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The Advocate Newsletter
Fall, 2013

October - Pastor Appreciation Month.

Ideas for Pastor Appreciation Month in October

by Diana Davis


Clueless! That's how many churches feel as they contemplate how to express gratitude to their cherished leaders for Pastor Appreciation Month each October. Diana Davis, author of Fresh Ideas for Women's Ministry, offers her top ten suggestions.


10. Lots of letters

On Sunday before Pastor Appreciation Day, distribute stamped envelopes addressed to the pastor. An instruction note invites each church member to write and mail a personal note of encouragement and appreciation to the pastor this week.


9. Award t-shirt

Special order a "Best Pastor in _______" t-shirt, cap, or plaque, and present it with flourish.


8. Original art

Laminate bookmarks created by the children in your church, featuring their art and signatures. Allow kids to present the bookmarks to the pastor personally.


7. Church in a frame

Prepare a beautifully framed photo or painting of the church building. Even better: take a group photo of church members in front of the building. Use extra wide matting and ask every church member to sign the mat before adding glass.


6. Very merry commentary

Purchase a full set of Bible commentaries. Allow various groups, such as Bible classes, committees or church organizations, to present one book of the set, individually wrapped with their personal notes of appreciation on the inside pages.


5. Presentation

Create a presentation of slides of the pastor(s) in action during the past year. Set it to music. Play it as a pre-service video.


4. Public thanks

Take out a full-page ad in your local newspaper, featuring a photo of your pastor and a declaration of your church's love and appreciation. Even better: Add every member's signature on the ad.


3. While you were out

Do a surprise office makeover, with the pastor's wife's input, of course. Hanover Baptist Church in Indiana surprised their pastor with a new home office while he was out of town, complete with paint, décor, furniture, and computer.


2. Million M&Ms

Think of one small thing your pastor enjoys - M&Ms, fishing lures, coffee, etc. Ask each member to bring that item on Sunday, i.e. one bag, any size, of M&Ms. Supply extras for guests or forgetful members.


1. Thirty days of appreciation

Use an October calendar to schedule volunteers for a month-long schedule of surprise treats. Each day of the month, the pastor will receive a surprise token of appreciation from a church member, committee or group within the church. The tributes will vary widely-a balloon delivery, a shoe shine, an apple pie, a gift. After a whole month of pleasant surprises, won't your pastor feel appreciated?


And won't God be honored by your acts of love for his servant? Don't forget to include a sincere note with specific reasons you appreciate the minister's spiritual leadership, dedication, time and commitment.


Honor God by honoring His servants, with a thoughtful, personalized encouragement that fits your unique church and pastor.


Free Download: Pastor Appreciation Month Worksheet - as you look for ways to express appreciation to these faithful servants, use this simple worksheet as a guide. Have your pastor and/or ministry staff fill in the blanks.


Check out the Christian Hospitality Network ( where you will find discounted rates at over 700 CHN bed and breakfasts.  When you call be sure to ask about ministry discounts.

A Pastor's Perspective
"I'm Not Perfect"

I'm sure you know that I'm not perfect. Yet people think I have the answers they need. Some folks think that I know everything in the Bible. I don't! Some people think that I know God's will for their lives. But I don't have a map for their every decision in life. Nor for my own. I have to stay close to Jesus and the Father, just as we all should. I only know His will where God has already revealed it in his Word. And even that, I need to hold in humility because I might misunderstand or have received misinformation from my teachers. Most of the pastors I know, including me, have had to adjust their theology as they discovered texts they had misunderstood or had experiences that proved that their interpretation may have been colored by something other than careful study. We also learn more as we mature in spiritual truth and facility with the Word of God. Thank the Lord that I don't believe some of the things today that I did when I was a child or adolescent. And I'm so grateful that the Lord has revealed the things we need to walk with Him.


I'm human, I'm limited, I'm not perfect, but I'm striving for spiritual maturity. I'm totally committed to Him and growing more mature daily as I race toward the Resurrection. So I agree and identify with the Apostle Paul when he said:


"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward-to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision-you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it." (Philippians 3:12-16, The Message)


Please allow me the grace to make mistakes, fall short, occasionally disappoint your expectations. I seek to be a blessing to you. I'm on your side. Together we can pursue all that God has for us. Let's be perfect in our passion for Jesus. By the way, the term perfect in the Greek text of the above passage has the denotative definition of "completeness," or "maturity."


