Heroes, Too: Movement Honors Pandemic-Worn Pastors
By Carl Stagner
And we thought pastors needed appreciation before. Shepherding the flock wasn’t so bad when worship wars and disputes over the color of the carpet were the worst of our problems. Of course, every congregation had faced more consequential matters, but few could have understood until this year the depth of difficulty associated with a pandemic, exacerbated by racial and political tensions, over a seven-month span. Thankfully, congregations across the Church of God have already taken intentional steps to ensure the spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being of their pastors.
Early in the COVID-19 crisis, a meme was circling far and wide calling attention to those “other” essential workers known as pastors. Arguing that “your pastor has never pastored your church through a pandemic before,” the popular post reminded many a parishioner to extend grace to the human being behind the pulpit—and in front of the camera, more precisely. Facing increasingly polarized congregants wielding pointed perspectives, ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ had to scramble to learn new technology, stay connected but socially distanced with church members, and make the best decisions they could while inevitably offending someone. Pastor Appreciation Month couldn’t be more vital this year to these often unsung heroes. Thankfully, many congregations of the Church of God are stepping up to express appreciation.
Sandwiched between commentary about the presidential election, COVID-19, racial tensions, and recipes for pumpkin-spice anything, social media posts reflecting this season of gratitude have begun to emerge. One of the most common ways laypeople and pastors are honoring pandemic-worn pastors is by giving them a shout-out on Facebook. It’s not hard to do, ministers who use Facebook can be tagged (alerted), and others can recognize the honor bestowed. One individual announced early this month he’d launched a series of regular posts through October dedicated to publicly thanking various pastors who had made a great impact on him over the years. Others have highlighted their most influential spiritual heroes in a single post.
But even these expressions of appreciation can be easily drowned out by the noise of our busy, chaotic, and crazy world. Too many pastors have endured persistent peaking of stress levels, often followed by new lows of discouragement and depression. Regional pastors of the Church of God are among many advocates of local pastors this year, calling congregations to recognize the humanity of their spiritual leaders and take action. In addition encouraging daily intercession, several state pastors have urged local church boards to insist pastors take some much-needed time off. This is hard for many pastors to do, as these spiritual overseers desperately want to continue to provide maximum care for their congregations amid the current cultural climate. But pastors need a break now, not later. Thankfully, numerous Church of God congregations have already ensured pulpit supply and alternate leadership plans, giving tired pastors refreshing days away with their families.
What about gift cards, acts of service, thank-you notes in the mail, love offerings, and other traditional and innovative ways to celebrate your pastor? Absolutely. These are sure to lift the demeanor of pastors everywhere. You may even make their day!
In recent years, Church of God Ministries has identified Bless Your Pastor as a trusted resource for all things Pastor Appreciation Month. For more information, ideas, and encouragement regarding this special annual observance dating back twenty-eight years, visit www.blessyourpastor.org.
Feature (top) image: Cake honoring one of our Oklahoma pastor families (archive).