Local Church Planning Guide
New Testament honors vocational ministry as one of God’s highest
Thessalonians 5:13-14 asks church members “to
respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the
Lord and who admonish you. Hold
them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”
Ephesians 4:11-12 says God gave the Church pastors and
other ministry leaders “to
prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of
Christ may be built up.”
Pastors are God’s gifts to His people and are worthy of
recognition for their willing and faithful service.
Appreciation Sunday is an opportunity for local congregations to give thanks
to God for their pastors. It is a
time to demonstrate to their pastors genuine appreciation for their service.
It is a time to esteem the role of the vocational Christian ministers
who provide churches with spiritual direction.
It is a time to stress the need for others to answer God’s call to
the Apostle Paul remembered with joy the people in the church at
, he spoke of their “partnership
in the gospel (Philippians 1:5).” Ministry
is a partnership of ministers and lay people—each helping the other to be
effective in witness and work for Christ.
The church cannot function effectively unless both do their part to
build up each other. When churches
honor their pastor, they strengthen the team God has put together to serve Him
in their community. By showing
appreciation they return some of the love, concern and ministry their pastor
has given to them.
a Pastor Appreciation Sunday should be a joy.
Form a committee, divide the work, and you’ll have a great day.
in this planning guide are suggestions and ideas for arranging an impressive
and inspiring program. You will
not find a rigid outline here. The
purpose of this planning guide is simply to start your own creative juices
flowing. Adapt what you read and
tailor it to your local situation. Use
your imagination and do things that will genuinely honor those God has called
to lead ministry in your church.
Choose a committee
is the key to a successful Pastor Appreciation Sunday.
Select a planning committee to oversee preparations for the event.
With a little effort and organization, the day will be an inspiring and
memorable occasion for those honored as well as for all those who take part in
number of persons serving on the planning committee should be determined by
the size of the congregation and the type of appreciation event to be
observed. The planning committee
will likely include the vice-chair of the Local Board of Administration, the
church secretary, Sunday school superintendent, Wesleyan Women director, and
Wesleyan Men president. However,
it does not need to be limited to these persons.
Ideally, the committee will include representation from all departments
and age groups of the congregation. One
member of the group should be chosen to serve as chairperson of the committee.
Agree on your purpose
are several things you should hope to accomplish by sponsoring a pastor
appreciation event. Your purpose
the church about the pastor’s scriptural role and to increase its support for him or her in fulfilling those
unselfish service modeled by the pastor.
an opportunity for church members to tangibly express their love and
appreciation for the pastor.
individuals in the community an opportunity to convey their respect and
appreciation for the pastor’s community contributions.
youth and adults to obey God if they sense His call to the ministry as their
prayer support for the continuing ministry of the pastor.
the unity of the church and the mutual love between its members and its
Plan a program
a theme and plan a program that supports it.
You may like a theme such as “Celebrating the Call Sunday”;
“Pastor’s Anniversary Sunday” (if the appreciation day is also
the near date your pastor began serving your congregation); “Shepherd’s
Sunday”; or “Partners in Ministry Day.”
Of course, simply calling it “Pastor Appreciation Sunday” is a
worthwhile idea, too.
section entitled “Program Pointers” offers several suggestions for
activities and services. Follow
the outline given; adapt it to your local situation; or develop your own
ideas. But by all means, plan to
make this special day a memorable event in your church’s life.
elements combine to make an inspiring and enjoyable Pastor Appreciation Day.
Someone must be responsible for each one.
For instance, who will be responsible for publicity?
Who will order materials? Who
will coordinate the service? Who
will speak Sunday morning? All
these questions, and more, must be answered.
after its formation, the planning committee should use the planning outline to
designate persons who will be responsible for each element of the observance.
Every church may not use all of the activities listed.
Some churches will add others. The
planning outline is intended only as a starting point and may be adapted for
the type of program your church will have.
with each appointed person individually and thoroughly discuss the task—what
is expected, required deadlines, and the results desired.
It may be helpful to put everyone’s duties in writing for future
a list of assignments and responsibilities and circulate a copy to everyone
involved. This will reduce the
possibility of misunderstandings, overlapping responsibilities, or omissions.
for organizing a successful Pastor Appreciation Sunday rests ultimately with
the planning committee. Establish
a checklist to ensure that all assignments will be ready at the designated
the progress being made by checking periodically with the persons who are
assigned responsibility for various elements of the event.
Contact individuals and groups at regular intervals to discuss special
needs and to offer encouragement and assistance.
Advertise in advance
the people of the local church and the community about all the
activities associated with your pastor appreciation event.
Use the church bulletin, posters, media releases, newspaper
ads, and personal contacts as elements of the promotional
strategy. Of course,
you will need to save a few surprises for the celebration.
But don’t let who, what, when, and where be one or more
of those surprises.
practice session with all of the persons involved should be held
before the actual event. This
will ensure that everyone understands his or her role in the total
program, eliminate uncertainties and relieve nervousness and
the value of everyone enjoying themselves, and each other, while
honoring the pastor. Create
a “ministry mood” toward the program, so everyone can
participate with a relaxed spirit and a positive attitude.
the event, thank each one who made the program successful.
