October has traditionally been designated as Pastor Appreciation Month — an opportunity for congregations to express, in various ways, their thankfulness to the shepherds who care for them.
Starting this year, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) will be encouraging congregations and school communities to use the month of October to demonstrate appreciation not only for their pastors, but for all workers in the parish and school — pastors, commissioned ministers, business managers, administrative assistants, teacher aides, custodians, cafeteria workers and everyone in between.
“These church workers are vital in our Christian faith and life, each according to their vocation,” said the Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck, executive director of the LCMS Office of Pastoral Education. “The pastor teaches us the Word of God for our eternal salvation. Teachers and commissioned workers assist him in specialized ways in the classroom, through youth ministry, music ministry and more. And all servants in the church are worthy of our deep appreciation and encouragement for serving us, the baptized children of God, and for their love for Christ’s church.”
As the LCMS observes Church Worker Appreciation Month in 2021, it also begins the rollout of the Church Worker Recruitment Initiative, which was approved by the 2019 Synod convention. That initiative now has a name: Set Apart to Serve.
Set Apart to Serve is a long-term commitment to church work formation and recruitment aimed at encouraging young people to consider church work as a life vocation of serving God and neighbor.
Those who are the primary influencers of youth — pastors, other church workers, parents and congregations — will be equipped with resources for engaging boys and girls in conversations about the opportunities that exist for serving in the church.
Those opportunities include the pastoral office as well as commissioned roles such as Lutheran school teachers, deaconesses and directors of various ministries, including parish music, Christian education, family life and outreach. The conversations that grow out of Set Apart to Serve aim to show potential church workers how they can serve both their Lord and the church by pursuing church work as a formal, professional and lifelong calling.
To better reach young people — and those who care for and influence them — during their most formative years, three subject-matter expert groups are currently writing materials about how to communicate with and inspire specific age groups, along with the church workers, families and congregations that influence them. The writing team consists of 20 church workers, each of whom has expertise in one of three age groups: infant Baptism through 6th grade, 7th and 8th grade, and 9th through 12th grade. Those resources will be made available on the soon-to-come Set Apart to Serve website.
For now, in addition to continuing to encourage the young people you know to consider church work, you can thank those in your midst — pastors as well as commissioned and non-commissioned workers — who are already serving. Click here for ideas and resources to assist in doing so.
Posted Oct. 1, 2021