So you've been asked to give a pastor appreciation sermon but you don't know where to start. Not to worry.
I wanted to be ready in case my church asked me to preach a clergy appreciation sermon. So I wrote a sermon just in case. They didn't ask me, so you might as well use it!
And if you need another sermon, a children's sermon, a children's skit, a children's activity sheet, a planning guide, or almost anything else to help you plan and put on your service or event, take a look at our Pastor Appreciation Workbook.
For this pastor appreciation sermon I decided to use 2 Corinthians 11:23b - 29 as my text for this pastor appreciation day sermon. The New English Bible (NET Bible) reads this way:
I have endured "much greater labors, with far more imprisonments, with more severe beatings, facing death many times. Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with a rod. Once I received a stoning. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent adrift in the open sea. I have been on journeys many times, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own countrymen, in dangers from Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers from false brothers, in hard work and toil, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, many times without food, in cold and without enough clothing. Apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation?"
2 Corinthians is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church in the city of Corinth. There were some people in that church that frequently criticized Paul. They suggested that the instructions he gave to the Corinthian church were less important than the teachings of the other Apostles.
Paul needed them to understand that he was representing Christ as an official Apostle so that they would respect and obey his teaching. So he was in the awkward position of having to say things that would prove that he was an Apostle.
In the passage, Paul is comparing himself to the other Apostles, showing how he had endured just as much or even more for the gospel than had the other Apostles.
II. Read the Bible Passage
III. Briefly explain and describe the hardships listed in verses 23-27
IV. Re-read verses 28-29 - Explain, illustrate, and apply the point (This is where you will spend most of your time.)
V. Conclusion - Pray for your pastor, thanking God for giving him to you.
Introduction. If you use the "Top 10" skit, replace number one with: "He asked me to preach for him today."
Transition. To transition from the pastor appreciation sermon introduction to the actual pastor appreciation sermon, you might say something like this (if you used the Top 10 skit): "No, that's not why I'm speaking today. Today is a special day... a day set aside to honor our pastor and his wife. So I would like to take the next few minutes and explain why we need to be thankful for our pastor. Please follow along as I read 2 Corinthians 11:23-29."
Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-29.
Briefly Describe the Hardships Listed in Verses 23-27. Use some of these passages as you prepare to describe Paul's hardships. You won't have time in your pastor appreciation sermon to have the congregation look at them all, so you'll have to choose a couple that do the best job at describing Paul's hardships. But you can use all of them as you prepare... they will help you better understand what Paul went through.
After describing Paul's hardships, transition to your next point. Say something like, "It's hard to imagine any one of these horrible situations. But Paul experienced all of them!
That's what makes his next statement so incredible.
Read verses 28-29 Again. Talk first about the first few words in verse 28. You might say, "Paul writes, 'Beside all this...' or we might say, 'In addition to all these hardships there is one more.'
What more could there be!? What else could possibly be added to this list of overwhelming hardships? What could be as hard as beatings, stonings, and shipwrecks?
The one thing that is as hard on Paul as these other hardships is, 'the daily burden of how the churches are getting along' (New Living Translation); or as the NET Bible puts it, 'the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern for all the churches.'"
This is a key transition in your pastor appreciation sermon. So run through that thought process a couple times so that it sinks into your listeners. Emphasize that Paul is saying that his physical hardships are no more difficult than his constant concern for the people in the churches he started.
To reinforce his point, Paul adds a couple illustrations of his "constant concern" in verse 29.
Paul is so concerned about others that he bears their burdens as if they were his own. When people are weak or sick, he shares their pain. When people are led into sin he gets emotionally involved. Paul carries the heavy burden of all the sorrows, failures, joys, and pains of each person in his churches.
At this point in the pastor appreciation sermon people will likely have slightly confused looks on their faces. What you say in the next 60 seconds will determine if they continue to listen or tune you out... no pressure! You made a statement about the burden Paul carries. Now you need to illustrate it or risk losing your audiance.
The simplest way I know to illustrate this is to compare Paul's concern with the "daily concern" of a parent for his or her child. This will help to clarify your point. However, be careful because many people are not parents. And if you press the illustration too far you will end up making people think that their pastor considers them his children.
Use a couple specific illustrations. You might talk about a parent taking their child to her first day of school. Describe the scene briefly so that people get emotionally involved as they remember taking their own child or being taken by their parent. What goes through a parent's mind? All day long they wonder what is happening: who is she talking to, are the other kids being mean to her, is she crying? Paul carries those same kinds of concerns and thoughts with him about the people in his churches.
Follow up that illustration with a short description of a parent with adult children. Though their kids are far away, their thoughts and concerns sometimes overwhelm them as the parent hopes and prays that his son makes wise choices. This is the type of daily burden Paul carries.
Transition to application. Though Paul was an apostle, he was first and most importantly a pastor. As a pastor he considered the daily concern for people in his congregation to be as difficult to bear as being beaten or being shipwrecked. And as you might expect, this is true of all pastors... this is true of our pastor.
At this point in your pastor appreciation sermon ay something like, "It is obvious that Pastor [name] loves each of us, is concerned for us, prays for us, and thinks about us. That is what we see. But that is not all there is.
"Our pastor walks with us in ways we can't understand. His concern for us is so deep and so powerful that thoughts of us often keep him up at night. He reads the newspaper and watches TV with us in mind. He worries that we will read the latest new book and be led astray from the truth. His emotions rise and fall every time someone from his congregation goes into the hospital for tests. He grieves with those who have lost and rejoices with those who get a new beginning.
"Pastor [name] moves from a funeral to a wedding rehearsal as a professional... he is outwardly dignified showing just the right emotion for the occasion.
"But inside he is haunted by the grief of a family, and overwhelmed with excitement for the young couple to be married. He urges the couple toward fidelity and faith and shepherd's the grieving family through anger, resentment, denial, and grief. And he carries all of those emotions and all of that concern around with him every day.
"In our lives we typically endure one or two significant events at a time. We might change jobs, get married, attend a funeral, have money problems, struggle to hold our marriage together, or love a rebellious child.
"But pastor experiences each and every one of these things every day. He is concerned for the marriage in trouble. He desperately wants to relieve our financial struggles. He grieves with us over our troubled teenager. He rejoices with us when we find a new job. He experiences all of these things each day because he is so burdened for each of us. Our pain and our joys become his because he cares for us so much."
Pastor Appreciation Sermon Conclusion. Continue with something like, "Today is Pastor Appreciation Sunday.
We of course appreciate Pastor [name] for all he does for us. But Paul reminds us that what we see doesn't compare with the intense concern he has for each of us.
"Now I hope that Pastor is not at the point where he would rather be shipwrecked than be with us! But this morning on behalf of the entire congregation, I would like to say, 'Thank you, Pastor.' We genuinely appreciate everything we see you do for us. But even more, thank you for caring so much that you take our burdens as your own."
Pastor Appreciation Sermon - Final Thoughts. This pastor appreciation sermon is only a sample. Use it as it is, modify it, or wite something completely different.
Let me leave you with a couple points.
I hope this pastor appreciation sermon gives you some ideas on how you can encourage your pastor and his wife.