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Fresh Ideas

1000 Ways to Grow a Thriving and Energetic Church

By Diana Davis, B&H, 2007. ISBN 978-0805444926.

Fresh Ideas

Syndicated columnist and pastor's wife Diana Davis has been compiling new ways of conducting various church programs for decades—paying close attention to everything from how a church interior is best utilized to how congregations most effectively engage in community outreach. These creative methods are generously compiled in Fresh Ideas for Your Church, a handy guide to inspire "how your church does church." Featuring seventy-five unique categories and scores of ideas within each one, this resource will help everyone in the church from volunteers to the senior pastor.

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Fresh Ideas Excerpt - "Minister Appreciation Day"

“…give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord.”
I Thessalonians 5:12-13

Each October, many churches designate a day to show appreciation to their pastor and church ministerial staff member.  Need fresh ideas?

One Fishing Lure

Determine one small item your pastor enjoys, such as M&Ms, fishing lures, popcorn, coffee, or golf balls. Ask each church member, including youth and children, to bring one of that item on Pastor Appreciation Sunday. For example, each family member will bring one bag, any size, of peanut M&Ms. Bring extras for guests and forgetful members. As your church thanks God for your pastor on Sunday, each member can walk to the front and place their token of love in a large basket.

The Church Building & the Church

Present your pastor with a beautifully framed photo or painting of the church building. Use an extra wide matting and ask all church members to sign the mat before adding glass.


Distribute your minister’s e-mail address to all church or class members, asking each one to send an e-mail note, describing something specific that they appreciate about their pastor. E-mails should be sent one specific day or week, creating an e-pounding of blessings!


Use the same basic idea, but ask each member to send a text-message to the pastor or staff member.

Puzzle Gift

Order a jigsaw puzzle with a photo of your church family or church building.  Internet puzzle companies make 100 or 1000 piece puzzles from a photo.

Love Our Pastor

Take out a full-page ad in your local newspaper, featuring a photo of your pastor with each church member's signature around it.  Include a declaration of your church's love and appreciation for your pastor.

Lotsa Notes

Give each church member a stamped envelope that is pre-addressed to your minister's home. Ask them to send a very specific, personal note of appreciation this week.

Make It a Month

As a church, deacon body, ladies group, choir or youth group, make October a true month of appreciation for your pastor. Ask individual volunteers from the group to write their name on one day of an October calendar. On the assigned day, that person expresses appreciation to the pastor in a unique way. Each day will be different. The pastor might receive a letter or gift. It could be a meal, a shoeshine or a "thank you" balloon bouquet. After a whole month of pleasant surprises, won't your pastor feel appreciated? And won't God be honored by your acts of love for His servant?

While You Were Out

Hanover Baptist in Indiana surprised their pastor with a gorgeous new home office. With his wife's input, of course, they worked with a decorator and volunteers to turn a spare room into a home office while the pastor was out of town. They did paint, wallpaper, window coverings, shelves, desk, chair, computer, and decorator items.

Gift of Prayer

Give your pastor the gift of prayer. Create a chart, and allow members to choose a specific time that they will commit to pray weekly for the pastor this next year.  They do not need to come to a specific place—just pray on their way to work or pray each Tuesday at 2 PM. The project could be done by a deacon group, choir, class or the entire church. Present the prayer promise chart to the pastor as a gift. Then remember to pray!

A Class Idea

All the Sunday School classes of the church could pool their resources to purchase a full set of Bible commentaries. Every individual class could sign inside one of the books, then present it as a gift from their class.

Gift from Deacons

Each deacon purchases a gift certificate to a restaurant, carwash, coffee shop, or book store. He writes a personal note on the back, then all coupons are placed inside a card for the pastor.

Gift from Kids

Wouldn’t it be fun for every child at church to create a signed bookmark for their pastor or children's pastor, using cardstock paper, crayons or markers?  Laminate the bookmarks, and then call all the children forward at the end of worship to put their bookmarks in a basket for the pastor.

Gift from Youth

Create huge poster board hearts and a giant love note for everyone to read. Place them on stakes in your pastor's front yard during pastor appreciation day. You could add balloons, but not toilet paper.

More Ideas for a Gift from the Church

Restaurant certificates, magazine subscription, tires, Bible software, a trip, a book, theatre or sports tickets, flowers for his wife, babysitting coupons, a new car, a grandfather clock, a suit for pastor and a dress for his wife, a new car, a new desk, home landscaping.

