Thinking about getting a gift for your pastor?
As many of you know, I have a heart for pastors. And throughout 2020, I had numerous conversations with pastors from around the United States. I would regularly ask, “How are you doing?” The typical response? “I’m struggling.”
It’s been a tough year for pastors.
A pandemic-marked and politically-charged year has led many pastors to feel like they could do nothing right. Decisions were often met with swift criticisms from those within their own congregation. There was regularly a side who passionately disagreed and were not hesitant to share their opinion. And pastors are getting weary from the consistent hits.
And even with the close of 2020, stress remains. My friend, Ronne Parrott recently tweeted:
“Pray for pastors as they continue to lead through COVID. Many were feeling the momentum of gathering again, the easing of restrictions, & the hope of an end. Now cases are rising & the potential for more restrictions will come. They need your encouragement.”
Christmas can be a time when we encourage our pastors. It can be a time when we can live generously and support our ministers.
I reached out to several pastors and simply asked, “What would you want a church member or your congregation to get you for Christmas?” I told them the purpose of the question and that their response would remain anonymous.
I compiled and categorized their responses to help you think through what a pastor might like. Here are ten gift ideas for your pastor this Christmas:
1. Amazon gift card. “I know I’m not the only pastor who has an ever-growing list of books to read,” noted a pastor. And he was right. A gift card from Amazon was one of the most frequent responses. To make a gift card feel more personal, be sure to include a handwritten note.
2. Restaurant gift card. A gift card to a restaurant was another frequently requested item. One pastor commented, “Ideally to non-chains,” as this would allow them go somewhere they typically don’t visit.
3. Free babysitting. “If I’m not having to worry about COVID, the answer would be free babysitting.” As you will see in some upcoming suggestions, time is desired gift by many pastors. Babysitting allows pastors to go out on a date with their spouse, something that they don’t feel like they can regularly do. Of course, if you offer this gift, they should already know you really well. Free babysitting from a stranger is not much of a gift.
4. Date night care package. “Gift card to a favorite restaurant for date night. Maybe, also provide a babysitting option if relevant,” wrote a pastor. This gift idea combined a few of the above suggestions. With a date night care package, they are not only given time with their spouse, the cost of the date is covered as well.
5. Gifts for their wife and children. Some pastors prefer that gifts be directed toward their spouse and children. One pastor wrote, “A Walmart or Target gift card with a note telling them to take their kids toy shopping. I know that’s more for the kids but seeing the joy and excitement on my kids’ faces would be a gift in itself.”
6. Office items. A few pastors requested items for their office. One pastor desired a digital highlighter. He commented, “I know I’d love to get that.” Before you buy an office item, check with someone who works with the pastor to ensure that they either don’t have the considered items or don't need them.
7. Weekend getaway. As mentioned earlier, the gift of time is desired by many pastors. Some pastors expressed a dream gift of a weekend getaway, maybe by providing hotel gift cards or access to a vacation home. One pastor commented, “I’m always a big believer that helping a pastor get rest or destress is among the best things a church can do for them.”
8. Time saving gifts. There are other ways to free up time for a pastor, not just date nights or weekend getaways. Some other less common responses included getting their car detailed and lawn care. So, feel free to get creative with other time-saving gifts.
9. Logos gift card. A few pastors specifically mentioned gift cards for Logos, a digital sermon preparation platform. But like the office items suggestion, make sure you check with someone to ensure they use Logos before purchasing this gift.
10. A gift that demonstrates you know they are a real person. One pastor noted, “Something that shows you see me and my interests outside of being a preacher.” Some pastors provided gift suggestions that would be uniquely suited for them—a pocket knife, kayak gear, and a pair of Jordan sneakers were a few of those items.
There was also a recommendation on what not to give. One respondent wrote, “Anything but ties or dress socks.” We hear you pastor. No ties or socks.
Whether you give a gift or even a handwritten note, take some time this Christmas to encourage your pastor. It will let them know that you love and appreciate all they have done this year.