Give Your Pastor a Gift They'll Actually Appreciate
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Having lived the pastor’s life for some time, I have received some wonderful thanks and appreciation for my ministry service over the years. Our pastors need to feel supported and appreciated by all of us. Here are three ways you and your church can show appreciation to your pastor this month.
1. The Gift of Time
How many extra hours does your pastor put in to help shepherd, encourage, and disciple others? Between all the ministry meetings, sermon preparation, ministry calls, and counseling, your pastor probably does way more than you realize.
According to multiple surveys, the average number of hours a pastor works each week is around 50, with a large percentage working even more than that. One way to appreciate your pastor? Give them the gift of time.
Gift a Vacation
Why not provide your pastor with an extra week of vacation? This doesn’t really cost the church financially. However, that extra rest will reap more benefits in the long run. I even know of some churches that have gone the extra step and paid for the entire vacation to bless their pastor.
Gift a Sabbatical
Most pastors love to study God’s Word, as well as other topics related to Christian leadership and growth. Another way to bless your pastor with the gift of time is providing specific time for exclusive deep study. Not only will your pastor develop personal knowledge, but the church will be blessed with the result, either in leadership development or perhaps even a powerful new sermon series.
2. Support Their Talents
Does you pastor have numerous bookshelves in their office or home? As mentioned above, your pastor probably enjoys personal study and development. You can support your pastor’s passion for learning.
Gift A Book Budget
Does your church or ministry provide a book budget for your pastor? When the church I served at had a book budget, I really enjoyed knowing that my church supported me in helping me develop my skills and interests for ministry. It gave me reassurance and peace of mind that my church supported my leadership and continued learning.
CHURCH ACCOUNTING NOTE: For church bookkeeping purposes, this is considered an accountable reimbursement expense or ministry expense, so long as the funds are being used for the personal development of the pastor. This is a way many churches are able to compensate their pastor in a non-taxable way. The items purchased belong to the pastor, but are paid for out of the general budget of the church.
Gift An Amazon Gift Card
This was one of the best gifts I received as a pastor. Amazon gift cards allowed me to purchase books, things I needed for home or office, or to just splurge on something for myself or my family. Once I was even specifically told NOT to use the card for ministry-related purchases. Instead, it was ‘recommended strongly’ to use the card as fun money. That was a gift I have never forgotten.
CHURCH ACCOUNTING NOTE: There are some income tax concerns related to anything that can be considered comparable to cash. Any amount over $50 will need to be claimed as earned income, since the pastor is more than likely an employee of the church (yes, even though he gets a housing allowance and pays into SECA).
We are a church bookkeeping company, after all, and our goal is to keep pastors and their churches out of trouble with the IRS. 😊
Be aware, as you look to provide any gifts of monetary/cash value, and consider seeking counsel to ensure the pastor, and the church, report all items appropriately. If this sounds complicated or overwhelming, don’t worry. We help churches manage these exact situations through our Simplify Church Bookkeeping Service.
Is your pastor married? Putting long hours and work into ministry often takes a toll on a pastor’s home life. Please do not assume your pastor is an expert in this area. I guarantee you they struggle, just like so many others, to balance work and home. What can you do to help support them in this area?
Gift A Weekend Away
Like the vacation discussed above, consider providing your pastor and their spouse a date weekend. A retreat for just the two of them allows your pastor to focus exclusively on their spouse. Imagine the deeper connection that you helped provide for them. If covering the costs of a weekend getaway are outside of your budget, consider offering to provide childcare, if they have children. Time to focus on their relationship as a couple is vital to their success in ministry and in their ability to pour out to the congregation.
Gift A Marriage Retreat
Provide a paid weekend for a marriage intensive for your pastor and their spouse. This is a more purposed gift than the weekend away in focusing on developing their marriage, and dealing with the conflicts that inevitably arise in any relationship.
How Will You Celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month?
Feel free to consolidate resources with your Sunday School class, community group, life group, or family to support your pastor this month, or even additionally at a different time of year. We all need encouragement and appreciation to help fuel our tanks. As our pastors have poured into us, let’s work together to pour into them.