Ideas for Individual Members to Honor the Pastor

Your church demonstrates appreciation, but how can you, as an individual church member, honor and encourage your ministers? A few fresh ideas.

Say It

Write your minister an encouraging note the first day of every month this year. Tell him how last Sunday’s sermon impacted your week. Take him to lunch and tell him how much you appreciate him as your pastor.

Stay Awake In Church

Sit near the front during worship every Sunday during Pastor Appreciation Month. Actively listen during the sermon. Make eye contact. Nod your head. Take notes. Say "amen" at an appropriate time.

May I Borrow Your Car?

As a special surprise during Minister Appreciation Week, borrow your pastor’s car and have it detailed, oiled and lubed, washed and gassed.

Brag about Him

Brag about your pastor every chance you get - and not just at church. Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper during Minister Appreciation Month to compliment your minister. Introduce him to your friends and work associates.


Show respect by calling him “pastor.”

Personalized T

During Minister Appreciation Week, present him a "Best Pastor in Madison" t-shirt, substituting your town's name.

Me First

Be the first church member to volunteer for something. Accompany your pastor on ministry visits. Show up early for church and help. Stay late and help. Faithfully and joyfully use your spiritual gifts within the church body.

Take Care

During Minister Appreciation Week, anonymously mow and edge your pastor’s lawn. Provide a generous book allowance for him in your church budget. Be sure that he's paid an appropriate salary. If he has houseguests coming again, deliver a great casserole. Exempt clergy from bringing dishes to pitch-in dinners.

Love His Family

Do something special for your pastor’s wife. Help pay for his teens to attend the church's youth retreat. Babysit his kids for free during a wedding or funeral. Include his family in your holiday celebration. Help his children apply for college scholarships. Deliver a Thanksgiving turkey to his house.

Quit Complaining.

Quit complaining. Quit complaining. Quit complaining. Quit complaining.

© Diana Davis


Fresh Ideas Endorsements

I’m forever looking for just this variety of ‘fresh ideas’ to stimulate the creative juices it takes to keep church life exciting, contemporary and appealing. Diana has bound together a wonderful assortment of delightful helps and encouragements in this one volume.
- Dr. Bobby H. Welch
Past President, Southern Baptist Convention
Author, Retired Pastor, FBC Daytona Beach, Florida

Once in a while a book comes along that is so jam packed with creative, practical ideas, you want everyone in the ministry to have it.  This is just such a book.
- David & Nancy Baldwin
Executive Director, Alaska Baptist Convention
Anchorage, Alaska

Diana Davis exudes creativity in her new book. Her joy for life and her years of experience in and around church ministry have well-equipped her with a host of wonderful insights and practical ideas invaluable to any church leader. What a treasure to now have these in one volume.  I highly recommend this book.
- Dr. Gary Cook
President, Dallas Baptist University
Dallas, Texas

You will see how “iron sharpens iron”….If you want to do ministry out of the ordinary, you will love this book.  The concept is wonderful.
- Jodi Francis (Mrs. Morris) Chapman
Wife of President / CEO Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee
Nashville, Tennessee

…a rich spiritual smorgasbord of ministry ideas that you can immediately put into practice or easily adapt…regardless of the size or style of your church or ministry.
- Dr. Scott Miller
Senior Pastor, Graceland Baptist Church
New Albany, Indiana

…a priceless book for the seasoned minister as well as the beginner. …Her ideas are impacting how our church planters are doing church even here in Kiev, Ukraine.
- Joel and Mary Ellen Ragains
IMB Missionaries
Kiev, Ukraine

…an overwhelming abundance of creativity and productivity to be applied in countless settings in the kingdom…I have been reading the author’s column in the Indiana Baptist State Paper with avid interest. Many of her columns have been clipped and filed. I welcome the opportunity to have them all bound and on my shelf for my ready reference and to share with my students!
- Dr. Dorothy Kelley Patterson
Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas

This ready resource is short and simple, organized for easy use, and filled with great and practical ideas for almost every church occasion.
- Steve Swofford
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Rockwall, Texas
President, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

…full of wit, humor, practical good hearted advice…a wonderful tool for that puts fresh air into some stuffy routines…I highly recommend Fresh Ideas.
- Dr. Thane Barnes
Executive Director, Nevada Baptist Convention
Reno, Nevada

