I have a unique position in the church today. I used to be a Rector of a large church in North Dallas. (Christ Church in Plano, TX). But I am no longer a Rector. Instead, I have the good fortune to hang out, teach, coach, and encourage a lot of Rectors.
For example, I spent three hours in the last week on a phone call with three different Rectors of three different congregations. In the same week, I led a preaching course for Rectors as part of RSVP (RectorsSummit.org). In other words, I think about Rectors a lot and the work that they do. LeaderWorks is all about helping leaders do their work.
So, given my three decades of experience as a Rector and my role in the life of dozens of Rectors, I have compiled a Christmas list for laypeople to use in considering what to give.
Two more qualifiers.
- I am assuming you really want to give your Rector something of substance and not just a greeting card assuring him or her of your support.
- I suppose some of these gifts might well be given to other priests and deacons in the church. I am not trying to exclude them. I am only trying to focus my attention on this one idea: What Your Rector Wants for Christmas.
1. Gift Cards
Gift cards are always helpful, but I would suggest that a $100 gift card for books is pitch-perfect.
Every Rector (I know) loves to read and the congregation benefits from their life-long learning. But you may not realize how expensive specialized theological and religious books are today.
- N. T. Wright’s new book with Michael Bird surveys the entire New Testament. On Amazon, it’s over $40 on sale!
- Dr. Gerald Bray has recently released a critical edition of the Anglican Books of Homilies. Most Rectors would love to have it, but the hardcover on Amazon is over $100 while the paperback is over $40.
Rector’s are trained to do things in moderation, but the one area where they do (and should) go crazy is in the area of books. Help them go shopping!
2. The Generosity Box
Now, this might seem a little self-serving but hear me out.
I think every rector wants a plan to equip their church with the resources that they need to fund their mission and ministry. Rectors need to have adequate resources to do their work.
The problem is they have seldom been trained to ask for the resources they need. It is not a common strength.
Our first reports in from the churches that actually did the program are amazing. We are seeing increases in budgets by 10-15%.
You may find it odd for me to ask you to give your church a program that will help your church ask you to give more. Well, okay, it is. But it will be well worth it. Go to “TheEverGreenProject.org” and order one for your Rector today.
3. Clergy Clothing
Most clergy need to have certain items in their closet for the work God has given them to do. They buy clergy shirts, clergy collars, robes, vestments, and such. None of these are cheap! A gift certificate in this area would be well appreciated.
By the way, for things like clothes or books, I would encourage you to give gift cards/certificates. These items are personal to your Rector and it makes sense that he or she should be left to make the final selection and purchase.
Here are a few well-known clothiers for clergy and ordained leaders.
- Almy and Wippell are well-known traditional companies.
- I do find that many of our young leaders are gravitating to these Fair Trade Clergy Shirts by Butler & Butler. They are ethically sourced and more tailored to fit.
Most parishioners know more about their Rector’s hobbies and interests than I do. They pop up in sermon illustrations, casual conversation, etc.
Maybe your Rector is really into hiking. What about an REI gift card?
Do they enjoy movies? One young rector I know just received a $100 Fandango gift card for him and his family to enjoy over the holidays. Something for the Rector to enjoy with his or her family is a great gift!
Maybe, it’s just a really nice version of something the Rector wouldn’t get for themselves. For instance, Cherry Hill Bibles does incredible custom work for Bibles or BCPs.
Finally, you may be looking to do something really big for a Christmas gift or a key anniversary in the life of the Church. Your Rector probably wants a few days of retreat with his/her spouse at a nice place of THEIR own choosing.
This is a wonderful thing for someone to give. Rectors are in the constant mode of “providing” for the members of their church. It is a joy and a privilege to do this. But from time to time it is certainly nice to go to a place where one can be provided for to rest and recharge.
You could even send them on a pilgrimage. I lead tours on a regular basis to the Holy Land and other places. These are trips that your Rector will love!
Most parishioners have a special relationship with their Rector. They will want to express their love and gratitude during Christmas through a gift. These are just a few ideas of what Rectors really want for Christmas. They are ways to help each Rector feel affirmed and appreciated for the work they do.
Get creative and be generous!
Canon David has over 35 years of local congregational ministry, diocesan and national involvement, leadership, and ministry experience and is the founder of Leaderworks. He was the founding Rector/Pastor, Christ Church, Plano and currently serves as the Strategic Leader and Dean, Diocese of C4SO.