8 Almost Free Ways Churches Can Show Appreciation to Their Pastor
I love to read novels.
It gives you a chance to live another life.
You get to experience the life of the character. You can slip into their skin. You can be a spy or a lawyer or anything else people have thought to write about.
When you finish the novel, the spell is broken, and the tension and weight of the experience is gone. Then you can move on to your next experience.
My husband lives life with a lot of people.
Right now, he is walking beside a lot of hurting people.
He empathizes with them and feels their pain.
He is watching a mother lose herself to Alzheimer’s, another lose a battle with brain cancer, mourning over a wife of thirty years, coming to terms with infertility, battling depression, hurting from divorce, celebrating new jobs, and babies, and homes, and marriages.
But he never moves on to the next story because the lives and relationships continue.
It can take a big toll on a person.
If you have had a pastor walk through a trial with you, then you probably appreciated their effort.
You probably have many good things to say about him if anyone asks.
Many times I have been asked how to show appreciation to my husband, and I haven’t really known except to repeat the ways that we have experienced.
My husband is currently on staff at an absolutely amazing church that loves and appreciates us.
They regularly make my family feel like we are the best thing since sliced bread.
Unfortunately that is not always the case for churches and their pastors.
That’s not to say that the people don’t appreciate their pastor, but they may not be expressing it well.
Often it’s just a case of misunderstanding.
The church feels like they’re doing a great job showing how much they love their pastor, and the pastor is pretty sure everything he does goes unnoticed and unappreciated. This cycle often results in pastors switching churches a few times before ultimately deciding that vocational ministry isn’t for them.
So what are some ways churches can show appreciation to their pastors?
We surveyed over 1,200 pastor’s wives to find out their favorite ways churches have shown appreciation for their husbands.
The answers were mostly fabulous. These ladies shared ways that their family had been shown appreciation and there are a lot of creative and loving churches out there.
Unfortunately, some pastor’s wives shared that their church had never done anything to make them feel appreciated.
They talked about how everything they did seemed to go unnoticed and many expressed a desire to just leave the ministry.
Don’t be that church.
Show your ministry leaders how much you love them and appreciate all that they do.
Here are 9 (almost) free ways churches can show appreciation for their pastor.
This post, 8 Almost Free Ways Churches Can Show Appreciation to Their Pastor, contains affiliate links for your convenience. This means that if you make a purchase using our link, we’ll receive compensation at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure policy.
1. Let the pastor & family eat for free at church
Many churches do a midweek Bible study with a meal provided by the church.
Our church does it on Wednesday nights, and Wednesday nights are tough for pastor’s families.
It’s the middle of the week, and you’ve got to get everything together and go to church.
For my family, this means I bathe and bring all 4 of our kids to church by myself and often we eat dinner without my husband because he’s off ministering.
Here’s where it gets extra tough for me, I always forget to bring money.
I don’t mean to.
Just in the hustle of getting out the door with the kids and putting up the dog and bringing my teaching materials and the snacks for after church and the diaper bag and the sippy cups, I just forget.
I don’t carry a checkbook, and I rarely have cash.
I realize I don’t have money when I pull in the parking lot, and I continue to stress about it and feel like a terrible person for the remainder of the night.
The people taking the money tell me it’s fine, bring it next time, but I forget it then too.
My husband comes through about once a month and clears our account.
It would be a tremendous blessing to just know that since we HAVE to be there, we eat free.
And before you say we don’t have to be there.
We do have to be there.
A big part of church is fellowship, and I don’t have the option to just stay home and eat dinner and then come.
And quite frankly I don’t want to be anywhere else.
I want my kids to have the opportunity to eat dinner with their favorite senior adults or friends from church.
We homeschool and one of the things I hate about it is the lack of interaction they get with other kids.
So on Wednesday nights they can sit and eat a meal with friends.
And while this isn’t an expense that hurts our budget, it is one of our most expensive dinners for the week. And my kids usually go home hungry because they are too excited to eat all their food or they play so much at church they need a second dinner at home.
The point isn’t the expense.
The point is for the church to say we appreciate your sacrifice to be here and we appreciate you. Have a free dinner on us.
2. Have an account for their kids to go to activities for free
People often want to help pastors and show their appreciation but don’t know how.
Your church could set up a designated account for the pastor’s family to go to events.
So if someone wants to donate $5 to the designated account or $100 it doesn’t matter. All of the money goes towards the pastor’s family’s expenses for church trips, events, camps, etc.
One of the pastor’s wives told us that one summer they had three children in youth at the same time. It was expected that all of their kids would go to all of the youth events, and the kids wanted to go. But the total cost for their children to participate in the activities over one summer was $1,900.
She said that a couple of people in the church realized what a financial burden they were under and gave them money to help offset the cost. But it was super awkward.
If there had been a designated fund for people to donated to without the awkwardness of handing them cash, I think everyone would have appreciated it.
3. Babysit for them for free
Your pastor’s marriage has a huge impact on his ministry.
If you can help him to have a strong marriage, you will do tremendous good for your church and your pastor.
Balancing ministry and marriage is hard.
Date nights are expensive.
Help your leaders out by seting up a rotation of people to babysit his kids for him once a month.
