Pastor Appreciation Day: The Rest of the Story?

by Tony K on August 25, 2010 · 18 comments

I was doing a little research last night about Pastor Appreciation Month. It turns out this unofficial holiday is better known as “Clergy Appreciation Day” or “Clergy Appreciation Month.”

No Wikipedia page = more work.

I found some clues on the Hallmark website. Notably the holiday only dates back to 1992 and is always celebrated on the second Sunday in October. They first sold cards for pastor’s appreciation in 2002.

I found another helpful post on Leading from the Heart, a UMC blog written by Rev. Laurie Haller. She had this blockquote from the Sept./Oct. 1996 issue of the Saturday Evening Post related the origins of Clergy Appreciation Day.

“In 1992, layperson Jerry Frear, Jr., was brainstorming with church colleagues about how they might be of help to their minister when he glanced at a calendar and noticed that it was almost Groundhog Day. ‘I thought, if they have a day for groundhogs, there ought to be a day for the 375,000 clergy people in America.’ Frear says. So…for the last seven years the second Sunday in October has been set aside to show appreciation for our clergy.”

From there I verified this information on the Christian Standard website.

Now the weird part: This same Jerry Frear, Jr. went to prison for defrauding investors in his dot-com startup.  Now he writes and trains churches on becoming missional. You can read about that here. You can also find him on Linkedin and on blogger.

The best part is from his bio on his blogger.

I’ve served as a pastor for 13 years. 15 years ago my wife and I co-founded Clergy Appreciation Day. We have served pastors and churches with help for their ministries for over 16 years and have helped or impacted over 5,000 pastors and churches. It’s my deepest desire to be part of movement that helps the church become the kingdom builder it needs to be. I love to speak, teach and train on the future church and missional ministry.

The point of this post is not to judge anyone’s relationship with Christ because their sins became public. (Rom 3:23 says we all suck.) I’m just wondering how you make sense of all this?

1 Louis August 25, 2010 at 10:51 am

We helped found a church around 1992 or so. Pastor appreciation day came around the first year and we studiously avoided it because (1) we thought it sounded corny, and (2) it had unintended potentials to (at the same time) glorify the pastor and minimize what it truly means to appreciate one’s pastor.

As a result, we don’t mention it or celebrate it. If people want to show appreciation to the pastor they can do so individually on that day or the other 364 days of the year.

I find it interesting that what caused the layman to propose starting this day was that ground hogs had their own day and it caused him to think why pastors did not.

The logic of that is really interesting.

As to who started the day and the layman’s background, it is no more weird than Kwanza being started by a guy in California, a convicted felon (I believe I have that right), as an “African” type holiday, when the day has absolutely nothing to do with Africa and is not celebrated on that continent.

It is amazing what issues and ideas get traction in this world.

2 hariette petersen (a.k.a. SelahV Today) August 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Louis, I agree completely with your take on appreciation month. Shepherding a church is a lonely business. Just as shepherding a flock in the fields of Bethlehem. But every now and then, the Lord gives His shepherds such a glimpse of glory that nothing can compare to any of earth’s adulation. It’s well worth the wait. selahV

3 Louis August 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Thanks. Have a great day.

4 SSBN August 25, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I was just wondering if anybody ever had the guts to ask: “How much harm is done to the Kingdom of God when people propose that a ‘pastor is just like everybody else?’”

5 stephen fox August 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm

There is a good story about Pastor Appreciation I may have to share with CB Scott’s friend John Killian before giving it view here, told to my Dad by one of his fellow preacher’s who was a great Running Back in Upstate SC in the 1960′s.
I loved the fellow. Used to turn the thermostat up about 7 degrees when he preached on Hell. Had a formula, kept statistics said he’d get about half an increase in the conversion rate for every degree he went up.

But my Dad after 16 years at one place, on his last Sunday and told this story. Said it was a favorite of a former Supe of Education for the County who was a Grand Baptist himself.
Said in the 30′s in lower part of the State things were getting rough on a preacher and he came to a parting with the church, but on his last Sunday, several people spontaneously started testifying in the Morning Service about what he had meant to them and the community and after a good twenty minutes of it the Preacher said I had No Idea you cared this much, I think I’ll just stay here with You.
Couple moans that Sunday mornin for my Dad,but there was some light smiles, grins and muffled Laughter.
He went on and preached the Farewell Sermon and as they say Tuesday of the next week crossed the Blue Ridge Mtns and the Smokies on over to Knoxville for a New Work.
That doesn’t tell the whole story, but kinda my first thoughts on Pastor Appreciation.

