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JOE LAGUARDIA: Show your pastor appreciation with personalized presents

Joe LaGuardia

Joe LaGuardia

Every October marks pastor appreciation month. It is a time when many parishioners wrestle with that all-important question: “What do I get my pastor?” Well, I’m glad you asked.

It’s been about two years since I wrote a column on the same subject, but now that I am a more seasoned pastor, I hope that I can help you, dear reader, with some great gift ideas that will express your gratitude and love for your pastor and staff.

So with another pastor appreciation month started, allow me to provide my personal recommendations:

Gift idea No. 1: Write your pastor a letter. Although email, tweets, and Facebook updates are becoming the primary form of correspondences these days, nothing says “We appreciate you” more than a hand-written letter.

I’m not talking about a note here, something you might send after a moving sermon. I’m suggesting a full-out, feature-length letter that expresses your appreciation for all he or she does for you and your church.

It’s one thing to say, “Thank you,” in the letter, but it’s another thing entirely to explain why you are grateful.

Gift idea No. 2: Gather the appropriate church committee or deacons together to organize, in honor of your pastor, a “informal attire day” one Sunday for worship. Let your pastor know that he or she has the permission on this very special day to wear jeans and a golf-like collared shirt (or a t-shirt depending on your church). Invite your church to do the same.

Gift idea No. 3: Get a gift card to your pastor’s favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or bookstore. Of course, that requires asking your pastor to list his or her favorites. Don’t assume that your pastor favors Lifeway, Applebees, or Starbucks. She probably (a) runs on Dunkin, (b) prefers Amazon, and (c) enjoys Chilis over Red Lobster.

Gift idea No. 4: Tickets to the local movie theater. This was no my list (with a few other things written here) last time I wrote about this subject, and I think that it is still one of the best ways that you can communicate to your pastor has a “life” beyond the clergy robe.

Make sure the tickets are open-ended and not necessarily to a specific movie. As an extra blessing, include a gift card so a popcorn-and-drink combo can be purchased at concessions.

Gift idea No. 5: Offer your pastor an overnight stay at your Florida and/or North Georgia mountain summer home. With only the family. Actually this is really important because, once again, it communicates to your pastor that he or she has the ability to do some serious self-care and get guilt-free R-and-R.

Offer to plan worship and get a guest preacher on the weekend that the pastor will be away. And be sure to get a guest preacher who is not as good as your pastor so that people will actually miss the pastor while he is away.

Gift idea No. 6: The last time I wrote a column like this, I recommended getting your pastor a (used) Porsche. Since nobody at my own church got the hint, I’m going to have to recommend something more realistic: Cook for your pastor and his family one evening.

When all is said and done, the fastest way to warm a pastor’s heart will be — and forever will remain — through the stomach.

As we head into pastor appreciation month, we wish you happy gift-hunting. On behalf of all our churchgoers here at Trinity Baptist Church, we also wish our pastors and clergy in Rockdale County blessings and a wonderful autumnal season.

The Rev. Joe LaGuardia is the senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, 301 Honey Creek Road, Conyers. Email him at trinityassociate@bellsouth.net or visit www.trinityconyers.org.