and ministry.
Pastors are on the look-out for ways that they, and your church, can serve your community. If you’re a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Jaycees, or another community service organization, consider inviting your pastor to join you for one of the group’s meetings or events.
If your pastor enjoys the event and finds that this group may give them good opportunities to connect with other community leaders and open up potential partnerships for serving the community, perhaps you could sponsor them and pay their joining fee and first year’s membership dues.
Ask Your Church Staff for More Ideas!
Clergy Appreciation Month gives you a great opportunity to ask your pastor or church board what you and your congregation can do to invest in your pastor’s personal and spiritual growth.
They may already have a list of ideas that they’d like to do – if only they had the financial resources to do it. Or, they may know of a pressing need that you could help meet right away.
Anything you can do (or any gift you can give) that will help your pastor in their personal and spiritual growth will truly be a gift that keeps on giving. It will be a vital investment not only in their personal and family life, but also in your congregation and community, too.
And your pastor, who is charged with taking care of your soul, will love that you care about theirs, too!
What are some ways that your church invests in your pastor’s personal and spiritual growth? Leave a comment below!