6 hariette petersen (a.k.a. SelahV Today) August 25, 2010 at 1:35 pm

SSBN…yes. I have. And have experienced it. He is not and should not be like everyone else. I once had a pastor who became very close friends with my husband and I. He once told me that he never wanted our relationship to become so familiar that we could not see him as our pastor and spiritual leader. I appreciated that in him. He and his wife were mentors to us throughout our ministry. selahV

7 SSBN August 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Harriette, I was pleasantly surprised by your post and keen insight into what it means to be “called and anointed” as a pastor.

I’d love to “just be one of the guys,” but unfortunately the Bible clearly teaches that pastor/teachers will be judged by a stricter standard. A shepherd is not a sheep, but definition.

That doesn’t make us “special” in any ontological way (sorry, my degrees in philosophy of religion) but it does set us apart in a very real way.

I think many confuse pastor appreciation day with the “elevation of the man,” not appreciation for the office. From the tone of the original blog, one would think there is some epidemic of giving too much appreciation to pastors. I can assure you that in 75-85% of typical Baptist churches, this is not a really big problem.

Again, thanks for your post. It shows some real insight into the office of a pastor.

8 hariette petersen (a.k.a. SelahV Today) August 25, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Well, thanks, SSBN…If I didn’t have a bit of insight, I guess I’d be pretty stupid…ha ha. Just kidding. My husband is a retired Southern Baptist minister. I dearly loved serving the Lord by serving His sheep. I was the kind of minister’s wife who supported my husband to the hilt. We had many deacons’ dinners in our home and entertained lots of people who had never ever ever been in the home of a previous minister.

Nearly all the sheep in our flocks had great respect for my husband who has a pastor’s heart. He never ever felt he was used. Sometimes, abused–but never used. He was there for the people of God. And he dropped everything to be by their sides through difficulty, joy, grief and celebration.

We loved the people God gave us. And knew to keep ourselves from even the appearance of sin–so as not to lead anyone to stumble. The Lord gave us wisdom–we had no degrees. Just Boyce Bible School. But one thing our people could rely on from their pastor was a sermon that always lifted up Jesus. Always. God has blessed us greatly.

Sometimes I think the church is changing faster than a pastor can write a newsletter. More and more the pastor seems to be at odds with his own identity. If he doesn’t realize that his messages and authority to preach the Word of God comes from God and not his own brilliance, he’ll soon discover the pews as empty as his sermons. If he fails to bow before the Lord in humble adoration and sacrifice his own desires for the ministry to God’s plan, then he will soon be humbled. God will not be mocked. Even by His called out and annointed ones. He is going to hold them to a much higher accountability for every word he utters and every action he takes. And if that does not make a man to fall on his knees and lay prostrate at times, till the Most High God gives him the marching orders, I shudder to think how he’ll last long in the ministry.

Well, SSBN…this is a topic I love. Ministering. Loving. Sharing the Word of God. God is so very good. Don’t you think? selahV

9 Joe Blackmon August 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm

My personal take on this would be I don’t know the guy well enough to know if he’s genuinely repented. Maybe he has and God will use him to do good work. Of course, anytime someone is associated with “missional” I tend to raise an eyebrow. But that’s just me.

10 Jim Champion August 25, 2010 at 6:11 pm

As a deacon in a church with a great pastor and hard working staff , I am glad for the opportunity to recognize them- even if it is a made up deal. I guess I am more ashamed we don’t do it more often

11 hariette petersen (a.k.a. SelahV Today) August 25, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Jim, we were always recognized in the ministry. several times at birthdays…anniversaries, sometimes with the appreciation month. But all our churches were very generous and kind to us. A long time ago I heard a preacher at one of those pastor’s conferences during the State Conventions. And he said to save all the birthday cards, and cards of encouragement we got from our members. He said to make a “gravy book”, because those encouragements are like the gravy on a pile of mashed potatoes.
He said there will always be a day in a pastor’s ministry when he will feel like walking out on Monday and never look back. And when those dark days come, he’d get out his gravy book and read the letters from people he’d served and impacted for the Savior. And he’d be ready to get back to work.

It is important to uplift your pastor. I’m so glad you do. In our first church, it was so funny one time. The church had celebrated my husband’s 40th birthday by buying him a new suit (a much needed one at that). So when my birthday rolled around two months later, a couple of men from the church came over to the parsonage one night and gave me a birthday card with 40.00 dollars in it and told me to go buy myself a new dress. It was one of the most endearing moments of my time in ministry.

It always has amazed me what God will do for His annointed through His people. truly glorious. So grateful you feel that way about your pastor. selahV

12 Louis August 25, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Jim:

Knowing you from your thoughtful comments on this blog I am sure that you guys do it right and that your pastor and the staff really enjoy it.

Please don’t take my comments as a criticism. Different churches do things differently and I think that is a good thing.

13 Rick August 26, 2010 at 7:54 am

My big problem was the move from a “Day” to a “Month.” Isn’t that a little much? It gets a little awkward even to think about making that kind of fuss.

