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Moving the Church Forward

July 6, 2023 jill Blog
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By Ron Haley

At the close of the book of Matthew, the mission of the church is clearly stated: “…go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

While the mission has been clear how to get there, when it comes to transportation, especially, it can be confusing and expensive if not done right!

The church utilizes various modes of transportation to bring people from their homes to church, from the parking lot to the building, for youth camps, senior church trips, and local missions.

It is rare that one size or type of vehicle can meet all the possible uses and budgets of a church, so where should a church start?

Here are three basic questions that will get you moving forward in the mission of church transportation.

What is the primary purpose or use of the vehicle that the church is considering purchasing? 

If the church is primarily planning to use the vehicle for Sunday transportation of people from the parking lot or their homes, they may want to consider a vehicle that does not require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which in most states is 14 passengers or less.

Finding a volunteer for this type of vehicle is much simpler and would be much easier to maneuver in the parking lot or on city streets and neighborhoods. There are a variety of vehicles that would meet this need that could be purchased or leased.

If the vehicle is going to be used more sparingly for church camps and/or trips for the senior members of the church, typically the seating capacity will increase to above 14 passengers.

Larger modes of vehicles ranging from 15-57 passengers are available; however, a CDL would be required.

Often, the best route on these types of vehicles is renting a vehicle or booking a charter. Owning and operating larger vehicles is typically not a wise use of church funds because the vehicles are used fewer than 5-10 times per year.

What is the church’s budget? 

Larger vehicles have not been immune to inflation in the vehicle industry caused by the pandemic and chip shortage. Vehicle prices are up 35% and can place a strain on the church budget and its primary mission of making disciples.

If new vehicles fit the budget, there will be less maintenance and more reliability, and they typically come with all the latest features, such as back-up cameras, USB ports and even Wi-Fi in some cases.

A great alternative to new is to find a dealer with a large, low-mileage inventory that can give you most of the benefits of new at a significantly reduced price. Leasing and renting might also be the answer for some churches to help with cost, reliability and low mileage usage vehicles.

What amenities must be on the vehicle being acquired or utilized?

As the church attempts to serve a community, those with mobility challenges must be considered. Vehicle ramps, wheelchair lifts and low entry heights are available with varying ambulatory and wheelchair capacities.

While accessibility sits at the top of the list of things to consider, church vehicles can be used for everything from outside graphics to spread the message of hope, to audiovisual equipment internally to make church announcements.

Storage capacity varies but should be considered to accommodate luggage, equipment, camp supplies and all other items necessary for church outings and ministries.

While these three basic questions are far from exhaustive, it is a great place for your church to start.

It is advisable to involve a knowledgeable person or consult with a reputable dealer specializing in church vehicles to ensure that your chosen bus, van or motor coach meets the specific needs and requirements of your church’s community and mission.

Whether you need transportation for Sunday worship, youth group activities, community outreach, or other activities, finding the right transportation solution is critical to keep the church and its mission moving forward.

Ron Haley is the executive vice president of sales and marketing at Master’s Transportation, one of the country’s leading providers of commercial vehicles for rent, lease and purchase. He leads the team of experts that help “Move People Forward” every day by finding the vehicle that fits their needs and budget,