Saturday, October 29, 2005

Why I Like Halloween Better Than Pastor Appreciation Day

Late in October, there is a frightening creature that comes moaning and groaning out of the shadows. It is the ultra-conservative Christian who feels obligated to come to my office to insist that we do something to stop all this demonic Halloween business.

"It's destroying the children," one might say to me. "It's so evil with all this emphasis on witches." Perhaps even with a tear in her eye she will add, "I'm just thinking of the children. Can't we just have the children dress up as Bible characters?"

What fun is that?

There are only four possible costumes -- Jewish lady from the Bible, Jewish guy from the Bible, Roman guy from the Bible, and John the Baptist dressed like a nut and eating bugs.

Hmmmm, what could we do with Bible characters for Halloween?

Sisera -- costume includes a nail in the head, with lots of blood running down. (Judges 4:21)

Guard -- holding his ear in his hand, with lots of blood running down his head. (Matthew 26:51)

The daughter of Herodius -- dressed as an erotic dancer, holding a covered platter. Instead of saying "trick or treat" when someone opens the door -- she could lift the lid revealing the head of John the Baptist on the plate, with lots of blood running down from his head. (Mark 6:22-24)

Hamor -- crying in pain, holding his crotch, blood running from it. (Genesis 34:21-29)

Actually, this is getting fun -- but my point is that unlike those conservative Christian ladies who think only of the good of the children, I'm thinking of enjoying another viewing of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, dressing up like Hannible Lecter and giving out some candy at the door. Best of all, I'm looking forward to all the left over candy :)

Halloween is the best part of October and damned those dastardly damsels who would spoil my fun.

On the other hand, the worst part of October is something called Pastor Appreciation Month. It is described online as "a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for the hard work, sacrificial dedication and yada yada yada..."

My experience with Pastor Appreciation Month is that it is a lot like getting through Father's Day without the kids giving you so much as a tie. It's a birthday that goes by unnoticed. Or an anniversary that forces you to say "I love this gift," when in your heart you're thinking, "what the hell is this?"

I meet few pastors who have ever had a good experience with it. Usually it is an after thought of someone in the church, nothing more.

One buddy had the church members come up and pin money and checks to his robe! No loose change there :) Great idea, but he says afterwards his robe was full of little holes.

Fellow blogger "Down Right Jenny" gave her pastor brocolli. Brocolli?

Another buddy served a church that put together a photo album of his ministry. I like that one. A lot!

I think the best story I ever heard was from a preacher buddy who used to serve a church not far from where I serve. He and his Associate were given pedicures and massages at a nearby spa. But he also said he thought it was the work of a small number of church members -- and Pastor Appreciation Month really should involve everyone in the congregation. Those same two pastors also received a cruise to the Bahamas for their annual retreat one year, but again he says it was made possible by an anonymous gift of a single individual.

If individuals are going to do things -- fine, but someone on the Personnel Committee, Pastor Parish Relations Committee, Session or Vestry should remind people that it is Pastor Appreciation Month. This should be a community gesture.

I got one card this year -- it came from a lady who runs the local Hallmark store.

I made a list of Halloween Costumes, here's my list of things to do for Pastor Appreciation Month... If you read this on the day I post this, you've got ONE SUNDAY left to take action. Some of these suggestions take a while to organize, so start planning now for next year.

1. Organize a Thank You book. We often do this when people retire or resign to go somewhere else. Why wait? Get everyone in the church to write a letter, telling the pastor how much he or she has been appreciated. Encourage personal stories to be included. Have the letters sent to an Elder or chair of a committee -- put them in a book and present the book to the pastor on Sunday.

2. Gift certificate -- NO, not at the local Christian Book store. The church already provides expense accounts for that. Make it enough to Men's Wearhouse or something and make it enough to buy a new suit -- especially if you expect the pastor to wear a stuffy old suit all the time. Other possible gift certificates? I like my buddy's experience with the massage and pedicure. I'd love for someone to give me a nice toe nail clipping. On the other hand, Red Lobster or the Olive Garden are also nice.

