July 3 - 9, 2006



Bicycling pastor models good stewardship

A pastor I know is a great stewardship role model for his congregation, his fellow pastors-- and everybody who sees him pedal down the street. He rides his sturdy bicycle almost everywhere he needs to go. Not always, of course, not in lousy weather, but enough to catch the notice of people who look up to him. The pastor is making a statement and also setting excellent examples of good stewardship on a number of points.

HEALTH AND FITNESS: In his 50s, this pastor has gray hair but also the trim physique of a man much younger. Bicycling -- the activity people can see -- is just one part of a healthy style of living that involves eating well, taking care of himself and exercising regularly. Moreover, he has lots of energy and exudes a robust healthiness. What a great example, especially for aging parishioners who sometimes avoid vigorous outdoor exercise. 

Personal health is truly our primary stewardship issue. If we are not taking care of our mind, body and spirit, our journey in life can be miserable and shorter than we might expect. Exercise and eating right puts years in our life and life in our years. Healthy living can help prevent disease, and in the event of illness, healthier people tend to suffer less and recover more quickly. And this, of course, lowers medical bills. 

ECONOMY: With gas at nearly $3 a gallon, it costs a lot to get the car out of the garage. The pastor is modeling a way to get around that costs pennies. Once purchased, a good bicycle lasts for years and years with very little maintenance. In much of the rest of the world, bicycles provide inexpensive, convenient everyday transportation. For American families on a budget, a bicycle is a lot less costly than a car -- or a second car! For those who own both a bike and a car, every mile put on the bicycle means less wear and tear on the car, so it lasts longer.

ENVIRONMENTAL: Cars cause pollution. Poor air quality in many major cities comes as a direct result of car and truck exhaust. And global climate scientists are alarmed that the earth is warming up dramatically, and a key reason is greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning -- much of it from cars and trucks. Fossil fuels also have hidden environmental costs from environmental damage done in the process of extraction, shipping and refining. Riding a bike burns calories instead of fossil fuel. It's a win sure win for the environment.

LAND USE: Bicycles require much less in the way of road space or road intensity, since they are much lighter than cars. They also take up a fraction of the space when it comes to parking. In the same area it takes to park one minivan, a good bicycle rack can comfortably accommodate lots of bicycles.  (How much space would that free up in your congregation's parking lot!)

For all these reasons, my pastor friend is setting a wonderful stewardship example by making his bicycle a part of how he gets around every day. It's an effort our churches can support by encouraging our members to ride to church. In this week's Gleanings is a story of a church in British Columbia that holds an annual "Bike Sunday" (click here to read it). A church might also team up with a local bicycle shop to host "bike clinics" or talks on bike safety. Oh, and here's my idea for a bike bumper sticker: "What would Jesus ride?"

--Rob Blezard, webmaster and editor

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