Now, please do not make an announcement on Sunday morning that you’re looking for people to keep the pastor’s kids once a month. People are pretty particular about who they allow to keep their children. Your pastor is no different.
Instead, you could talk to their normal babysitter(s) or the church nursery workers or people that the family has a relationship with to gauge who they trust with their kids.
If you don’t have people willing to help watch the kids, but they do want to help, just prepay their normal sitter.
4. Bring them food
One of the top answers from the pastor’s wives that we surveyed about their favorite way they’ve been shown appreciation was for people to bring them food.
I’m sure you’re not surprised by this.
Pastor’s families are people too, and mealtime is crazy at my house despite my every effort to minimize the chaos with simplified meal planning.
This doesn’t have to be a big ordeal, but if you’re making homemade lasagna for dinner, make two.
Bring them one to eat that night or freeze for later or whatever.
In times past when people have randomly brought us meals, it has always been at the best time. It’s like God put us on their mind because He knew we needed help that day.
5. Help with their home
We have a pastor friend who is always helping other people work on their homes and his own home has a lot of “deferred maintenance.”
His house is to the point that it’s a running joke how bad it is.
His wife commented that would mean the world to them for the church members to have a work day at the parsonage one Saturday. Not because they can’t do it themselves but because it would show them that people care enough to show up and help.
6. Ease his burden
Pastors have a lot on them on Sundays.
Just the idea of having to stand and talk in front of the whole congregation makes me break out in a cold sweat. But having to preach for 20-30 minutes about God’s word? That’s the stuff my nightmares are made of.
But pastors do it every week and usually more than once a week.
What’s wild is that a lot of churches also expect their pastors to do lots of extra things on Sunday mornings.
Like, “yes, we want you to deliver awesome sermons that tell about the soul saving power of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Also we also want those sermons to have some in depth learning for the more mature believers and for it to be funny and entertaining so we don’t get bored. Also, you should be the first one here to unlock all the doors and the last one here to lock up the building and please teach a Sunday school class and make sure all the restrooms are clean.”
It’s too much y’all.
One thing that kept coming up over and over in our survey was that pastors simply have too much on them on Sundays.
The lists of duties varied from church to church, but I’m sure you could think of something you could take off of your pastor on Sunday mornings.
Can you unlock the building?
Start the coffee?
Help senior adults up the stairs?
Sit with his kids when his wife is in the nursery?
If nothing else, you could act as a buffer for him on Sundays before he preaches. Just sort of be near him and run interference.
My husband has to really focus and get in the right headspace to be able to deliver his sermons well.
It is incredibly challenging to stay in that mindset after having someone complain to you about something you’re not doing right, or complain to you about something someone else isn’t doing right. And I feel like the devil purposely stirs people up on Sundays to throw pastors off.
So if there’s truly nothing that you can take off your pastor to let him focus on delivering his message, just finding a way to deflect some of the distractions would be a great help.
7. Extra time off
Being a pastor is an all-consuming job.
There are no days that you get to just coast.
It’s all in, all the time.
And it’s draining.
If your church wants to really show appreciation for your pastor, bear his burden.
Pick a week and have people take over all his duties and let him do whatever he wants.
Find someone to do all the hospital visits.
Get a guest speaker for Sunday.
Give your pastor a pass for coming in to the office for the week.
And yes, I know that your pastor gets vacation and sick days.
But I seriously doubt there are many pastors who use their vacation time to recharge. Pastors use their vacation time with their families.
Maybe he even gets days to go to conferences. And while going to a conference to learn more about being a good pastor is awesome, it’s not the same as deliberately taking time to seek the Lord in quiet solitude.
If your church can gift him a week with the instructions to use the time to recharge, he’ll likely take it.
It’s tough for churches to give full sabbaticals, but every pastor I know would love a mini-sabbatical.
They’d be ecstatic about having the opportunity to just go and reconnect with God and rest in His presence.
8. Invite them over
Pastoring can be a lonely calling.
People often assume that pastors and their families have everything together so they don’t want to invite them into their messy life.
My life is so messy. But it’s also beautiful and fun and difficult and all the things that everyone else’s life is.
And since hospitality is a really important part of our ministry (even though I consider myself an introvert), we have people over for meals at least twice a week.
But we don’t get a lot of invites to other people’s homes.
I know that part of it is that we have four kids.
Preparing food for an extra six people is intimidating.
But part of it is just that my husband is a pastor.
So whenever church members invite us over, we feel very appreciated and loved.
My husband loves to help hurting people.
Your pastor is likely the same.
He probably doesn’t care about wealth or fame, but he wants to know that he made a positive difference in your life.
He needs to know that the hours in counseling and thousands of silent prayers meant something to you.
He needs to know that you appreciate the strength he lent you in your hour of need.
He needs to know that the tears you shed together were meaningful.
I hope you will draw inspiration from these ideas, but more than anything I hope you will encourage and show appreciation for your pastor.
What ways has your church shown appreciation for your pastor?
WANT TO REMEMBER THIS LATER? PIN 8 WAYS YOUR CHURCH CAN SHOW APPRECIATION FOR YOUR PASTOR TO YOUR FAVORITE PINTEREST BOARD!