Being a pastor is a big job. While celebrity pastors can make it seem like it’s an easy gig–all kissing babies and wearing cool sneakers and signing copies of their latest books–the reality for most pastors is far different. These 25 church pastor appreciation ideas can help you think of ways to celebrate and thank your pastor for their faithful service.
When is Pastor Appreciation Month?
Pastor Appreciation month is a time generally set aside for church members to honor the hard work of their pastor. It runs through the entire month of October, but the second Sunday of October is Pastor Appreciation Day, specifically. Some church’s set aside time in their service to pause and acknowledge this “holiday”, but even if your church doesn’t have any special celebrations or “do anything’ for Pastor’s Appreciation Month–your pastor, church staff, and even unpaid church leadership at all levels– appreciate being appreciated.
I did not understand how hard it was to be in ministry from the squeaky pew where I used to sit as a child and stare up at my pastor’s wife and her perfectly teased updo. She made it look easy. I honestly rarely thought of the burdens my pastor and his family carried. I was unaware of the spiritual warfare ministry families faced until I became one of those family members myself.
Honestly, I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t KNOW it. It’s a unique”you have to experience it to know it” kind of profession.
Of course, there are blessings too! We get a front row seat to watch God work in individual lives and in our communities. We are welcomed into tender moments and milestones. We support and comfort and relay the comfort of Christ to others.
Many of us have congregations that love us well and would love to know how to support us more fully. This list is from first hand experience of things that have blessed us in the past and things that other pastors and their wives have shared with me too! Some of them are things pastors wish you’d know, but don’t want to tell you!
October is Pastor’s Appreciation Month. I hope you take a moment to love on your pastor, church staff and their families this month! Faithful men and women who serve God’s people well are worthy of your respect and extra appreciation. Paul puts it this way in his letter to a young pastor, Timothy.
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”-1 Timothy 5:17
What your Pastor doesn’t want
- A plaque or wall hanging or print from Hobby Lobby with a Bible verse on it.
- A book about being a good pastor or a gift book for pastors. Seriously, he won’t read it. *exceptions are if you know for sure he loves an author and wants to get a copy of his or her latest books on leadership or ministry.*
- A gift card for YOUR favorite restaurant or past time or clothing brand. Be sure you’re gifting your pastor what they would enjoy, not what you think is “the best”.
- A puppy, a fish tank, or anything they have to keep up with or expend energy for that they didn’t explicitly request.
25 Great Ideas for your Church Pastor during Pastor Appreciation Month
Remember, your pastor is a unique individual. Tailor your gift to their unique personality, situation and love language. When in doubt, ASK what would bless them, don’t ASSUME.
1. Card of Encouragement
“Thanks so much for all you do around our church. We see you and are so grateful for you!”
This simple hand-written note inside a greeting card brought tears to my eyes in a season of wondering where I “fit in” at our church. Encouragement in a written card can be reflected back on over time in a way a passing greeting can’t be. Plus, getting snail mail is such a delightful thing in this digital age!
Your words of thankfulness and affirmation support your pastor in a big way. Most pastors know their work and service matters, but hearing how they’ve helped or encouraged your spiritual growth personally is one of the greatest gifts they can receive.
One church we’ve been a part of puts boxes with a slot in them out in the lobby for members of the congregation to put notes of encouragement into throughout the month of October.
2. Gift Certificates
While monetary gifts may or may not feel appropriate, gift certificates are an easy way to express appreciation and they are plentiful! Here are some gift certificate ideas that you maybe haven’t thought of yet.
- Booklet of car washes
- Local golf course
- Spa for a massage
- Instrument or music store
- Pottery class
- Activity they can do with their child, like paintball or pottery painting or bowling.
- Any kind of self care activity they’d enjoy.
3. Restaurant Gift Cards
A gift card to your pastor’s favorite restaurant is a great way to bless him! Pastor’s often meet with people over lunch or coffee and many times this comes out of their personal budget, not as a church expense. You can always check with their spouse, a close friend or other church staff member to find out what restaurants or coffee shops he or she frequents.
4. Gift Basket
A gift basket filled with your pastor’s favorite snacks, candy, a book by a leader he loves, his favorite drink (whether that’s Mountain Dew or coffee beans), a hat or t-shirt or small memento from his favorite sports team or representing a hobby he loves! Be creative, but also personal! You can always check with your pastor’s spouse for ideas or preferences if you’re unsure what they love.
5. Movie Tickets
Movies are one way pastor’s can unwind and relax by immersing themselves in a completely new and entertaining storyline. You may even inspire a new sermon illustration with this gift!
6. Amazon Gift Card
Amazon gift cards are incredibly practical as they can be used for almost anything! Books, journals, study materials, light bulbs, new polos to rock on Sunday–the sky’s the limit. A flexible gift card like this is awesome if you’re unsure what would bless your pastor.
An offer to babysit so your pastor and their spouse can have a date night is honestly probably one of my favorite gifts! If you don’t know them well, feel free to offer to reimburse them or give them cash specifically for babysitting along with your favorite babysitter’s name and number!
8. Weekend Getaway
This may be something a small group or the whole church takes a love offering to contribute toward, but a weekend getaway sponsored by the church is an incredible gift to your pastor and investment in their long-term healthiness.
Someone in your church may have condo points or access to a cabin that can serve as a gift to your pastor. You can also buy a gift card for a major hotel chain or a gift certificate to an Airbnb or a local Bed and Breakfast for a couples getaway. Christian camps often have Pastor’s retreats and family camps that will bless everyone in the family!
9. Yard Work
Offering to help with your pastor’s leaf-raking or snow shoveling or general yard work is very thoughtful! Using a small group or even members of youth group to help with this is a great idea–many hands make light work!