If you’re looking for fresh ideas to jump start your ministry, you’ve got the right book!
- David Francis
Director, Sunday School
LifeWay Church Resources
Nashville TN

…a plethora of tested, invigorating ideas… has the potential to rejuvenate the ministry of your church.
- Bobbye (Mrs. Jerry) Rankin
Wife of IMB President, Former Missionary, Asia
International Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia

Diana Davis brings the experience of a pastor’s wife, a leader, women’s speaker, VBS teacher, friend, and most importantly an encourager to inspire me and others.
- Jim Bohrer
Pastor, Hope Community Church
Brownsburg, Indiana

…the most useful book on the nuts and bolts of “doing church” to come along in decades!
- Dr. Mark Edlund
Executive Director, Colorado Baptist Convention
Denver, Colorado

…a must-have book for every pastor and his wife. I plan to buy it by the case to give to pastors and association leaders.
- Dr. Craig Culbreth
Director of Partnership Missions, Florida Baptist Convention
Jacksonville, Florida

Her monthly article has encouraged church leaders across our state and now is going to make an even greater impact on the entire Christian community.
- Dr. Mark Hearn
Senior Pastor, Northside Baptist Church, Indianapolis
President, State Convention of Baptist in Indiana

…a book every pastor will want to have in his library and share with key church leaders.
- Dr. David Waltz
Executive Director, Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania-South Jersey
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

…a great resource for every Christian leader…Packed with useful ideas for all aspects of church life, this book will help you think creatively about your church’s ministry.
-Ann (Mrs. Jeff) Iorg
President’s Wife, Golden Gate Theological Seminary
Mill Valley, California

Pastors and church leaders continually need inspirational nuggets to help stay current. Diana’s insight reminds us that “little things can make a big difference.”
- Dr. Charles L. Wilson
Senior Pastor, Sunnyvale First Baptist Church
Sunnyvale, Texas

I only wish Ken and I had this book when we started serving churches 38 years ago!
- Paula (Mrs. Ken) Hemphill
Women’s Mobilization Consultant, International Mission Board, SBC
Travelers Rest, South Carolina

Diana Davis’ “Fresh Ideas” columns have frequently enlivened the pages of the Florida Baptist Witness with pithy, practical and sometimes provocative thoughts that are helpful to churches, pastors and all followers of Christ.
- James A. Smith Sr.
Executive Editor, Florida Baptist Witness
Jacksonville, Florida

This book will have significant influence in helping creative thinkers think beyond the ordinary when planning the work of ministry.
- Dr. Veryl Henderson
Executive Director, Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention
Honolulu, Hawaii

…innovative, imaginative, and inventive…
- Clark Harless
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
Knox, Indiana

Rarely does one find purposeful answers and insights with such ease.
- Tim Clark
Executive Director, Utah-Idaho Baptist Convention
Draper, Utah

If you have been doing “business as usual” in your church planning and you need a new spark, then this book is for you. We highly recommend it.
- Jeanette and Dr. Carlisle Driggers
Executive Director, South Carolina Baptist Convention
Columbia, South Carolina

…a “stoking the fires of evangelism” book…cutting edge but practical ideas…
- Sandra K. (Mrs. Anthony) Payton
Pastor’s Wife/Heart2Heart/Sisters Who Care Facilitator
Come As You Are Community Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana

…more than a collection of creative thoughts!  Diana Davis has taken relevancy to the next level. Every pastor should read this book and make it available to church leaders!
- Dr. Jim Hamilton
Executive Director-Treasurer, Dakota Baptist Convention
Bismarck, North Dakota

…a must-have…buy it, use it, and give a copy to a friend.
- Connie Cavanaugh
Speaker, columnist and author of From Faking it to Finding Grace
Calgary, Canada

…new and fresh ways to share the wonder of God’s love.
- Dr. Jimmy and Joan Barrentine
Executive Director, Iowa Baptist Convention
Des Moines, Iowa

Diana Davis compiles ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ ideas that can add new vitality to your church and ministry.
- Sherry Lee
Consultant/Specialist for Minister Wives and Families
Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware
Columbia, Maryland

Fresh Ideas should be on the shelf of every church staff member and church leader.
- Marty King
Associate Executive Director, Illinois Baptist State Convention
Editor, Illinois Baptist, Springfield, Illinois

…this book will awaken your creative heart and mind…
- Sid Woodruff
Men’s and Deacon Ministry Specialist, LifeWay Christian Resources
Nashville, Tennessee