Friday, October 3, 2008

Top 10 Ideas for Clergy Appreciation Month

Clueless! That’s how many churches feel as they contemplate how to express gratitude to their cherished leaders for Minister Appreciation Day each October.

To the rescue! Diana Davis, author of Fresh Ideas: 1,000 Ways to Grow a Thriving and Energetic Church, offers her top ten suggestions.

Fresh Ideas

10. Lots of letters - On Sunday before Pastor Appreciation Day, distribute stamped envelopes addressed to the pastor. An instruction note invites each church member to write and mail a personal note of encouragement and appreciation to the pastor this week.
9. Award T-Shirt - Special order a “Best Pastor in _______” t-shirt,cap, or plaque, and present it with flourish.
8. Original Art - Laminate bookmarks created by the children in your church, featuring their art and signatures. Allow kids to present the bookmarks to the pastor personally.
7. Church in a frame - Prepare a beautifully framed photo or painting of the church building. Even better: take a group photo of church members in front of the building. Use extra wide matting and ask every church member to sign the mat before adding glass.
6. Very merry commentary - Purchase a full set of Bible commentaries. Allow various groups, such as Bible classes, committees or church organizations, to present one book of the set, individually wrapped with their personal notes of appreciation on the inside pages. You may consider buying individual copies of the Holman Old Testament Commentary the 12-Volume boxed set of Holman New Testament Commentary.
5. PowerPoint Presentation - Create a PowerPoint presentation of slides of the pastor(s) in action as a minister during this past year. Choreograph it to music, such as “Thank You for Giving to the Lord.” Play it as a pre-service video.
4. Public Thanks - Take out a full-page ad in your local newspaper, featuring a photo of your pastor and a declaration of your church's love and appreciation. Even better: Add every member’s signature on the ad.
3. While You Were Out - Do a surprise office makeover, with the pastor's wife's input, of course. Hanover Baptist Church in Indiana surprised their pastor with a new home office while he was out of town, complete with paint, d├ęcor, furniture, and computer.
2. Million M&Ms - Think of one small thing your pastor enjoys--M&Ms, fishing lures, coffee, etc. Ask each member to bring that item on Sunday, i.e. one bag, any size, of M&Ms. Supply extras for guests or forgetful members.
1. Thirty days of Appreciation - Use an October calendar to schedule volunteers for a month-long schedule of surprise treats. Each day of the month, the pastor will receive a surprise token of appreciation from a church member, committee or group within the church. The tributes will vary widely—a balloon delivery, a shoe shine, an apple pie, a gift. After a whole month of pleasant surprises, won't your pastor feel appreciated? And won’t God be honored by your acts of love for his servant? Don’t forget to include a sincere note with specific reasons you appreciate the minister’s spiritual leadership, dedication, time and commitment.

Honor God by honoring His servants, with a thoughtful, personalized encouragement that fits your unique church and pastor.

[By Diana Davis]

Clergy Appreciation Month is dedicated to uplifting and encouraging our nation's spiritual leaders

Pastors and their families face incredible pressures. They often feel overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations and demands and frequently battle burnout. So, while prayer support is important throughout the year, Clergy Appreciation Month is dedicated to uplifting and encouraging our nation's spiritual leaders.

The Rev. H.B. London, vice president of pastoral ministries at Focus on the Family — and cousin to Dr. James Dobson — was interviewed recently by CitizenLink about Clergy Appreciation Month and the importance of honoring your pastor.

Read More

The Largest and Fastest-Growing Churches in America

Outreach magazine has compiled its annual report of the largest and fastest growing churches in America and, for the first time, all 100 churches were listed with 7,000 or higher weekend attendees.

Topping the fifth annual list again this year was Lakewood Church in Houston with 43,500 attendees, followed by Second Baptist Church in the same city with 23,659 and then North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., with 22,557. Although some of the most well-known churches still rank the highest, some actually dropped in attendance:
- Lakewood, led by Pastor Joel Osteen, dipped from 47,000 in 2007;
- Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., dropped from 23,500 to 22,500; and
- Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., led by Pastor Rick Warren, went down from 22,000 weekend attendees to 19,414.

Among the top 100 fastest-growing churches in the country, Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala., was ranked No. 1 with a growth of 72 percent — or 3,418 attendees — over the last year. The church was also the youngest church to qualify in the largest churches list, standing at No. 71 with 8,168 attendees.

Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., ranked second in the fastest-growing report, with Triumph Church in Detroit, Mich., following respectively.

Outreach magazine "celebrates" and studies the country's largest and fastest-growing churches once a year. But, it also recognizes that the average church in America is home to fewer than 100 people and stresses that "a passion for outreach is not defined by numbers alone."

Ed Stetzer, who conducted the study, said, "As raw data, numbers mean little. What brings meaning to the numbers are the stories behind them — the changed lives and transformed communities." He believes that pastors can still learn from larger churches, however. "Nothing can replace the work you do in your own church, your own community, among the lost in your own neighborhood," he said. "A pastor has to have a passion and a fire to reach, teach and disciple those near. But, we can also learn from others — many of whom were small churches themselves a few years ago."

Visit for the complete list of "The Outreach 100." []