May 12, 2011
New Report: Households Spent $368 on Gas Last Month
The ramifications of higher gas prices for churches.
A new report issued last week by the Oil Price Information Service shows the average American household spent $368 in April on gas, according to this CNN article.
If church leaders haven't already done so, it's time to think about the possible ramifications of unprecedented gas prices on attendance and giving this summer. People, already pinched by rising prices, small (if any) wage increases, job losses, and the like, may struggle to give what they normally would. And a need to cut down on car trips to conserve fuel for work and school commutes may prompt some to skip the drive to church some weekends.
Challenging economic times offer opportunities to speak of the blessings that come from faithful weekly commitments. It's also wise to anticipate the possibility of decreased giving.
On a budgetary basis, churches should consider the ramifications of slowed giving on spending and other budget plans, including travel for conferences and missions trips. Summer is usually a slower season for giving anyway, because attendance fluctuates as people travel for vacations, so many congregations likely already scale back their spending during this stretch. Still, further reining in of expenditures may be needed.
In addition, leaders may want to discuss ways to help congregants, such as establishing carpools or providing local public transit information. If your church hasn't yet begun offering online streaming of its services, this also may be a good time to re-evaluate that as well.
And for the benefit of paid staff members and lay leaders alike, churches also would do well to identify what meetings and other weekday and weeknight activities might be consolidated so that fewer trips are necessary (and less energy use in the building throughout the week is required).