Thanks for understanding. Thanks for being my advocate.


I hope the fictional dialog above helps you always to be a blessing to your pastor(s). Every blessing,


  Dave Alves Dave Alves Signature




Tripp, Paul David. A Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Wheaten, IL: Crossway Books, 2012. 240 pages. 


DISCLAIMER: This column deals with real pastoral issues through a fictional voice. The perspective may or may not be shared by your pastor, nor by Dr. Alves. Rather, the issues and realities are familiar to most pastors. It is simply written to give Advocates a window into pastoral ministry-- its issues, challenges, joys, and struggles. Hopefully it makes you a better advocate and friend to your pastor.

How Much Time Do Pastors Spend Preparing a Sermon?

By Thom S. Rainer , Christian Post Contributor

June 24, 2013 8:33 am

Most church members give little thought to the amount of time it takes a pastor to prepare each sermon. In reality, sermon preparation is a large portion of a pastor's workweek. Unfortunately, this work is invisible to typical church members. They don't realize the enormous amount of time it takes just to prepare one sermon.


I recently conducted an unscientific Twitter poll to ask pastors precisely how much time they spend in sermon preparation. For this question I asked for the amount of preparation time for one sermon. Many pastors must prepare more than one sermon per week, so their workload to prepare to preach is even greater.


I am pleased and appreciative for the number of responses I received. Here are the results of the poll by three-hour increments:


1 to 3 hours - 1%
4 to 6 hours - 9%
7 to 9 hours - 15%
10 to 12 hours - 22%
13 to 15 hours - 24%
16 to 18 hours - 23%
19 to 21 hours - 2%
22 to 24 hours - 0%
25 to 27 hours - 1%
28 to 30 hours - 2%
31 to 33 hours - 1%


The results were fascinating to me. Here are some key points I found in the study:

  • Most pastors responded with a range of hours. I took the midpoint of each range for my data.
  • 70% of pastors' sermon preparation time is the narrow range of 10 to 18 hours per sermon.
  • Keep in mind that these numbers represent sermon preparation time for just one sermon. Many pastors spend 30 or more hours in preparing messages each week.
  • The median time for sermon preparation in this study is 13 hours. That means that half of the respondents gave a number under 13 hours; the other half gave a number greater than 13 hours.
  • Most of the respondents who gave a response under 12 hours indicated they were bivocational pastors.
  • If the sermon was part of a series, the pastors indicated they spent even more upfront time to develop the theme and preliminary issues for the sermons to be preached.
  • Many of the pastors are frustrated that they don't have more time for sermon preparation.
  • A number of the pastors indicated that finding consistent and uninterrupted sermon preparation time was difficult.
  • Most pastors have workweeks much longer than we realize because of the invisible nature of sermon preparation. As for me, the results of this poll have caused me to pray even more fervently for my pastor. His work is long. His work is never-ending. But the work he does is vitally important.

I pray that we all will remember to pray for our pastors ever day.

Personal Life of the Pastor

HELP AROUND HIS YARD. On his Sabbath, the last thing a pastor probably wants to do is prune trees, cut grass (unless he enjoys mowing), trim hedges, and clean up. Offer to bring in a crew to do it all so he can select his "rest of choice" for his day of rest and leisure. This is a wonderful way to show that you care for his well-being. This is especially important if the pastor lives in the church parsonage.


Arrange for a Lifegroup to paint his house (or powerwash it if it's siding) on two consecutive Saturdays, and make certain you check with his wife on the colors. Also plan a barbecue where he and his wife don't have to do any cleanup.


PROVIDE A WINTER'S WORTH OF FIREWOOD-CUT, DELIVERED, AND STACKED. Ignore this tip if you live in Hawaii. Or Florida. Or your pastor doesn't have a stove.




