How to Compensate a Pastor for a Funeral

Most pastors will be willing to perform the service for free, but an honorarium should still be offered.
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A pastor helps bereaved families in a variety of ways, from providing emotional comfort to delivering a thoughtful sermon at the funeral. In order to show appreciation, it's customary for the family to provide a monetary gift called an honorarium. The amount given depends on local customs as well as the relationship with the pastor.

1 When Should I Pay the Pastor?

It's customary to pay your pastor after the funeral has concluded. The honorarium is usually paid in check form; an envelope with the pastor's name on it is an appropriate method of delivery. According to the Emily Post Institute, it's also a good idea to give a thank you card that expresses your appreciation. You can deliver the card and honorarium at the same time. If you're not up to the task, you can also request that the funeral director give the pastor the honorarium.

2 How Much Should I Pay Him?

The amount that you give your pastor as an honorarium is completely up to your discretion. The Emily Post Institute recommends between $100 and $300, but they also note that it's all right to check with the funeral home or place of worship about what the normal rate is in your area or at your church. The pastor himself may be uncomfortable quoting you a price, so ask another educated party instead.

3 Can I Get Help With Payment?

If the funeral was held at a funeral home, you may be able to request a cash advance from the funeral home for the honorarium. A cash advance means that the funeral home covers the cost of the honorarium and then adds it to your bill. It's not a gift -- you will have to pay it back, but a cash advance can help you out in a bind. Be aware of any fees associated with the advance if you decide to ask for one.

4 Considerations

When deciding how much to spend on an honorarium, it's important to consider personal finances as well as the amount of time the pastor spent preparing for the funeral. If the pastor reached out to the family immediately after the death and spent a great deal of time consoling them, a larger gift may be warranted than if the family doesn't know the pastor. Similarly, it's appropriate to consider the time a pastor spent helping the family select the funeral music and other arrangements.

Lara Webster has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has been featured on Relationships in the Raw, The Nursery Book, Spark Trust and several travel-related websites. Webster holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in mass communication and media studies, both from San Diego State University.