It is customary for families to provide a monetary donation to a pastor for conducting a funeral service. Yet many families are confused about how much of an honorarium they should give a minister for a funeral. How does one determine pastor fees for a funeral?
Pastors' Role in Funeral and Death
Pastors play an important role during times of grief, including and especially at a time of a loved one's passing. Depending on the needs of the family and the comfort level or relationship that family has with the pastor, that role will include both funeral planning and grief counseling. It may also involve coordination of the church's offering of support for the grieving family.
In some cases, pastors are extremely involved, giving enormous amounts of their time to the families in need. On other occasions, a minister's role may be minimal. This is particularly the case if the family does not have a preexisting relationship with the pastor and does not need or want significant pastoral support. Each situation is different.
At a minimum, though, the pastor will (or at least should) help plan the funeral and be available for prayer and support to the family as needed (particularly at the viewing and in the days immediately following the loved one's death). At the funeral itself, the pastor will preside over the ceremony, deliver the funeral sermon, lead in the prayers, and escort the deceased's remains to their final resting place.
How Much Do You Pay a Minister For a Funeral?
Though participation in weddings and funerals is expected of pastors, the time allocated is typically over and above a pastor's normal, ongoing responsibilities. For this reason, families do try to show their appreciation for the minister's time with some form of a monetary gift.
According to tipguide.org, the honorarium for a minister at a funeral service typically ranges from $50 to as much as $200. One chapel this author researched suggested a fee as high as $500, but that is definitely not typical.
Obviously, the amount a family offers the minister should be based on that family's financial situation and the amount of time and support the minister provided. An additional factor to consider is how much travel time was involved. A pastor having to go out of town for a funeral, for example, will incur expenses for food, mileage, and possibly lodging.
The important thing is for the family to simply show its gratitude for the minister's time and to try, to the best extent possible, to offset or defray any out-of-pocket expenses the minister may incur. Most pastors are not in the ministry for money, and thus will graciously appreciate any amount the family offers. In fact, in some cases, especially if the family is financially strapped, it may be acceptable for the family to thank the pastor in non-monetary ways.
Those pastors who are in the ministry for the right reasons are honored to be a part of supporting families in need and will appreciate whatever gesture of thanks and encouragement the family can provide.