Commend individuals who participated by sending a “Thank
You” card or by placing a personal telephone call.
Also, include an appreciation announcement in the church
participants helps spread the spirit and purpose of Pastor
following outline will assist you in recruiting, assigning,
delegating, and supervising volunteers.
It will be helpful to copy this information and distribute
it to all your planning committee members.
to Make Contact
Certificate or Plaque
for Ministers and Spouses
Offering for the Pastor
for the Pastor and Spouse
publicity chairperson should be appointed to promote interest and
attendance for Pastor Appreciation Sunday.
The pointers given in this section offer ways to advertise
the special day.
posters to place in the church building and other appropriate
community locations to announce the Pastor Appreciation Sunday.
Be sure to designate the time and place for the activities.
sample media release is provided below.
Prepare your media release typewritten and double spaced.
Be sure to include a phone number at the top where an
editor can call for additional information.
Photographs add interest to a news story, but be sure they
are high quality. Do
not submit fuzzy snapshots. The
newspaper most likely won’t accept them, but even if they do,
you will be disappointed with the result.
radio and many television stations will help you publicize your
events. Submit the
same release you give to the newspaper.
Call the newspaper or station and ask who should receive
church news so you can send your media release directly to the
appropriate person. The following article can be adapted for your
__(name)__, pastor of the __(church)__, located at
__(address)__, will be honored by the congregation on __(date)__.
The day has been designated Pastor Appreciation Sunday.
theme for the day will be “Celebrate the Call.”
The event is to give recognition to Reverend __(name)__
for outstanding service to the community as a pastor and leader.
The minister came to __(town)__ in __(year)__,
and since then has earned the respect of the community as a
dedicated leader. (Note
some community involvement/honor here).
special Sunday morning service at __(time)__ will feature
a message by __(name)__.
Church members and community representatives will express
appreciation to the pastor.
The Wesleyan Men and Wesleyan Women ministries of the
church will honor the pastor with a banquet meal following the
activities are intended for the public.
special church bulletin should be pared
special church bulletin should be prepared for Pastor Appreciation
Sunday. A worship
outline with a responsive reading is suggested below for your
bulletin insert with your pastor’s photo and some personal
background information will add an extra touch to the occasion.
List academic achievements, special awards and honors,
ministry experiences, family facts, and other biographical
your church has an outdoor sign with a message center, the Pastor
Appreciation Sunday announcement should be displayed a couple of
weeks before the event to promote community awareness and to
provide a reminder of the day for the congregation.
newspaper advertisement promoting Pastor Appreciation Sunday will
inform the community of the special day and add prestige to the
event. Most newspapers
provide special church or non-profit rates for such advertising.
with an advertising representative at least two weeks before you
want the advertisement in the newspaper.
This will ensure that the ad will be scheduled on the day
you want it to appear, and that you can see a “proof copy” for
final approval before publication.
the Sunday morning service is the main focus of the celebration,
many churches will want to add other opportunities for people to
express appreciation to their pastor.
To build excitement, plan a special event every day of the
week leading up to the celebration Sunday.
Each day during the week a special expression of
appreciation could be presented to the pastor and his/her family.
a complete meal to those honored.
a bouquet of flowers to the female spouse.
homemade candy for the family.
a fruit basket or a giant bag of specialty
for the entire family to enjoy.
in an order for delivered pizza and soft drinks
for the family (and be sure to prepay the bill!).
off cookies, cakes, and cards throughout the
Appreciation Pizza Party.
Arrange for a pizza party at the church fellowship hall or
at a local pizza parlor. This
will be a fun time for the youth of the church and will provide a
time for them to tell their spiritual leaders they are loved and
Appoint someone to arrange for a tea and to create a lovely
setting to convey appreciation to women in vocational ministry.
Present a gift to each of these ladies that will be a
reminder of the affection others have toward them.
Invite younger women to hear testimonies of women in
Appreciation Steak Dinner.
A steak dinner can be planned as a cookout or as a meal at
a local restaurant. Teenage
boys should be invited also. During
a devotional time, challenge attendees to consider God’s call
for them to vocational ministry.
Instead of separate meal functions, it might work best for
your church to hold a single meal and appreciation night for
ministry personnel. Following
the meal, different age groups could “roast the pastor,”
telling humorous remembrances as well as expressing appreciation
through poems, skits, and testimonies.
Prayer for the Pastor.
Each family in the church can be asked to set aside a time
to pray for their ministers during the week leading up to Pastor
Appreciation Sunday. This
is a good time to explain to children the important role of
Christian ministry. Talk
about the responsibilities, the privileges, the schedule, and the
pressure that is placed on ministry families.
This will increase understanding and respect for the
church’s spiritual leaders.
Provide each family in your church with a prayer request
calendar or list.
Ways to Honor Ministers and Their Families
1. Give the minister’s family a list of homes to which
they are invited for a meal each month throughout the year.
2. Plan a surprise paid weekend vacation for the
3. Provide a free hairdresser appointment for the pastor’s
4. Present a gift certificate from a clothier to the pastor.
5. Arrange for a meal at a nice local restaurant for the
minister’s family and have it billed to the church.