10. Offer to Help with a House Project
Your pastor’s house may need a little TLC or your pastor may have a project they’ve been meaning to get to, but keep putting off. Pastor’s appreciation month is a great time to reach out and offer to help with your power tools and handyman know-how!
11. Flowers or a Plant
Flowers are a great way to show your appreciation for your pastor! (And if they’re a guy they can always take them home to share their beauty with their wives!) A nice plant for their office is another way to show a small token of appreciation and gratitude.
12. Shout them out publicly in a local newspaper or Facebook post
Pastors are often criticized and criticized publicly so kind words of affirmation in a public forum are a great blessing!
13. Home Cooked Meal
Offer to make your pastor a weeknight meal or a freezer meal. This is especially kind during busy season like Christmas and Easter when pastors and their families are on-the-go and putting in lots of hours preparing for a special event.
14. Drop a treat by the office
Your church office would love your homemade baked goods or snacks alongside your kind words of thanks.
This is a great way to be sure to love on everyone on the church staff–including church secretaries, youth workers, tech team and others who don’t have the up-front title of Pastor, but lead and shepherd in different ways!
15. Bible study software
A Bible study software program like Logos could be on your pastor’s wishlist, but out of his or your church’s direct budget. You could also provide a gift card or gift of a Bible study resource you’ve heard them mention wanting or a new resource by a favorite theologian or ministry leader.
(I’d advise going the gift card route if you’re unsure what they need or would want. Many pastors have large libraries and a plethora of study Bibles, so I wouldn’t ASSUME they’ll use and love what you give them–I’d check first and let them be “unsurprised”.)
16. Commemorative gift idea
Sometimes one of the hardest parts of being a pastor is wondering if your work makes a difference. It’s hard to see growth or sometimes you only hear about the bad stuff going on in people’s lives.
Use a twist on a guest book to help your pastor visualize the impact of his ministry with this beautiful tree where your church congregation can write their names as someone who influenced by your pastor’s ministry.
17. Take them to a sporting event
My husband would never turn down tickets for any kind of sporting event! He loves connecting with member of our church over shared loves of sports and, especially for guys, this is a great way to connect and deepen your relationship with your pastor.
18. Tickets for a musical event or conference
“Hey! I saw Maverick City is near us in November and I’d love to buy you tickets! Is that something you and Heather would be interested in?!”
Or “I saw a Facebook ad for a pastor’s conference or men’s retreat within driving distance and I’d love to sponsor your ticket if that’s something you feel like would be beneficial for you and you’d like to attend.”
Not every church has the budget for additional learning opportunities or chance for your pastor to be poured into spiritually. While you can’t ease every burden for them, creating opportunities for them to simply receive spiritually and emotionally rather than give– are kind and needed gifts.
19. Time Off
If your church is in a financially low season, but still want to bless your pastor gifting him or her an extra paid day off is an amazing gift!
Tell them to put their phone away and turn on the out of office replies on emails. Ask them if there is anything they normally do on that day that you can help with (straighten up chairs, print music, stock waters in church fridge, fold bulletins, prep powerpoint) so their day off doesn’t mean more work tomorrow.
20. Acts of Service
Serving faithfully in your church is a huge blessing to your pastor! Offer to clean the bathrooms once a month or stay after service and lock up. Offer to clean carpets in classrooms or sanitize toys weekly. Offer to pick up all the snacks for children’s ministry from Sam’s Club.
These smaller things quickly add up on your pastor’s plate and it’s a huge relief to hand them off to a faithful volunteer.
21. A Gift FOR their ministry
Ask your pastor, if you had $___(insert your budget amount)__ to spend on your ministry area what would you buy?
Listen to them dream and cast vision and then go get the tools to help them make it happen!
22. A Gift from your business
Are you an accountant? You could offer to do their taxes come tax season. A photographer? Gifting a family session is an incredible gift. Own a farm and want to be generous with sweet corn or ground beef? (We’ve been blessed by both!) A one-time gift from your skillset or business may be a great gift idea.
I know I said no Bible verse artwork–but that doesn’t mean no artwork at all. If you know of an artwork piece that is done by a local artist or is a style your pastor enjoys a piece of artwork for their office could be a beautiful gift.
24. Assume the Best
Pastor’s are human. They may get confused or tired, may forget to get back to you, and most likely will not live up to all of your expectations all of the time. Pastors have a lot of competing needs on their to-do list and some things that take the most time and mental capacity they aren’t free to disclose to you.
Give them the benefit of the doubt and extra grace!
The spiritual warfare for pastor’s families is real and your prayers are the best gifts you can give your pastor. Please pray faithfully for your pastor, your pastor’s spouse, and your pastor’s kids.
If you have a hard time remembering your pastor in prayer use a prayer prompt like praying for your pastor every time you drive past a church. Ask him or her what you can specifically pray for if you are close, but any prayer makes such a difference!
Group Gifts Can Expand Your Impact
Remember you don’t have to do any of these items on your own if that’s outside of your budget and ability. Talk to your small group or elder team about pooling resources to create group gifts and projects that members of your church can get behind together! This may take some extra coordination behind the scenes, but it will pay off with a gift with more impact.
Don’t forget the whole staff team
Don’t limit your appreciation to just your senior pastor either — your worship director and youth pastor are working just as hard and often get overlooked. Don’t book your senior pastor a cruise for the Bahamas and give the youth pastor a $20 gift card to Dave and Busters–that will only create tension among your church staff.
It is okay to create levels of gifting based on your closeness, their time with your church, or their level of responsibility–but be sure to include everyone in a way that shows appropriate value comparatively.
Being a pastor is a unique position and privilege that is full of joy and fulfillment, but it is not without its specific burdens and painful moments. Take a moment this October and pray for, love on and BLESS your pastor!