The celebration of the ministry of a church’s staff needs to be initiated by the congregational leadership. This is an event that is done in appreciation of the spiritual leadership of the whole staff and is an opportunity for the lay leadership to take the lead.
It will lose some of its power if it is a regularly scheduled event. “Oh, it’s that time of year again. I guess we should plan the pastor’s appreciation day.” The Presbyterian Outlook, among others, has tried to advance October as pastor appreciation month. That is a good reminder but does not necessarily determine the schedule for such efforts. The event does not need to be a surprise but it should not require effort from the staff to plan their own appreciation.
DRAWING ON THE GIFTS OF OTHERS
This would be an opportunity to talk to retired pastors, denominational staff, or other pastors in the community for ideas that will enhance the event. A retired pastor may find real pleasure in drawing on his or her experience to help others show appreciation for ministry. Denominational leaders can feel their own work strengthened in seeing that a pastoral ministry is celebrated.
FOOD, FUN, AND FROLIC
Having food at the event will both enhance the celebration and create a less formal atmosphere in which the entire body can enjoy themselves. While there will be serious moments where appreciation is expressed, it should be a fun and relaxed experience.
Here is an opportunity for creative members can create some musical or poetic parodies either of the staff as a whole or for each individual staff member. While I have been focusing on associate pastors, an event like this will be enhanced if acts of appreciation are shown to educators, musicians, office administrators, custodians, etc. Even small churches often have several people contributing o the ministry of the church. What you are doing is celebrating the leadership of the church.
In addition to the parodies, roasting, etc. that can be enjoyed, you will want to have one part of your program that can focus in on specific words of appreciation. If you have identified a couple of specific people ahead of time to speak on behalf of each staff member, you might have each person stand in front of the group and invite people to spontaneously speak words of appreciation about that person.
In the next blog, I will share a litany that the group might use to conclude the evening.