October is Pastors' Appreciation Month. You could've fooled me: I thought every month was Pastors' Appreciation Month. At least once every Sunday I hear, "Good sermon pastor." I'm not always convinced they heard the sermon that issued from my lips, but I'll take the attaboy. I've never doubted the people at Leesburg Grace Brethren Church appreciated me.
Yesterday, however, my church took moment to recognize me and my wife publicly for our God-honoring service, Christ-like humility, awe-inspiring creativity, and thought-provoking sermons. They didn't use these words exactly, but I interpreted. What the president of our board did do was hand us a Halmark card with a check, and say, "We're grateful for all you do."
Then he added the exclamation point. He initiated the Slow Clap.
The whole church put its hands together. Slowly. Then faster. And faster. The clap climaxed in outright applause. There is no greater way to appreciate someone than to offer the Slow Clap.
My wife and I became a huge fan of the Slow Clap a few years ago. We had grown weary of the high five, fist pump, and butt slap. Some of these gestures spread germs. At least one of these gestures is inappropriate across genders or for non-family members. (I would never high five my neighbor's wife!)
The Slow Clap, however, transcends setting (try it at concerts, graduation speeches, funerals), does not discriminate (old people and children love it), and invites participation (by definition, no one slow claps alone). We started slow clapping for our children and dinner guests at supper time. We started slow clapping for extended family for their moments of self-discovery or triumph. We started slow clapping for friends after a bit of good news.
Eventually the Slow Clap made its way into our church. We slow clapped for answered prayer. We slow clapped for youth group testimonies. We slow clapped for our beloved Diana Davis - 70-year old retired missionary to CAR - coming into our worship service fifteen minutes late. The Slow Clap started slowly at our church, but it has spread like wildfire. The spark is in any hand willing to start a celebration. In our church, there are many.
I am glad for the culture I have helped shape: a culture of celebration. It almost makes me want to...
Clap. Clap. Clap.
Clap. Clap. Clap.Clap.Clap.CLAP.CLAPPPPPPPP.