March 1, 2017
An often overlooked aspect of our ministries is the need for and importance of transportation. It has potential impact on every demographic within our church, every ministry, our outreach, our finances and our viability, yet is rarely discussed. Examples of transportation impact are as follows:
Our youth depend on parents or guardians to be dropped off; without that reliable access they do not attend Sunday school, confirmation classes and youth events.
Our seniors may have discontinued driving, or are uncomfortable with public transportation and may be leery of coming out at night, limiting their participation in important church events.
All other ages may have to share cars with young adult children and spouses, or have mechanical problems or cannot afford to incur the additional cost of fuel, tolls or bus fares to attend church by public or private means. Therefore, we miss out on their gifts and participation in important committees and leadership opportunities within our churches.
As we compete with the secular world for the hearts and minds of our congregation, it is worth examining how they address transportation issues. For youth at sporting events or other recreational activities, there are van or buses provided by schools and clubs or parents have organized very effective car-pooling to ensure no games are missed or movies unattended. For seniors, community centers often provide free pick-up and drop-off or they participate in the public access-a-ride program for seniors and those disabled.
Based on the examples above, the solutions are evident for our churches: where there is need we should organize effective car-pooling, not on an ad-hoc basis, but with focus and commitment and an assigned person or committee’s responsibility. Also investment in a church van or bus may be necessary.
There will be the obvious concerns in churches owning vehicles. For example where will the vehicle be parked or the question of whether the church can afford the insurance, maintenance and monthly payments. With car-pooling, some concerns are how do we get volunteer drivers, and if an accident occurs who is liable.
With transportation and similar issues we need to evaluate the return–on-investment. A positive ROI for us is not a financial measure, instead it is to heed our calling to be inviting and remove barriers to bringing souls to Christ.