3. Weekend Vacation -- and I'm not suggesting a cruise like that buddy had. Someone in the church has a house on the beach or a cabin in the mountains just a short drive from the church. Give it up for a weekend. AND -- and this is very important -- give the pastor a free, additional Sunday off for that weekend. He or she may have all sorts of other plans for the rest of the year's vacation. Provide a couple of gift certificates to restaurants in that area.

Those are big things -- other things could be a picnic in the pastor's honor, or a congregational meal. Perhaps a presentation of a small gift during the worship service.

The best suggestions I've seen so far can be found at "My Heart Waits" in that blogger's October 12th posting.

I may sound like I'm a bit hurt by being ignored on Pastor Appreciation Month -- I'm not. I've grown used to nothing happening except a single card or an occasional loaf of homemade bread.

But I've been working with one of the churches in the Presbytery that is in conflict (see my post from a few days ago on the Wolves -- They Sit In Pews And Get Elected To The Session). I think it is important to the health of the congregation to participate in Pastor Appreciation Month.


Blogger Rodger Sellers said...

Man oh man am I laughing at the halloween costumes from the Bible!!! Please, please tell me you shared this Biblically perfect list with the little old lady who came to your office wanting to "nuke" halloween?

I've got quite a few memories playing in my head of a few of those same folks in former offices of mine -- only wish I could have been fast enough on my feet to think of that as the answer!

My only suggestion to add to the list -- cover your entire body with vasoline and aloe vera gel and go as Jonah fresh out of the fish's digestive system!


3:28 PM  
Blogger doodlebugmom said...

I must admit, I didn't even know there was a Clergy Appreciation Month.

I posted on my own blog a while back about a birthday like that. All I did was make my favorite cousin feel very guilty!

Everyone likes to be appreciated.

This past week, my boss did tell me I was a "smart, hot chick." He meant well, but I had to laugh. I am a 40 year old mom. Not a chick. Definately not hot. Smart...ok I will take that one! LOL

Hope you get some nice gifts. There should be a Married-to-a-Pastor day too. Our pastor's wife endures A LOT!

3:45 PM  
Anonymous KC said...

You got a card??? I got an online card...hehe...Ilike your take on Halloween...great costume ideas...

4:05 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

I lovelovelove your halloween ideas and was laughing in spite of myself.

just excellent.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Jenny Sherman said...

You wouldn't LOVE brocolli? What's wrong with you? LOL!

I do hope you are appreciated ALL year round by your congregants. My husband doesn't make much out of Valentines Day or my birthday at all, but I can't really complain since he's a prince throughout the year.

Happy Pastor Appreciation Day/Month, Apostle John. Now eat your greens!


9:11 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

My six year old asked me where Halloween comes from. he wants to know what everybody is celebrating. What should I tell him?

10:02 PM  
Blogger Danny Wahlquist said...

It's not the conservative christians, but the grace killers that you need to watch.
See "The Grace Awakening" by Chuck Swindoll: In this best-selling classic, Charles Swindoll awakens readers to the life-impacting realities of God's grace, the freedom and joy it brings, the fear it cures, the strength it lends to relationships and the ever-increasing desire to know God. A modern day classic from Charles Swindoll.

Know you service to the LORD is appreciated by the One that counts!

6:31 AM  
Anonymous RG said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Lorna said...

we don't have hallowe'en or pastors' appreciation day here.

great ideas of how to appeciate your pastor :) ours will turn 40 this spring - it would be nice to give him and his wife a weekend in a hotel or something fun that they'd not think of doing themselves :)

liked your ideas of hallowe'en suits - as I said in Finland we don't celebrate it - a few things have come over from teh USA but they are all about gremlins and stuff and I think I'll stick with hallowe'en lessness for now :)

blessings :) enjoy the home made bread! or was it cake ROFL

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

I love the Church Halloween ideas! LOL! And -- it seems our friend RG is back in rare form -- (maybe)! Whatever -- keep up the great work!

3:38 PM  
Blogger cheesehead said...

Hmmm... let me think...appreciation day...nope...can't say as Ive heard of it...neither has my congregation. Oh well.

Great costume ideas!

5:05 PM  
Blogger B.J. Sanders said...

Thanks for visiting my blog at My Heart Waits. I like your blog. Hope your congregation lets you know how much they appreciate you. God bless you in your ministry!
--Brenda Sanders, Independence, MO

3:40 PM  

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