Each year, the second Sunday in October marks a special day of recognition for church pastors known as Pastor Appreciation Day. This Hallmark holiday dates back to 1992 when it was originally known as Clergy Appreciation Day. The idea behind the holiday is that church congregants take at least one day per year to show gratitude for everything pastors do for their church. Many churches celebrate their pastors throughout the year, but this holiday provides a specific day for recognition. 

Taking the time to genuinely recognize all the work that pastors do for a congregation is so important. A pastor’s role is uniquely stressful in that it doesn’t have typical 8-5 business hours. Weeks are long, and the role carries a lot of emotional, mental, and spiritual weight. There are few, if any, “off-the- clock moments” for a pastor. They constantly work to meet the needs of the congregation. Pastor Appreciation Day is a great opportunity to reciprocate that. 

We’ve rounded up inspiration examples of ways to celebrate your pastor here.

How Real Churches Celebrate Pastor Appreciation Day

  1. In 2018, Gethsemane Baptist Church put together this video reflecting on all the work their pastor has done for their church. Members of the congregation shared how their pastor had blessed them individually and as a church. This is a special keepsake that their pastor can enjoy for years to come. 
  1. A pastor of a Baptist church in Norman, Oklahoma, shared how one congregant would offer up his cabin for a few days of rest and mediation each year. This allowed him to slip away and enjoy a time of solitude. Time could be spent studying, meditating, or just resting. He then returned to the pulpit, refreshed and renewed. 
  1. Grace Baptist in Loveland, Colorado, (since renamed) gifted their former pastor with a new dishwasher for Pastor Appreciation Day. This was something his family lacked at the time. The congregation realized his family’s need and worked together to resolve it for their pastor.   

These are just a few examples of ways that churches across the country have shown gratitude for their pastors. Use these as a starting point for ways that your congregation can celebrate this special day.

Pastor Appreciation Day Celebration Ideas

  • Openly support them: This is one of the easiest but most beneficial things you can do for your pastor. Cover your pastor in prayer and encouragement. Actively engage in church and find ways to serve. It can be a great gift for a pastor to see their congregants furthering the ministry that they work so hard to lead.
  • Look for ways you can meet the unique needs of your pastor: Similar to the example of Grace Baptist above, identify a need your pastor (or his family) may have and find a way to meet it. Examples of this include: help send their kids to camp, offer up a date night, or help them on projects around the house. 
  • Thank your pastor publicly: Encourage your media team to create a fun video. Have elders speak words of appreciation and encourage members to send in or share stories. Hold a time of fellowship and celebration after service for members to personally thank the pastor for service.  
  • Send your pastor on aretreat (find some good ones here): A pastoral retreat is a great gift of restoration.

Next Steps

For even more resources on all things church life, check out the Church Relevance Course Shop