Our pastor annually attends an orphan’s conference, because our church is significantly involved in orphan ministry. His wife travels with him to the related conference each year, and he turns in his wife’s travel expenses for reimbursement. Should our church reimburse these expenses?
The answer is one of my favorite ones: It depends. If your pastor’s wife is attending the sessions at the orphan’s conference for the purpose of providing information to participants in the orphan ministry at your church, I believe you have a sound basis to reimburse the expenses relating to her participation in the conference (registration, travel, meals, lodging, etc.). However, if she is merely accompanying her husband (even if she is attending some of the sessions), there is little basis to consider her expenses as church-related. If the church reimburses expenses unrelated to church purposes, the amount constitutes additional compensation to the pastor.
Dan Busby is a CPA and president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).