Christmas Gift for Your Pastor

Some of the ways Churches (and Christians) give a Christmas gift to the pastor.

keith drury


Dan said...

When I was a pastor I didn't mind paying taxes on "employer gifts" because of the sentiment behind them. As you said, though, the notes from individuals were the most appreciated gifts of all.

Now as a layman my family usually sends a Christmas card expressing our thanks to our pastor and also stuffs some cash in an envelope which we ask a board member to give to the pastor anonymously. This system lets us give praise and money without strings attached.

We also like to put checks into Christmas cards we send to retired pastors that are "living on faith." It's fun!

Chap said...

Speaking entirely as an admitted Christmas crumudgen-- the parsing of what gifts should be given and how they should be given confirms my distaste entirely for gifts and Christmas.

I prefer no gifts at Christmas from anyone in my congregation. A note of appreciation would go a lot further.

wow, I'm feeling particularly bah--humbuggy today.

Merry Christmas

Heath said...

My only fear with Christmas bonuses is when pastor's know/expect what they're going to receive because it's listed in the church budget. Imagine if one Christmas the church had to cut the bonuses because of tight times. I would hate to see a Christmas Vacation scenario played out with the vice-chairman of the LBA kidnapped and wrapped in a big red bow!

Mark Schnell said...

I finally figured out how this stuff works after getting my feelings hurt a few times when I was in my twenties. Unless a church has a set policy on pastoral gifts it is usually up to one person to make sure the gift giving thing gets done. Some churches have a person that is very good and consistent at this. But if this is handled by various people over the years your gift could vary greatly. So if a pastor doesn't get much of a gift it doesn't mean they aren't appreciated. It probably just means that someone dropped the ball. Most likely, if someone leads the way people will be gracious. This goes for pastor appreciation stuff too. BTW, as far as I'm concerned the pastor appreciation thing coming in October, so close to Christmas, always embarrassed me. It seems like people have pressure put on them in a short period of time to give extra to the pastor. I think a church should do one of the other. Or maybe put pastoral appreciation in June, halfway through the year from Christmas. ;-)

Ken said...

i agree with mark... the whole "pastor appreciation" thing feels a bit canned and cheesy already, and then people feel pressured around Christmas...

i worked at a large church with multiple staff, where the senior got some big-time gifts and the staff, well... but then i also worked at another large church where the senior pastor shared the bounty... very nice.

however, i don't think people should ever feel obligated to give, and i don't think pastors should expect it. it's a wonderfully kind thing if it happens, but it's got to be sincere, not out of obligation.

(as a sidenote... your comment about support staff being overlooked reminds me of how headquarters sends books and other ministry tools out to senior pastors but rarely to support staff. as a former senior pastor, it's strange to suddenly be 'left out in the cold' with the denominational resource offerings...)

Keith Drury said...

DAN. An outstanding idea for us active ministers to send a gift to retired ministers.

CHAP: Certainly notes are the best gift of all, though as a preacher’s kid actual gifts always impressed me at how kind people in the church were—notes would have had a lesser affect on a PK ;-)

HEATH: I hear ya—this is one disadvantage of institutional gifts isn’t it—expecting the gift. A gift is not an entitlement.

MARK: Yeah I always felt appreciation Sunday was too close to Christmas too. I believe it is in October because of the rural tradition of a fall “harvest gift” to pastors enabling people to “tithe” their bounty not just their cash income—for many years rural pastors needed such as part of their salary. This later became “pounding” for pastors with people bringing bags of groceries. (I remember in my first church getting so “pounded” in October that we did not have to go grocery shopping again until February.)

KEN, yeah, welcome to my world... we ministers who teach future ministers don't get most mailings from headquarters either. One outstanding exception was Marlin Null, who always included ministers who were faculty. I do get the e-mailings however, so that helps us stay in the loop.

Grateful said...