RESPECT YOUR PASTOR'S PRIVACY. Give your pastoral families an undisturbed dinner hour between 5:00PM and 8:00 P.M. Don't call before 7:00 AM. or after 10:00 P.M., except in true emergencies. Use directory assistance or the church directory rather than calling the Lifegroup leaders or the pastoral leaders at church or home for phone numbers of church family. And, very important, do not call the pastor on his Sabbath (except in extreme emergency or in a situation that you know would upset him if you didn't call).


ON SHARING GIFTS. If you have gifts to share with the pastor's family, consider giving them through the pastor so that he will receive honor in the eyes of his family. Often, he may not be able to afford to give gifts to his family, especially if his family is large.



Start-up Ideas for Advocates
D. Alves

  • Meet together as advocates on a regular basis. Pray and seek the Lord. Ask Him for direction. 
  • Develop a plan. Work your plan. Some aspects you may share with the pastor, but you walk a fine line of credibility with the church leadership. You don't want to give the impression that your pastor is giving you all your ideas or that he is directing your efforts on his behalf. Talk transparently with the elders or church board (whichever makes the decisions and proposes the budget). 
  • Spend a year getting to know your pastor and his family. Invite them to a dinner hosted by the advocates. Let them know that you "have their backs," by covering them in prayer. 
  • Put into practice some of the ideas you find here in "The Advocate." Develop your own creative list of ways to bless your pastor that spring from you having considered his interests, needs, and dreams. 
  • Officially ask the leadership/elders to give you a budget line for "Pastoral Encouragement." You can do this by email or letter. The best time to propose budget items in most churches is in October, when they begin to put together the budget/resource goals for the coming year. Make the encouragement fund generous and reasonable. Also make it automatic in the annual budget. The budgeted amount should take into consideration Anniversary years, Sabbatical year, approaching retirement, and special needs of the pastoral family. For example: a $6,000. investment here may eliminate much higher expenses to replace or care for a depleted, worn-out leader. 
  • Use the budget line for some of the Practical Ideas for Pastoral Encouragement and Refreshment. 
  • Help to establish "A Sabbatical Policy" at your church. How? First acquire and read A Sabbatical Primer for Churches,* by me (David C Alves). At the end I have both samples and a suggested procedure for approaching the leadership/congregation with the proposed policy. My eBook is available at for Kindle and in booklet form. But also read, A Sabbatical Primer for Pastors.* This will give you insight into how pastors should initiate and navigate their sabbatical. 
  • You can also get copies of the Winter 2012 edition of The Witness. The entire issue lays out the what and why of pastoral health, rest, and sabbaticals. It delves into the need pastors have as a result of the modern challenges of 21st century ministry.

    Pastor Steve Ludwick gives his sabbatical testimony in this issue. He shares transparently, the need he felt, how he became aware of it, and what the conference and church did to care for him. Pass these out to key leaders. Ask the pastoral family to read it if they haven't yet.
  • Read A Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, by Paul David Tripp. Someone in your congregation needs to care about the issues presented in this book. God may use the advocates to be friends and intercessors supporting the pastoral family. You need to understand their issues and challenges. You also need to walk in your roles in humility and not fall into the trap of thinking that you're the pastor's pastors, or you will find yourselves in spiritual quicksand. 
  • Talk with the pastor. Let him know you're grateful he chose you to be a pastoral advocate from your church. 
  • Write or email the Eastern Regional Office ( or (603) 332-1412) and let us know what progress you're making as advocates. If you need help, let us know. We'll be glad to not only provide you with resources, but have your conference pastoral health team member come and meet with you. Or if needed, you can invite someone from the Regional office. We're all about helping you minister health to your pastor and his family.  

 The above is an excerpt from the forthcoming eBook, A Sabbatical Primer for Pastors: Initiating and Navigating a Pastoral Renewal Leave, by David Alves.


* not currently available for purchase - it will be available before Christmas.


Your Pastor has Beautiful Feet


How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"  - Romans 10:14


Tell him so!


The Advocate Newsletter is published as a ministry of the Eastern Regional Association of the Advent Christian General Conference.


Gregory Twitchell, Superintendent,

David Alves, Team Leader for Pastoral Health,

Carolyn Schaeffner, Administrative Secretary, 



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