Philippians 1: 3-7: “I thank my God for every remembrance of you, always in every one of my prayers for all of you, praying with joy for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete until the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, for all of you are my partners in God’s grace.”[clear-line]
+Pr. Heather Culuris
As I have been traveling around the synod, working with call committees and councils, often times a question is raised sounding like one of the following questions: “We know that there are a lot of openings for pastors. What can we do to encourage a pastor or deacon to consider our congregation?” “We’ve heard that a lot of churches are looking for leaders. How can we help our pastor or deacon so they don’t burn out?” Oftentimes, the answer comes down to showing consistent, caring, appreciation to your pastor or deacon, in ways that help them to see that their ministry is making a difference in your congregation and is appreciated by the members of the congregation and the community.
Considering this question of how to show appreciation to your pastor or deacon, here are some very concrete ideas:
~Compensate your pastor or deacon fairly, considering all the extra time and challenges of the past few years. Synod compensation guidelines are on the synod webpage and if you are not sure if you are meeting guidelines in your congregation, ask your council for more information!
~Pay for the technological investments that many leaders have had to personally absorb in order to do ministry for our congregations during covid. Many pastors and deacons have been using their own computers, phones, data plans, and internet services to do the official work of the church. Consider reimbursing these or providing a gift card to Best Buy or other stores to offset future expenses.
~Surprise your leader with gift cards to favorite restaurants that they can use during busy seasons of the church year or during times with lots of pastoral demands.
~Find out about the things that they and their family enjoy doing together and creatively support that. Some amazingly personal gifts that some leaders have appreciated include passes to state parks, tickets to a musical, paid for registration to a retreat or family camp.
~Give an extra weekend off, so that your leader can have extra time for weekend family events like graduations and weddings.
~Ask if there is a charity or organization that your pastor or deacon feels strongly about supporting and contribute a gift in their name.
~Send a heartfelt note, thanking your pastor or deacon for the concrete things they do in the congregation and the community.
~Bring dinner to your leader during an especially busy time.
~Offer to teach your pastor or deacon a skill or hobby that they have mentioned being interested in-fishing, woodworking, learning to make lefse, learning to play guitar
Take time to get to know your pastor or deacon and show appreciation in ways that are personal, helpful, creative. Many of our rostered leaders throughout these past few years have worked many more hours than expected, learning new skills, experimenting with new technology, in ways that have often been unseen, but have been critical to the wellbeing of the congregations they serve and our synod. Let your pastors and deacons know that you see them, that you see their efforts on your behalf, that you are grateful for the many ways they have served and continue to serve the church during this time.