(A little lengthy, but on my heart to share) Our church does give Christmas bonuses to everyone on staff as a 53rd week of pay for the year... so I am grateful as a pastor and my family is touched... also, gifts come in for me and my staff of 11 other pastors during Pastor Appreciation and Christmas, so we're speechless, too... no pressure, just pleasure it seems for the givers... but this year the greatest gift happened last Sunday when we received what I called "The Drummer Boy Christmas Fund", named that for obvious and less obvious reasons. Less obvious? Yes, I sensed the Lord inviting me to sell my "luxury" Pearl drum set and use it as seed money for "The Drummer Boy Christmas Fund", a fund to share monetary gifts at Christmastime 2008 with hard-pressed families within our church family who are having trouble with basic living expenses this year, never mind luxuries. My drum set sold to someone in the local town for $700 and the total offering this past Sunday was over $15,000. I just signed some 50+ gift-filled letters to struggling families within our familiy of faith and some outside our family as well. It's the greatest appreciation our congregation could give their pastor -- to be generous towards one another during these obvious uncertain economical times. Thanks to God who allowed the tough economy this year so we would finally be wide awake like never before towards one another during the Advent season. I sense our always generous body of believers is the very closest we've ever been to the Acts 2:45 model (Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.) Our church has always been careful to take care of those beyond our walls, this year we have continued to focus on those beyond us, however, we didn't overlook those among us either. As a result, I am humbled, grateful, and finally, speechless... (They will know we are HIS disciples by the way we love "one another'!) ALL JOY! P.S. I know Keith, I should start my own blog instead of taking up so much room on yours :-).

Duke said...

Ditto with Mark Schnell about pastor appreciation and Christmas.

One gift really appreciated is cash - always will be. I've always found God's people to be generous and caring for their pastors.

I have to work to appreciate a gift that goes on the coffee table, a wall hanger, a compilation book or trinket from a Christian book store.

I rejoice over the gift of a card/letter sharing God's good work in their life and a monetary donation to others, such as World Hope, a food pantry, a crisis pregnancy center . . . .
The story from Grateful - that's priceless.

David Drury said...

I'm in a weird "in between" spot with this topic... I'm a pastor who used to be a senior pastor/church planter but now i'm a staff pastor. But I'm also the chair of our personnel committee and facilitate our LBA meetings where the annual topic of "how to do staff christmas gifts" comes up.

I see so many angles on this one and I haven't made up my mind yet at all... but this is very helpful to me as our Personnel Committee will be reviewing our practice in Janaury to set a more "future lookin" process in place. I may print off this article and the comments for that committee.

(FYI, our church, with an attendance of 1700ish and 8 full time staff has in the past done #1, with a budget and also giving towards it. However, that budget got removed for last year's funds, but we still got in about the same amount.... so "what came in is what went out")

David Drury said...

One more thing I should mention... in many churches "communication about giving staff gifts" is a tension with "year end giving" and capital campaigns. Every year this is a tension for us, as the pastoral staff "control" the communication on stage pretty much... but the lay leaders (LBA, etc) want to (very appropriately) leverage the up front communication for that purpose.

My opinion: I'd rather ask the congregation for $500,000 to build a building or pay off debt than I would use the same amout of time to ask for $5,000 to spread out amongst the staff as a christmas gift.

So, I've been pretty much the "scrooge" around here on making announcements about giving money to the staff. My rationale: would you rather get a bigger Christmas gift--or would you rather we lay off several part time staff in 3 years because we didn't manage our capital campaign correctly?

Yep, I'm a scrooge for sure.


Pete Vecchi said...

Our church's finances are a bit tight right now. So, I asked the church board to do the following for me for Christmas: Instead of the congregation giving me a financial gift as it has in the past (which I'd have to pay taxes on and on which the congregation's budgets--Church of the Nazarene--for the following year would go up by a percentage of the gift), I asked that the congregation extend my final week of vacation for the year that began on December 15th to let me not have to return to work until December 26th. That way, since our small congregation wouldn't have been doing anything special for Christmas Eve or Christmas anyway, I was able to have some extra time off during the holidays.

Keith Drury said...

GREAT idea Pete!

that's a win-win for both the church and the pastor!