About reimbursement

Tim Isbell (updated August 2014)

All of the resources I offer through this site are free. In addition  I offer my time often for free.  Sometimes this time takes the form of preaching or doing some other form of public ministry at a local church or Christian organization. I am quite willing to do this even for churches that cannot afford to reimburse me at all. I love start-ups and am quite comfortable in very small settings. 

Over many years I invited speakers into New Life where we were fortunate to have the money to reimburse them for expenses and provide some sort of honorarium. As a host pastor I was uneasy unless I knew pretty well what to give a guest so that when they walked out the door they felt good about the experience. So I asked them how much they expected or how much they customarily received, but they were always reluctant to tell me. Eventually some did, and I asked other pastors for how much they give to guest contributors, and then cranked in my own judgment.  

Now I'm the guest. And I want to be the kind of guest that is easy to host. Hence, this page of guidance.

If your church cannot afford anything...

If I think God may have in mind to use me (and Robin, who sometimes accompanies me) in your setting, I'll gladly do my best for free - no reimbursement, no honorarium. In past years the Lord provided adequately for the funding of our current ministry. So don't let the lack of money keep you from asking me/us to come. We are honored every time the Lord gives us an opportunity to interact with one of his Kingdom Outposts. 

Travel reimbursement. 

If your church is financially healthy and you want to reimburse me for some or all travel expenses, here's some data to help you. The IRS guideline changes from time to time, but right now it is about $0.50/mi. Gas alone is about $0.22/mile. So something in that range is a normal travel reimbursement. You don't have to cover any of this, but in any event you should not cover more than the current IRS allowance.

In case you're the analytic sort, here's my analysis of my actual costs. Gas (at $4.00/gal) comes to $0.22/mile, historic maintenance costs on our vehicles is $0.26/mile, depreciation is about $0.15/mi, and insurance is about $0.05/mi. These total $0.68/mi. 

Overnight accommodations. 

If your location is 75 miles or more away from San Jose, California than I may stay overnight near you. I simply can't do a high enough quality job driving 75 miles to your church on a Sunday morning, ministering among your people before and/or after worship, preaching, and then driving home the same day. In such situations I/we may opt for a modest motel. Anything from a clean Motel 6 to a Hampton Inn is fine. If you have the money to reimburse all or part of this and want me to give you the receipt, just ask. Or you can estimate it based on the price of a typical motel in your area. If not, we will pay for our own accommodations.


Some churches are financially strong enough to give an honorarium. If you decide to do this, please limit it to $100/visit or less. We'll use this to fund our expenses when serving other churches who have more limited funds, or to fund other unpaid Christian ministry that I/we do or is close to our hearts.

What if there's an excess?

At calendar year end, we donate any excess to some ministry around the Northern California Nazarene District. One of our favorites is our own Math Coaching ministry among under-resourced middle and high school students in west San Jose.

I don't send/provide a bill.

I leave it up to the church to read through this web page and decide how much, if anything, they choose to pay.