The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has announced the launch of the 2021 ‘Bless Your Pastor’ campaign, looking toward Pastor Appreciation Month in October.Earlier this year, the Barna Group found that 29 percent of the Protestant pastors they surveyed had given “real, serious consideration to quitting being in full time ministry within the last year.”
According to Brian Kluth, national spokesperson of Bless Your Pastor, “Pastors and church staff are worn out. They have tirelessly served their churches and communities through a very difficult season with little respite. Now is an important time to let them know how appreciated they are. Let’s bless pastors and church staff across America like never before.”
What the Numbers Say: Pastors Are in Crisis and Need Our Care
The NAE’s national research has shown that pastors face very real personal and financial challenges:
- 90% of pastors are experiencing financial stress (which has increased since COVID-19).
- 83% of pastors are providing both in person and online worship services to care for their flock.
- 60% of pastors receive no retirement, health care or employee benefits.
- 40% of pastor spouses serve the church 20 or more hours per week, normally without any pay.
- 34% of churches have seen their giving decrease because of COVID-19.
The Bless Your Pastor movement, sponsored by the NAE through a generous grant, has spread across the nation over the last two years. More than 2,000 churches have participated and collected $1.2 million+ in appreciation offerings for their pastors. The NAE has provided $500,000 in Amazon gift cards to thousands of senior pastors.
“Even before this crisis, the majority of pastors and their families were walking a financial tightrope — teetering on the edge of serious debt and wondering how they could pay essential bills,” Kluth said. One grateful pastor commented, “There is a special feeling when you are blindsided by love.” According to NAE’s research, half of America’s pastors earn less than $50,000 per year and work 50–70 hours per week.
It’s Easy as 1-2-3 to Bless Pastors
The Bless Your Pastor campaign offers three steps for churches to help their pastors feel appreciated. The plan includes: sharing a list of 50 Creative Ways to Bless Your Pastor and Staff with congregation members; taking up an appreciation offering for their pastor; and celebrating the pastor publicly. For every new church that participates and completes all three steps, the senior pastor will be sent a $100 Amazon gift card from the NAE.