A minister's job entails performing funerals, but the actual services he provides can vary widely. Some ministers are asked to perform a brief sermon, while others may be asked to help organize the entire affair. Most ministers also visit the family's home to offer comfort during this difficult time. For these reasons, the amount of a minister's monetary gift may vary depending on what he is asked to do.
Honorarium or Upfront Fee
Experts hold varying opinions on whether or not you should ask the minister about his fee for funeral services. Some say you should never ask and just give him an honorarium, which is a monetary gift. Others say that many ministers already have a set amount in mind that they usually charge. One way you can handle this is to see what happens when you meet with your minister. When you ask your minister to help you with your funeral arrangements, he may bring up his fee during the preparations. If he does not, you will need to decide how much you want to give him on your own.
In general, customary fees average between $150 and $250, but they can be as low as $50 or as high as $500. Consider what you are asking the minister to do before you decide how much to give him. If he is hosting the visiting hours at your home, or has helped you arrange the entire service, you should probably give him an amount on the higher end of the scale. Of course, if he has a set fee, you don't have to worry about that.
Some families tip above and beyond the upfront fee. This does not apply if you are giving an honorarium, as that is very similar to a tip in itself. If you paid your minister a flat fee before the funeral, and after the funeral, you feel like he really went above and beyond to help you in your time of grief, you can also give him a tip.
How to Pay
If you are paying upfront, you can pay the church secretary any time before the funeral. If you do don't this, the minister's church will likely bill you later. If you are going to give the minister an honorarium, slip it into an envelope and give it to him before the service, as you may not have time to give it to him later. Either way, follow up by sending a thank-you note to the minister within two weeks after the service. General etiquette states that it is somewhat impolite to include payment in the note, so send the note after payment has been made.
If you don't have a minister, the funeral director might offer to secure one for you. In this case, the director may include the minister's fee in the funeral bill. Be sure to check the itemized list of expenses in your bill to see if you have already paid the minister.
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