6. Give appropriate gifts or gift certificates to the
7. Purchase a decorator item for the minister’s home.
8. If the pastor has out-of-town children, arrange for them
to be present to participate in the celebration.
Pastor Appreciation Sunday in the classroom.
Write the theme on the board.
Discuss reasons for observing the day.
Pray for the pastor and his/her family.
Pray for those who are preparing for ministry.
Pray for those who have retired from the ministry.
Pray for God to call more people from your church into
vocational Christian service.
the children draw a picture of their pastor engaged in an act of
service to the church. Have
them write a note of thanks to the pastor.
These may be presented to the pastor during the special
churches may not be able to sponsor all of the events that are
suggested. Some may
simply find it best to plan a reception after the Sunday evening
service to express appreciation and to enjoy refreshments and
fellowship. The event
will probably be informal and may or may not involve a detailed
program and entertainment. This
might be a great time to premiere a video of church members
telling a favorite story about the pastor or saying thanks for
the morning service, consider an appreciation dinner for the
pastor and family in the church fellowship hall or some other
appropriate location. Ask
each family to bring food to share.
morning service format
Appreciation Sunday is a time to show those called to vocational
ministry that the congregation loves them and esteems them for
their position as spiritual leaders.
The focus of all our worship should be first and foremost
on Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church.
He is the one who has called servants to follow in His
steps as preachers and teachers.
It is only in this context of praise to God that praising
individual Christians is appropriate.
suggested service format offered below can be modified to fit the
goals and worship style of your church.
Be sure to emphasize the theme selected by the committee.
With proper planning and prayer, this celebration Sunday
can have a great spiritual impact on all attendees.
Sunday morning order of worship
an appropriate flower on honorees and their spouses
the worshipers and introduce the theme of the day
singing and special music
of Certificates of Appreciation
by a man, woman, and youth from the congregation
message by lay person, guest speaker, or pastor
of love offering and/or special gifts
by pastor and benediction
following opening address could be read by the worship leader to
introduce Pastor Appreciation Sunday.
to Ephesians 4:11, God calls people to various roles of Christian
ministry. Through this
divine act, God established the human means for the spiritual care
of His people.
we celebrate the call of those involved in vocational Christian
ministry within our congregation.
As we do, we not only want to honor them, but also
challenge others to be receptive to a call from the Lord to
Christian service as their life’s work.
While all believers are spiritually gifted to share in the
Church’s mission, the called are God’s specially chosen
leaders for our endeavors.
as we celebrate the call and ministry of our pastor, we worship
God our Savior, and we commit ourselves to hold in high esteem
those He has charged with our spiritual nurture and care.
We also pledge to be ministers to others with Christian
love, and we renew our willingness to do God’s will as He
reveals it to us and to our church.
of the day’s special events, the music portion of the worship
service may not be as lengthy as in a regular service.
Choose music and songs that support the selected theme.
Aim for excellence in the selection and presentation of
appropriate responsive reading offers the entire congregation an
opportunity to express appreciation with one voice to those called
into vocational Christian service.
In answering God’s call to the ministry, you have obeyed
His will for your life.
We celebrate your
call and thank God for you.
Reader: Your call
has come in answer to the prayers of God’s people that He would
“send forth laborers” into the harvest fields of our world.
We celebrate your
call and will pray for you.
Your call comes through your love for lost souls.
We celebrate your
call and commit ourselves to be witnesses for Christ.
Your call is evident in your concern for God’s people and
your spiritual service to us.
We celebrate your
call and according to your example we promise to love and serve
one another in Christ, too.
And all the people said,
attractive certificate or display plaque is an appropriate way to
honor your pastoral staff members for their service to your church
and community. Certificates
should be prepared by a calligrapher or someone with stylish
should be professionally engraved.
Either may be purchased locally or from your denominational
two or three persons to lead the congregation in prayer.
One could offer a prayer of adoration to God, the second a
prayer of confession and thanksgiving, and another a prayer for
specific requests concerning the pastor, church, and the ministry
of the Gospel.
a lay person present a 15-minute devotional message concerning the
way ministers have touched his/her life.
The message should be warm, friendly, and expressive of the
congregation’s appreciation for its ministers.
Or invite a guest speaker to address the need for
God-called spiritual leaders; the characteristics of a spiritual
leader; or ways to build up a pastor for more effective ministry.
the conclusion of the message, have those who are being honored
stand before the congregation.
The Local Board of Administration, representing all the
people, may lay hands on them in a special prayer for God’s
blessings on their lives and service.
the church has received a love offering and encouraged the giving
of special gifts to the pastoral staff, present them at the close
of the service or at the fellowship activities which follow.
Allow time for those honored to extend their thanks to the
congregation. If the
gifts are presented as part of the worship service, the worship
leader should dismiss the congregation afterwards with a happy,
us at ECG@wesleyan.org and tell us about your special or
unusual way of showing appreciation to your pastor.
You might inspire someone else to move beyond the usual in
honoring God’s servants.