How to Write your Pastor a Thank You Note

How to Write your Pastor a Thank You Note

“Investing our time and spirit in giving love and gratitude to others – simply to give and expect nothing in return – is a gift that will be cherished for many years.”



Saying Thanks
My mother taught me many wonderful things, and one of them was the importance of saying thank you. I still write – yes hand write – almost all of my thank you notes and letters. I often joke that mom, who died 8 years ago, is watching me to make sure I still do it! I love to write notes and letters because it gives me some time of close connection to that person. I bring them into my consciousness, say a prayer for them, and remember why I value them.

I also love to receive thank you notes and letters. As a lay leader in the church for over 25 years, and one who has worked with many clergy and other leaders, we especially cherish receiving thank you notes that are sent “out of the blue.” These are ones that simply say thank you for being you, thank you for all you do, or perhaps thank you for how I touched their life without even being aware of it.

So have you thanked your pastor lately? The church secretary? The Christian education director? Your music leader?  As the program year is coming to an end, this is a perfect time to write a thank you note. Here are four tips to get you started.

1. Focus on gratitude
Begin simply. Just say thank you. Write in a tone of appreciation and gratitude. For example: “I am writing to say thank you for your leadership at {your church}. I give thanks each day that you have been called into ministry with us. I watch as you lead and teach us in so many ways each week, listening to us, celebrating with us, mourning our losses, being present in so many ways in our lives. Thank you for being out pastor/priest/minister.”

2. Add something specific and personal  
Tell them about something they did that was meaningful to you or how they have made an impact in your life. This could be for a class they led, a sermon, a special worship service. It could be for pastoral care – visiting you in the hospital or when you were ill, being with you at the illness or death of a loved one, being with you for a celebration of a marriage or birth. You could thank them for their presence and leadership in a difficult meeting or as your church has worked through a hard situation.

3. Include scripture
Add a verse of scripture if that is appropriate and comfortable for you. Perhaps there is a particular passage that is meaningful to you or one that your leader often quotes. You could emphasize the gifts of the spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) and how you see these traits in your leader’s life. One of the thank you notes that I received quoted John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

4. Don’t stray
Resist the urge to give advice or ask for anything. Share your gratitude for their leadership and presence. Share your generous spirit with them.

The Importance of Gratitude
Christian community is built on love, and love is the foundation of relationships. Investing our time and spirit in giving love and gratitude to others – simply to give and expect nothing in return – is a gift that will be cherished for many years.


Carolyn Moomaw Chilton writes and blogs as a spiritual discipline and an invitation to conversation with others. She is currently on staff at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia as the Assistant for Evangelism and Stewardship.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Judi Hill

    Thank you so much for your advice. I am going to send my Priests a Thank you note today and let them know how much I appreciate their labors to make our church a real community.

  2. Admin

    Thanks Judi!

  3. Carolyn Chilton

    That’s great, Judi. Thank you for doing it, and thank you for replying!

    Carolyn Chilton

  4. Diane Stanley

    Your suggestions were just what I needed to be able to tell a beloved pastor,as he leaves for a new assignment, how much he has meant to me and our church.

    Diane Stanley

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