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At a recent luncheon for San Diego area chaplains, the question came up as to the difference between clergy appreciation and pastor appreciation.

Now to get a handle on who was at that luncheon, picture in your mind 6 military chaplains, a police chaplain, and a healthcare chaplain all meeting with the executive director of our denominational chaplain ministries department.

Now whether our conversation settled the question as to the difference in using the term clergy as opposed to the term pastor, we all agreed that pastor appreciation and/or clergy appreciation was a positive attribute of a healthy church.

While we bantered around the semantics involved in using the proper term, we were all satisfied with the conclusion of our denominational executive director’s explanation. (He retired with the rank of major so that might be the reason for our agreeing with him).

He felt that the term clergy and clergy appreciation was inclusive of a wider group of spiritual care givers than the term pastor or pastor appreciation.

Now some would expect a chaplain to come up with a wider definition like clergy appreciation because the term pastor is often reserved for those who shepherd a local church.

In fact, there are still those who feel as if someone provides pastoral care outside the ministry of a local church, they have “left the ministry“. What an unfortunate conclusion, since most ministry take place outside the walls of a local church.

Nonetheless, while he sees a difference between clergy appreciation and pastor appreciation, I see them as meaning the same thing. I would just ask that churches expand their definition of pastor to mean clergy who serve as spiritual caregivers no matter the ministry setting.

Who Would Be Included In The Term Clergy?

Of course you would expect me to say chaplains but that includes quite a few diverse chaplain designations:

  1. Military chaplains, such as Navy chaplains, Army chaplains, Air Force chaplains (Hey, you left out Marine chaplains. No, they are served by the Navy chaplains). Remember these courageous pastoral care providers in your pastor appreciation month activities.
  2. Healthcare chaplains, which includes hospital chaplains and hospice chaplains, would be included in your pastor appreciation month ideas.
  3. Police chaplains and Firefighter chaplains would certainly be pastors honored when implementing pastor appreciation day ideas.
  4. Industrial and business chaplains should also be included in your clergy appreciation programs and plans.

Other Pastoral Care Providers To Include In Our Pastor Appreciation List

Are there other pastoral care providers to include in our pastor appreciation list of clergy?

How about missionaries serving around the world in ministry settings outside a local church pastoral assignment. Many of these missionary clergy provide spiritual care to those who would never attend a local church.

The same could be said of directors of inner city missions, those pastoral care givers who serve the spiritual needs of the homeless, of those whose lives have been affected by alcohol or drugs.

Well,obviously when it comes to expressing clergy appreciation, giving pastor appreciation gifts, think beyond the 4 walls of a church building in your ideas for clergy appreciation.

Since I am sure I have left out those who deserve pastor appreciation tribute, I will put a form for you to use to suggest more clergy groups deserving pastor appreciation.

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