December 10, 2009

Staff Christmas Gifts, Christmas Parties, Gifts for the Pastor

I love the Christmas season and all the parties. I've often joked about "being on the party circuit" during December. It's really nice to be invited to all the Sunday School parties; we've even hosted an open house at the parsonage. This all well and good, as long as it doesn't get out of hand. But what do you do about getting gifts for your staff--paid or volunteer? Do you give gifts to your church leaders? If so, what works best?

Lately, we've found a wonderful woman who makes hand-painted Ukrainian eggs with rich Christian symbolism. These make great ornaments and I use mine at Easter too. But I admit, finding gifts can be difficult.

It seems that many churches don't give a Christmas gift to the pastor. True, some parishioners sometimes give individually, but not the church as a whole. I've always found this odd; given that where ever I've worked in the secular world, the company has always given at least some token. Perhaps church folks just don't think about it. I remember at one church, the choir gave the director several hundred dollars (I was in the choir and gave too.) And my spouse got nothing.

I know we are not in ministry for the money, but simple acts of kindness often just go undone. It's significant too that, in our experience, the smaller churches are the most generous.

What do you think? Should churches give pastors Christmas gifts? Should the pastor give gifts to the staff and church leaders? What make the most meaningful gifts for you and your family?


Kathy is a book editor at a religious publishing house


  1. Kathy, a church which will not give a pastor a Christmas gift as a group or as individuals is also a church which will not celebrate pastor appreciation in October nor hold a anniversary for so many years in ordained ministry. My observations lead me to believe that such lack of respect is not the norm in either the African American denominations or the Korean denominations.

    I think churches should give pastors and the whole pastoral staff Christmas gifts. I'm not sure of pastors giving their staff a Christmas gift personally because of boundary issues and the so easy to fall into look what pastor __ __ gave me, I must be his favorite and such mess.

  2. My husband received a check from the church every year for 4 years. This year they did not give one. No explanation, no comments, it was just not given. It just so happens that we are also moving this year. A mid year move was announced in November and next week is our last Sunday. I have also noticed that the first 2 Christmas seasons we were here our children received numerous gifts. The last 2 years certain individuals were miffed at the direction of leadership my spouse was taking and did not give my children christmas gifts. When immaturity hurts my children I have a difficult time feeling charitable myself.