16 Pastor Appreciation Ideas

It’s hard being a pastor. Few people understand or appreciate all the demands of pastoral ministry. If you appreciate your pastor, it’s important to let them know.  

Each year the month of October is dedicated to Pastor Appreciation, specifically the second Sunday in October. While recognition from the congregation on that day can be special, there are also ways to personally show your appreciation.   

Here are 16 pastor appreciation gift and service ideas suitable for the special pastor or team of pastors that serve you and your community. 

No Cost Appreciation

  1. Appreciate the Whole Family - If your pastor has a spouse and family, make it a goal during the month to stop the spouse and/or kids at church, or send a text or email, to simply tell them that you see how they support their spouse/parent and appreciate them, too!
  2. Photo Slideshow - Ask staff and volunteers to send in photos of favorite memories with your pastor (or pastor team). You could also ask the congregation to contribute photos (just make sure to emphasize you are planning a surprise!) Ask a tech savvy staff member or volunteer to create a digital slide photo show and present it to your pastor at a church event (or share the link to watch at their convenience).
  3. Offer Your Talents - Offer to give your services or talents such as childcare, organizing or house help, yard care, car maintenance or pet-washing/pet-sitting.
  4. Notes of Lasting Impact - A heartfelt note with a specific example of a sermon, something they said (or did!), or specific character trait that has impacted you can be a treasured keepsake. They spend so much time preparing and serving, to hear some positive feedback, even if it was from something long ago, will remind them they are making a lasting impact.

Small-Medium Cost Appreciation

  1. Plan a Churchwide Meal – Host a cookout or dinner and invite the entire church. If your pastor has served for many years, take some time to have some members share stories about how the pastor has impacted their lives. It will be an event that the pastor remembers and treasures for years to come.
  2. Gift Card Palooza - Gift cards to a popular retailer in various amounts collected from the congregation can really be a blessing, especially when accompanied with personal notes of appreciation.
  3. Takeout Meal Delivery - Another gift card idea is for meal delivery services where your pastor can order online and get the food delivered.  Preview the menu to see what a meal might cost, then send a gift card so they can check cooking off their to-do list for the night.
  4. Car Detailing - If you have ever had your car detailed, it’s like having a new car! Host an “appreciation car wash” on a Saturday morning where volunteers detail the cars for the entire pastoral staff (or bring in the experts).
  1. A Few of Your Favorite Things - At the beginning of the month, email your pastor and ask for a list of things they enjoy: a favorite food, candy, snack, genre of book, local coffee shop, sports team or movie. These are things that aren’t mentioned too often in a Sunday sermon so asking ahead of time can help you gather a gift basket full of favorite things.
  2. For Your Techy Pastor - If your pastor enjoys tech, a good quality pair of wireless headphones or an indoor/outdoor Bluetooth speaker are gifts they might enjoy. Or find out their favorite website to shop for gear and grab a gift card for them to use for their next tech need.  
  3. Support a Passion - If your pastor has a hobby like hiking, crafting, home or yard projects, extra accessories for these activities are a welcome gift and send the message that you care about what interests them. 

Go Big Appreciation

  1. Fund a Get Away - Collect money to send your pastor (and spouse if applicable) to a local bed and breakfast or retreat center. If you collect enough, upgrade to a weekend getaway and pay for the food as well. Have one of your lay leaders or guest pastor (with prior approval from the pastor) fill the pulpit for that Sunday.
  2. Share a Ticket - Share a season ticket or buy a gift of tickets to a local theater show or sports game, or a concert that is coming through town or a town nearby.
  3. Gift a Subscription – If you know your pastor will appreciate fresh fruit and veggies, pay for a subscription to a local produce service where the fresh produce is dropped off at their home.
  4. Professional Photography (or Other) Services For the upcoming holidays, pay for the services of a local photographer for a personal or family photo session. If they don’t really want that, you can use the money for another service they would appreciate around the holidays, like catering for an upcoming family event.
  5. Big Ticket Item for Home or Parsonage - If you know your pastor has a specific need (such as an appliance about to give out or a grill that could use an upgrade), take a collection and present the new appliance on a special Sunday morning. If your pastor lives in a parsonage, make an upgrade to the home that would be a blessing.
And big or small - a simple envelope of collected cash with a note of appreciation is never frowned upon, especially with Christmas around the corner! No matter the size, the very best gift is one from the heart - given with generosity and sincere appreciation.  

Pastors are fueled and called by God, but the loving words and deeds of the congregation during Pastor Appreciation Month can go a long way to fill their cup as well. 

Julie David is a freelance writer, educator, and worship pastor's wife from the Midwest who likes warm hugs.