Pastors impact lives! They are leaders who provide spiritual counsel, administer sacraments and bring Scripture to life through sermons. They accompany us in the midst of significant life events: baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals. In the highs and the lows, pastors provide care and support. They empower us to more clearly witness God’s presence in our own lives and in the world.

October is a wonderful time to celebrate pastors because it’s Clergy Appreciation Month. Here are five ways to honor your church leaders.

Send a letter to a pastor who has made a meaningful impression on you.Reflect back on the course of your life. Was there a pastor who supported you at an important time? Consider writing that person a letter and then mailing it! Oftentimes pastors don’t realize the significance of their compassionate presence. Your letter can provide a big dose of encouragement.

Reach out to someone in whom you see gifts for church leadership.My call to ministry began externally with people who said, "Emily, we think you’d make a great pastor. Please consider going to seminary." Without those friends and family members in my life, I’d never have done it. As you celebrate Clergy Appreciation Month, think about the people you know who would be vibrant, effective church leaders. With the variety of seminary programs now available, people can enter into ministry at any age and stage of life. If someone you know has the skills for church leadership, tell them!

Pray for your pastor and your pastor’s family.The person leading your family of faith benefits immensely from your prayers! Regardless of whether you "like" your current minister (and they’re sermons/clothing style/leadership), please pray for that person and their family members. Instead of letting personal criticisms take root, commit to consistently lifting them up to God in prayer.

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Ensure your congregation has a functioning Mutual Ministry Team and check-in regularly with your pastor.Pastors are often under tremendous (and sometimes competing) pressures coming from multiple directions. A significant way you can support your minister is by ensuring your family of faith has a Mutual Ministry Team (these committees go by other names, too). These special groups are made up of congregational members with a key focus on supporting the spiritual, emotional and physical health of their pastor. Healthy church leaders support healthy congregations, and healthy congregations support healthy church leaders. Explore intentional ways to support the ministry of your pastor.

Incorporate Clergy Appreciation Month into the life of the whole congregation.In the weeks ahead, lift up Clergy Appreciation Month in worship on Sundays! Sing your pastor’s favorite hymn. Utilize a special prayer liturgy asking for God’s blessing upon your pastor’s leadership. Include an expression of gratitude during an upcoming fellowship hour. Spread the net of appreciation across the congregation as together you express collective thanks to the clergy person who has been called to serve you.

There are many ways to honor how God is at work in your community through your congregation and pastor. Consider incorporating a few of the suggestions on this list into the weeks ahead, and invite others in your faith family to do the same.