Pastors often feel like they’re swimming upstream. Even when things are going well, there are at least one or two church relationships that the pastor is running interference on. It can be tiring, and the lack of positive affirmation can really wear one down. Trust us, there are a number of things keeping your pastor up at night.
When you’re thinking about ways to appreciate your pastor, remember that not everyone is the same. As important as it is for you to come up with a creative way to say express thanks, you need to find ways that your pastor would find most meaningful. Where a gift card might be meaningful to one person, quality time might mean more to someone else.
We’ve come up with ideas that would be meaningful to various personality types. If you have great ideas we missed, feel free to leave a comment!
Without further ado, here are 20 ideas for showing your appreciation to your pastor:
1. Babysit the pastor’s kids
Pastors are spread thin. Offering to watch the pastor’s kids is a wonderful way to help them spend some quality time with their spouse.
2. Help with seasonal home and yard work
There are a lot of different ways you can help the pastor at home. In the spring and summer, this can include mowing the lawn. In the fall, it could be helping to winterize the house and clean the gutters. Make a list of the various seasonal things that need to be done and schedule people to help.
3. Wash their vehicles
Why not set up a car wash at the church for the pastoral staff? This can be a fun way to get the youth involved in appreciating your pastor, too.
BONUS: Do a car wash fundraiser for the youth group, but tell church staff members that their wash is on the house.
4. Give your pastor a shout out on social media
Hear a particularly rousing sermon? Post your thoughts about how it affected you on Facebook and tag your pastor in it. Better yet, share the sermon, too. Your clergy would love to know that you’re still thinking about what you heard.
This may sound simple, but a small act of appreciation can mean the world to your pastor. On the flip side, lack of appreciation, even in these small ways, can lead your pastor to feel drained and burned out instead of energized for continued months and years of serving your church. And this doesn’t just affect the person, but the church on a whole. Discover how a lack of investment in your pastor can kill church growth and the top four other ways churches unknowingly encourage congregational decline. Download 5 Bad Habits That Kill Church Growth (And How To Break Them) for free today.
5. Get a t-shirt with their favorite theologian on it
No matter what theologian your pastor draws inspiration from, there’s likely a shirt (or cup) that features them. If there isn’t, they’re not too difficult to have made…and your pastor might love it.
6. Send a thank-you email
See something that the pastor handled particularly well? Loved the sermon on Sunday? Excited about the direction of the church? Send your pastor an email and tell them so!
7. Invest in some Bible software for them
If your pastor isn’t using Bible software for sermon prep, it can definitely save valuable time. There are a few good options available—but they can be a bit expensive, so this might be something to get the entire congregation in on.
Your pastor might already have a good Bible software program. If so, you can always invest in some new commentaries to use in the program.
8. Book store gift card
Pastors are always on the hunt for more books. Gift cards are nice because they help curtail any miscommunication. If you get a book, it’s easy to misconstrue the message: “Did they just get me a copy of Becoming a Better Pastor because they think I’m doing a terrible job?”
9. Purchase a good coffee or tea maker
What office is complete without a good coffee maker? There are a lot of options available:
- Standard coffee pot
- Pour-over coffee brewer
- French press
- Espresso maker
If they’re not a coffee drinker, there are a number of fun products for brewing tea as well!
10. Take your pastor to a movie
Guess what? Your minister is a normal person who enjoys the normal things that everyday people enjoy. Why don’t a few of you take your pastor out for dinner and a show? They’d love the camaraderie!
11. Swing by work unannounced and go for a walk
This one is the perfect example of a suggestion that is entirely dependant on your pastor’s personality. If your pastor is a little more extroverted, they’ll love to be rescued from some time in the office for a quick walk around a park or a trip to Starbucks. Just be warned: If they swing a little more toward introversion, they’ll probably see this as a huge interruption. (You may want to shoot them a text first.)
12. Give them a sabbatical
Pastors need time to recharge and refocus. I’m not talking about a vacation here, but some paid time off to visit other ministries, pray, and set some future goals. It could be one day a week for a month or an entire week focused on hearing from the Lord.
13. Laugh at your pastor’s jokes
If your pastor includes corny jokes in the sermon, it’s okay to laugh—even if the joke is really, really dumb. And, believe it or not, this will make them feel appreciated.
14. Come to your pastor’s defense
People often send out feelers to see who they can or can’t trash talk the pastor with. Make sure that you communicate clearly that you’re not going to participate in a bunch of negative talk about your pastoral staff. Even though your pastor won’t necessarily be privy to your coming to their defense, it helps create a culture of appreciation.
15. Take notes during the sermons
If you want your pastor to feel appreciated, let them see you paying attention during the sermon. Nothing will make them feel more valued than knowing you’re interested in the work they’re committed to.
BONUS: Live-tweet the sermon and tag your pastor when you quote them.
16. Volunteer to help
The church is always looking for help in various ministries or setting up and cleaning up various one-off gatherings. Volunteering before you’re asked is a good way to communicate that you’re behind the pastor and their vision.
17. Pay attention to special days
Keep track of special days in the pastor’s life. These include things like the pastor’s birthday, wedding anniversary, and their anniversary with the church. But it should also include the special days in the life of the family. Sending a card or small gift on a spouse’s or child’s birthday is a great way to help make your pastor feel appreciated.
18. Say something encouraging
Here’s a good pastor-appreciation exercise: Think of something critical about your pastor. Got something in mind? Okay. Now keep it to yourself and say something encouraging instead. It’s easy to come up with little frustrations, but training yourself to find things to celebrate is worth the effort.
And every time you find something worth celebrating, let them know.
19. Get tickets to a sporting event
Does your pastor enjoy high school, college, or professional sports? Why not get some tickets to a game?
20. Invite your pastor to dinner
Opening our homes to each other is getting rare. Why not use your pastor as a guinea pig for practicing hospitality? Invite your pastor and their spouse into your home and get to know them better!
What Did We Miss?
These are just 20 appreciation ideas, but we’re sure there are thousands more. Do you have interesting ideas for appreciating your pastor that have worked? Leave us a comment—we may include them in a future pastor appreciation piece!