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THE PRICE OF GAS AND PASTORAL MINISTRY or PASTORAL GAS

This week I have already logged 180 miles doing ministry.  I legitimately could have doubled that had I the time.  For example, today I am supposed to go to Tacoma for a denominational meeting.  It is a meeting I love and am prepared for, but will not be able to attend because of time constraints—next week is Holy Week and I’m a little busy.  So, if I were going to Tacoma again this week, that would up the mileage considerably.

Being in a car is not unusual for me or for any minister.  It is a part of the work and travel is an ancient part of ministry.  Jesus was always on the move as was the Apostle Paul.  To a certain extent I enjoy travel, whether by car, ferry or plane.  What has changed though in recent times is the cost of gasoline.  When I first began doing ministry gasoline was about $1.19 a gallon.  Yesterday I paid $4.05.  Experts are indicating that by the summer it could be as high as $5.00 a gallon.  If I take my 180 miles and assume 30 miles per gallon (which is a high estimate because much of the driving is stop-n-go traffic) I’ve spent $24 in gasoline this week.  Average that out over a month and we have $96, and in a year, well, that is $1,300.  This is money I do not get reimbursed for and which I do not get a tax deduction for because I already max out all my allowable deductions. 

My church pays me well, so the money is not a problem.  I am taken care of because i serve the greatest church in the world.  Other churches solve some of the problem by giving the minister a gasoline allowance.  That is probably a good idea.  The point though, that I am drawing out is regardless of who is paying or how well pastors are compensated, the price of doing ministry is going up—and this price is being calculated at a personal level.  I suspect there are many pastors who are not well compensated and who have no reimbursement plan from their church and the price of gas is killing them.  Will they get a haircut this week, pay for their kid’s band trip, or go make hospital visits?

I suspect that as energy costs rise, we might see the following changes to ministry.

 

 

 

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