The newly launched Bless Your Pastor campaign (BlessYourPastor.org) has gained quick momentum as thousands across America have signed up to be part of the movement. The campaign is focused on encouraging and equipping America’s churchgoing faithful to “show and share God’s love” for their hard-working — and often under-compensated — pastors during Pastor Appreciation Month in October.
Bless Your Pastor, a campaign of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), is part of a larger initiative to address financial challenges faced by pastors and is funded by a $1 million, 3-year grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. NAE’s research discovered that 90 percent of pastors feel financial stress, 60 percent receive no healthcare or retirement benefits from their church, half earn less than $50,000 per year, and 30 percent have student loan debt averaging $36,000.
“Bless Your Pastor invites churches to tackle hidden financial hardships among many of our pastors,” said Brian Kluth, spokesperson for Bless Your Pastor. “You can play a role in blessing your pastor and truly making a difference for the kingdom of God.”
Several denominations and ministries have decided to partner with Bless Your Pastor including: Assemblies of God, The Wesleyan Church, Church of the Nazarene, Evangelical Free Church of America, Free Methodist Church USA, Converge Worldwide, Open Bible Churches, United Brethren in Christ, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Advent Christian General Conference, Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, Evangelical Congregational Church, International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, and Reformed Church in America.
Pastor Appreciation Month (formerly Clergy Appreciation Month) was established in 1992 by Focus on the Family. During Pastor Appreciation Month, the Bless Your Pastor campaign invites churches to “show and share” God’s love for their pastors, and offers ideas and free resources on its website, including a $150 Amazon gift card for churches that take an appreciation offering for their pastor and complete an online report form.
A free list of “Over 50 Ways to Show God’s Love for Your Pastor” can be downloaded at BlessYourPastor.org to help spur congregations to do simple and creative acts of appreciation. Ideas include babysitting the pastor’s children, giving the pastor’s family a fun day out together, helping with car repairs or home improvement projects, or a handwritten note or Facebook shout-out.
One pastor recalled how a member of his congregation planted tulip bulbs in his yard. When the flowers bloomed in the spring, the pastor said he was reminded every day that he was loved and appreciated.
“This is America’s opportunity to show our pastors how much we truly appreciate their dedication, their sacrifice, and their care for us,” Kluth said. “Being a pastor is one of the most difficult jobs. It’s a calling that requires deep love, patience, endurance and personal sacrifice. We all need a little encouragement in our lives.”
The NAE will send a $150 Amazon gift card to the senior pastors of churches that take up a special offering for their pastors (and staff, if applicable) and complete the online form at BlessYourPastor.org.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly, Sr., and sons, Eli and J.K., Jr. — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.
The mission of the National Association of Evangelicals is to honor God by connecting and representing evangelical Christians. The NAE includes more than 45,000 churches from 40 denominations and serves a constituency of millions. Founded in 1942, the NAE is currently led by President Leith Anderson.