There are now studies available around the world as to the cost value of savings of road accidents by using rail transport. The nature of prevention has now been calculated in this transport reality and the question is whether other prevention roles can be likewise given a dollar value.
The New South Wales Government department of Transport and Infrastructure likewise looks at these same critical numbers whereby a figure can be given to areas of transportation that might give cause to the prevention of accidents. This involves all costs associated with road trauma from hospital, medical, mental, psychiatric, physiological, rehabilitation, recovery, time off work and the like.
Sport too has been linked to this same situation, that by being physically active, there is a national cost saving to the health budget. The costs associated with sports science and sports infrastructure contributes to the total welfare of the nation, along with a highly visible sporting performance contributes more to an unquantifiable feel-good factor in society.
A figure was given that $40m was spent for each 2000 Sydney Olympic Australian Gold Medal.
I therefore wonder the dollar value to the society might possibly be placed on the pastoral work of the nation's thousands upon thousands of Vicars, Ministers, Priests, Pastors, Rabbi's, Imams, members of Religious Orders and other pastoral workers.
It so happened I carried out a ‘thought experiment’ and made out a ‘hypothetical’ list of the value of these people to society, in an analogy with the unquantifiable benefits of sport to the general morale of the nation.
Using the word 'Pastor' as a generic term, the local Pastor contributes:
• Broad well-being by turning up at community functions (feel good value);
• Spiritual well-being of their own communities of faith;
• Responsibility for significant property and investment, many of them major businesses;
• Private consultations to those seeking reflection and spiritual guidance, including those undergoing an emotional crisis;
• Oversight of local programs from play groups all the way through to seniors’ care;
• Involvement with maintaining Community facilities such as Schools, Retail Outlets, Retirement Villages ....
They do this by:
• Officiating at infant dedications, birthdays, special spiritual occasions, weddings, anniversary's, funerals; being available 24/7 for any crisis;
• Attaining the status of Best Friend to many, by having a good memory for names and faces and special occasions;
• Keeping the congregation members at peace with each other and negotiating Church politics;
• Laughing at others’ joy when personally feeling ‘down in the dumps’;
• Recognising the signs when it's time for another to lead this flock
• Maintaining the reading of books, websites and magazines to be able to ‘keep up’ theologically and to ‘keep up’ a fresh set of ideas for discussion and guidance with parishioners;
• Securing their 'private time with God’ – to pray and read the Holy Book;
• Being a spouse and loving parent in his/her own home.
And all of these things are done in a way that affords a good example to the community.
Realistically, the local Pastor is usually snowed under and only barely finds the time to meet many of the needs of their parishioners let alone his own spouse and family. Although fictitious, the hilarious sitcom 'The Vicar of Digby' gives a good illustration of the nature of the diversity of the demands on a Vicar's time.
To quantify the local Pastor's contribution to society as a dollar value to the national GDP would be a worthy subject for a thoughtful doctoral dissertation.
The award wages for these activities, and more, could be attained from public records and a running total made of how much the Pastor is worth to the nation's well-being.
I recall in 2008 how the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, gave the School Chaplaincy program another 12 months of funding having attended the funeral of a local Pastor and his and his wife's Pastoral role in the local schools.
We are waiting to hear whether it will be continued still … perhaps if the politicians in Canberra today read this article they might as one vote to continue to fund school chaplaincy.
This 'Local Pastor' value-add might be part of any population research as to the value to any Australia community.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html