Effective Ways to Appreciate Your Pastors

By: William D. Shiell

October is pastor appreciation month. The Barna Institute reports that 29% of pastors are thinking about resigning from church ministry because of COVID-19.i So what do pastors need at this moment to show they’re supported? Usually, it’s not a hallmark card or a casserole. Depending on how they’re wired, your pastors will appreciate personal, relational, and holistic ways to pour into them. 

Personal 

Every Christian has the opportunity and responsibility to do these basic things through the church.  

  • Show up in worship. 
  • Be present for votes. If you’re on a committee, go to the meetings; if you’re in a congregational setting for business meetings, make time to participate.  
  • Speak out when weird stuff happens. Don’t be a part of a so-called “silent majority.” The squeaky/vocal wheels can capture a pastor’s attention and distract them from their shepherding responsibilities.  
  • Volunteer and don’t renege.  
  • Tithe.  
  • Pray. Ask how your pastors would like you to pray for them, and lift these needs to the Father.  

Relational 

Pastors want friends, but more importantly, they want to know that their ministry is making a difference.  

  • Write a handwritten note about their impact on you.  
  • Ask about their spouse & children by name. 
  • Ask if they would like to have dinner with you, and permit them to say no. The gesture will be meaningful, and you’ll be surprised how many would enjoy quality time.  
  • If you have access to a vacation home or frequent flier miles, offer to give those to your pastor and family for some time away.  

Holistic 

As an institution, the church can make an organizational impact on pastors who demonstrate their commitment to their well-being.  

  • Review and update your sabbatical and vacation leave policies. Waiting every 7-10 years for a sabbatical might be unrealistic in this era. Longer vacation seasons with more personal days for mental health might be a better approach for the long and short term. Ask your pastors. They will know. 
  • Repay their college and seminary loans. Consider establishing a loan forgiveness program for pastors. For every year served, forgive a portion of their debt.  
  • Change your unspoken expectations of when a pastor needs to be physically present. Which committees meet by zoom? How many programs need pastoral presence? Can volunteers cover activities where paid staff would usually fill all the gaps?  
  • Encourage training and lifelong learning. Provide renewed support of continuing pastoral education for adapting to the changing landscape of ministry. Please encourage ministers to pursue a Master’s or Doctor of Ministry degree. Provide a subscription to Seminary Now, and ask how they’re renewing their minds for the days ahead. Ask them to lead a cohort within the church that allows the body of Christ to learn alongside the pastor.  

COVID-19 has caused us to rethink how we support the shepherds in our midst. Let’s show them the appreciation that can have a long-term impact on the people who love us well and point us to Christ.  

October 19, 2021

William D. Shiell

President, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching

ABOUT William



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