Yes, the groundhog gets a “day” which everyone knows is bogus because winter will last six more weeks no matter what happens. It’s whimsical, a little bit of silliness to lighten the doldrums of winter. In fact, the best thing about Groundhog Day is the movie!

But think about this: Mothers only get a “day.” How is it that Pastors get a whole “month?” My only other issue with it has to do with Associate Pastors and staff whose ministries sometimes get ignored on Pastor Appreciation Day as all the attention is placed on the Senior Pastor. Any recognitions should include all clergy on staff at a church.

14 stephen fox August 26, 2010 at 7:59 am

Month is about right; Preachers need Love Too.

AT FBC Maytown, Alabama I understand every ten years they take half a year off to Adore the Pastor with monuments, Flowers, Declarations of Appreciation from what’s left of George Wallace’s family and Civil War Re enactments; even Delegations from the Crimson Tide pay Homage.

15 Tom Bryant August 26, 2010 at 8:20 am

It’s always nice to be appreciated but I have always wondered about a job – I know it’s a calling but it’s still a job – that made us stand at the only exit and accept praise for doing the public part of our ministry as people leave.

No month long appreciation of a pastor will ever make up for a church that is heartless towards him and his family for 11 months. I am thankful to be a part of a church that doesn’t do much on pastor appreciation Sunday but treats my wife and I very well all through the year.

16 hariette petersen (a.k.a. SelahV Today) August 26, 2010 at 10:20 am

Tom, it’s indeed hard to love the unlovely. Glad the Lord has blessed you with a great church…makes the blessing all the sweeter to have endured the pain, don’t you think? selahV

17 Jack Maddox August 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Tom Bryant – Spot On!

18 stephen fox August 30, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I had this song on my mind today provoked by a conversation with a fellow waiting to be seated at a Cracker Barrel cause folks from a Baptist Church in Roswell going to Charlotte to see the Billy Graham Library had things backed up.
Could not call it up in my mind for a long time but finally Jesus gave me the name of Lyle Lovett and in that Joy I want to share and hope many of you will even 15 years after pick up his Grand CD Joshua, Judges Ruth:

I went to church last Sunday
So I could sing and pray
But something quite unusual
Happened on that day

Now church it started right on time
Just like it does without a doubt
And everything was all just fine
Except when it came time to let us out

You know the preacher he kept preaching
He told us I have one more thing to say
Children before you think of leaving
You better think about the Judgment Day

Now everyone got nervous
Because everyone was hungry too
And everyone was wondering
What was the next thing he would do

And the preacher he kept preaching
He said now I’ll remind you if I may
You all better pay attention
Or I might decide to preach all day

And now everyone was getting so hungry
That the old ones started feeling ill
And the weak ones started passing out
And the young ones they could not sit still

And the preacher’s voice rose higher
So I snuck up on the balcony
And I crept into the choir
And I begged them brothers, sisters, help me please

I said when I give you a signal
I said when I raise up my hand
Won’t you please join with me together
And praise the Lord I have a plan

And the preacher he kept preaching
Long is the struggle, hard the fight
And I prayed, Father please forgive me
And then I stood up and with all my might
I sang

To the Lord let praises be
It’s time for dinner now let’s go eat
We’ve got some beans and some good cornbread
And I listened to what the preacher said
Now it’s to the Lord let praised be
It’s time for dinner now let’s go eat

Yes and I did give a signal
Yes and I raised up my hands
And then joined with me the choir
Yes every woman, child, and man
They sang

To the Lord let praised be
It’s time for dinner now let’s go eat
We’ve got some beans and some good cornbread
And I’ve listened to what the preacher said
Now it’s to the Lord let praised be
It’s time for dinner now let’s go eat

And the preacher he stopped preaching
And a hush the church did fill
And then a great white dove from up above
Landed on the window sill

And the dove flew down beside him
And a fork appeared right in his hand
And with everybody watching
The preacher ate that bird right there and then

And now everyone got really nervous
And the preacher he did start to glow
And as we watched in disbelief
These were the words he spoke

He said now Mama’s in the kitchen
And she’s been there all day
And I know she’s cooking something good
So let’s bow our heads and pray
And he sang

To the Lord let praises be
It’s time for dinner now let’s go eat
We’ve got some beans and some good cornbread
Now listen to what the preacher said
He said to the Lord let praised be
It’s time for dinner now let’s go eat

And the moral of this story
Children it is plain but true
God knows if a preacher preaches long enough
Even he’ll get hungry too
And he’ll sing

To the Lord let praises be
It’s time for dinner now let’s go eat
We’ve got some beans and some good cornbread
Now listen to what the preacher said
He said to the Lord let praised be
It’s time for dinner now let’s go eat

TRANSLATE LYRICS TO YOUR LANGUAGE

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