A pastor, to quote a popular phrase, keeps careful watch over the congregation, their flock. In fact, the word pastor even derives from a Latin term for shepherd. Few other vocations come with quite so vague a job description. Good shepherds become preachers, teachers, mentors, comforters, advocates, counselors, and some even function as marketers, landscapers, and janitors. Juggling all these jobs is difficult, and it takes a toll at some point. To properly celebrate a meaningful vocation, here are eight unique gifts to give your pastor.
A Quality Commentary Set
First, getting up behind the pulpit every Sunday morning is your pastor’s most visible role. Help them prepare the best they can each week by gifting them any helpful resources that could make their job easier. While buying books on theology topics is always a nice thing, buying a complete commentary set allows for even more comprehensive preparation.
A commentary walks readers through a book (or books) of the Bible, providing systematic and comprehensive biblical interpretation assistance. While this is no substitute for your pastor’s own prayerful examination of a text, it supplements his or her thoughts with those of a trusted theologian. Often, these are invaluable tools for uncovering the cultural context of a particular passage so your pastor can preach through the passage in a nuanced way. Also, as they prepare to give a hard or unpopular message, commentary authors’ words help them feel less alone. Overall, it’s a great gift for their vocation, and just because they have a commentary already doesn’t mean they won’t take another. Often, hearing multiple voices on a subject or passage helps a person of faith not just take their favorite voice at face value, but to really dig deep.
A Commemorative Plaque
Over time, your pastor celebrates certain milestones. Their ordination, birthday, anniversaries, and retirement just scratch the surface of notable events. These occasions deserve congregation recognition, but you can also show them your appreciation for simply being your pastor.
Whether a big day comes around or a thank-you is long overdue, get them a Christian appreciation plaque. Emblazon it with their favorite verse or quote, include a sweet message from you or the entire church body, and let them display it for all to see. Plaques are ideal inclusions for their desk or bookcase, immediately upping the style of their office.
While commentaries give your pastor access to theologians’ guidance through different books, sometimes they benefit more from going somewhere and hearing from these theologians and thinkers in person. Better yet, the chance to have conversations with these very same church leaders they look up to is hard to pass up.
A theological conference is often the venue for doing this. While churches sometimes pay for their staff to attend conferences, they may not always have the budget. If that is the case, don’t let your pastor miss one he or she really wants to take part in. Fund part of the visit yourself. These events give pastors precious time away from the altar to listen to peers, dialogue about what burdens them, and gain exposure to important causes and practices.
Today, many preachers bring two things to the pulpit: their Bible and a tablet. The latter allows for easy note-following and generally helps your pastor feel equipped to speak. Also, it's great for seamlessly queuing up videos midsermon.
A tablet is also an apt gift because it need not just serve them on Sunday. It’s also a helpful study tool, medium for on-the-go sermon prep, and entertainment device. Rather than using a phone for electronic reading, a tablet also simply gives them more square inches to use so they aren’t squinting uncomfortably. No matter what purpose it ends up serving, a tablet is an ideal gift for a pastor filling many roles.
Gift Cards for Meals
Additionally, consider giving your pastor some gift cards for meals. These help bridge the gap if they need a meal at a conference but are perhaps more applicable for bustling Sundays. They and their families often need a reprieve by Sunday afternoon, especially if your church has several services throughout the morning. Gift cards give them an opportunity to grab something between services, meetings, or just because. Learn their favorite restaurants and buy accordingly—your pastor will thank you.
A Bible-Study Software Subscription
While your pastor grows attached to their favorite print commentary, there’s a more modern, subscription-based Bible-study trend ramping up in popularity. Thousands of serious Bible scholars, students, and pastors use Bible-study software to dig into the Word for themselves and for next Sunday’s message. If you get your pastor a subscription, you’re purchasing months’ worth of centralized resources, including side-by-side commentaries, word study tools, different Bible versions, and specifically searchable Scripture.
Never before was there a one-stop resource that pulled together so many things your pastor uses, coordinating them all together for ease of use. A gift like this can help pastors recapture their creativity, broaden their spiritual walk, and save time preparing lessons each week.
While studying long and thinking hard are important for a pastor, they’re also emotional, feelings-oriented people who crave connection with their Creator beyond intellectual pursuits. That’s why faith-based or theological art makes a perfect gift. Wherever they place it, a touching representation of Jesus, a creative depiction of a favorite parable, or another meaningful image will get them to pause and reflect.
If you know a biblical truth or concept they particularly care about, find an artist (or commission one) who represents it well. If you’re familiar with your pastor’s favorite Bible passage, have a professional calligrapher artfully write it out and frame it.
Commit to Serving in a Church Ministry
Our final unique gift to give your pastor may well be the most meaningful: commit to serving in a ministry they keep inviting you to sign up for. Youth programs, outreach, counseling, music, and countless other ministries are the true lifeblood of a church, and your pastor spends hours filling gaps as people come and go from serving. Giving of your time and abilities this way helps not only your pastor but also your community at large. If you were to ask them beforehand about gift ideas, your service would likely top their list.