Modern Giving Methods
I eat lunch regularly with a pair of 20-somethings. Not only do I want to act as an informal mentor, I want to stay in touch with the younger generation and avoid turning into an old fogey—a fate I’ve seen befall too many seniors.
Something I’ve noticed about my younger companions is that neither carries cash. That resulted in treating one to lunch recently when the restaurant’s temporarily-malfunctioning Internet service left it unable to process his debit card.
Ironically, shortly before this amusing development (cash free isn’t always trouble free!), I recommended to our pastor that we allow people to give electronically as one method of increasing giving to the church.
The inspiration for my suggestion didn’t stem from my lunchmates. That came from a story earlier this year. It told of a church seeing a 23 percent annual increase in income after offering a streamlined approach to online giving.
Like me, if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area, you may assume that the locals are less likely to adapt to the latest technological wizardry. As my experience with these young men shows, that isn’t true.
This caused me to reflect on the long-standing practice of passing a collection plate (at our church, a bag) on Sunday. And, how antiquated that appears to a younger generation comfortable with paying their restaurant tab on a smartphone.
At the same time, I wonder: do a few flicks of the finger to donate to the church involve a much less thoughtful consideration of one’s gift? Yet, it is obvious that in clinging to tradition, churches run the risk of also missing out on donations from those who grew up in a ubiquitous cellphone age.
The Cashless Society
About two weeks ago, I saw a more recent story that addressed electronic tithing.
Among the statistics it cited and the question these numbers raise:
- Close to 50 percent of Americans carry $20 or less.
- Eighty percent are foregoing checkbooks altogether.
- With a large majority of congregants no longer carrying cash or checks, will people still have a method to fund the church?
That is a question every congregation needs to address.
Harbinger of Change
Although just a one-man business, I am still a harbinger of societal changes. At one time I mailed mail invoices and attending paperwork to most publications. Now I email all of them.
Some places pay me electronically, which is hard to argue with when it speeds up receipt of income. Last summer when I started a new book project, the co-author sent me a check for the advance, but asked if he could make the remaining payments via PayPal.
Ironically, even as I advocate our church consider electronic giving, I can’t help remembering the prophetic warnings about the mark of the beast in Revelation 13:16-17.
Many prophecy “experts” say that is future tense. However, at a Bible conference once, I heard a seminary professor tell if its fulfillment in the first century: a Christian martyr was boiled in oil after refusing to take a Roman emperor’s mark.
However one interprets that Revelation passage, this much is clear—relying on age-old collection methods in a world that has moved beyond that may pose a one-way ticket to oblivion.