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Tithing Management And The Future Of Digital Donation

Feb 1, 2008
I went looking for "online" and "kiosk" in my bible concordance to see what Jesus thought about digital donating. I didn't find anything. But then again, I didn't find "write a check" either. I did find several passages about bringing in crops and goats. Don't worry, there are provisions for what to do if you are truly blessed and cannot carry your crops and goats all the way to church. Deuteronomy 14:22-26 says you can convert them to silver (SILVER mind you, not plastic), take the silver to where the church is and buy something there to replace your tithe.

No mention of today's questions. 1) Is it ok if you have a button on your church website that would allow the congregation to tithe online? And 2) Is it tacky to have a giving kiosk in the lobby of your church?

Let's address the first question first. Online Tithing. If you are under 35 years old, you probably don't see a problem with contributing to your church online. The younger generation pays for a soda at the convenience store with their debit card. (My 19 year old daughter has never written a check.) If your under 55 years old, you probably have at least one bill that is paid automatically every month as a debit from your bank account. My parents are 75 years old. There's not a chance that they would go for tithing via the web. Not a one.

I am 41. Would I tithe online? On first thought, probably not. But then again maybe I would get used to it. Isn't that the real question? Would we get used to it? Change is difficult. At some point we stopped bringing the Pastor a goat and wheat. Does it really matter how the church donation gets to the church? I can see myself clicking on a button on my church's web page and making my tithe for the week. I think I could do that.

I think I could even have a fixed amount deducted from my checking account every month. Automatic debit deductions scheduled weekly or monthly is another service offered by Online Contribution Collecting Companies. Just like making that payment to the electric company or to your mortgage company via auto-pay, some church administrations have opted to make it possible for you to make a monthly predetermined payment for your church tithes and offerings. I don't think my grandmother would go for it, but I could do that. But would I stand in line in the vestibule to swipe my plastic in front of everyone?

In case you haven't heard, a growing number of church management are installing an ATM-like machine in their lobby which enables the congregation to step up and make their tithes and offerings by swiping their plastic. Instead of taking money out of the machine, they are putting money in, transferring money from their account to the churches account. Once again, does it really matter how the donation gets to the church? Is it the look of the thing that is getting the bad reaction? Even though the money is going in the opposite direction, if you walked into a new church and there was an "ATM Machine" in the vestibule, how would you react? How long do you think you would have that reaction? Could we get used to making our contribution to the church by a giving kiosk?

Some people (including 99% of the congregation over the age of 60) still feel that the act of giving cheerfully into the usher's basket is part of the blessing. The problem most have with digital donations is when the giving is done on a credit card. Paying your tithe on credit goes against the "Good Steward" principle, in my humble opinion. Debt doesn't bless anyone. That is a common feeling and why many of the online tithing companies offer "debit-card-only" accounts along side the accounts with full plastic capabilities. Still this leads to many other questions. Is it not ok to tithe on credit, but ok to give to the building fund on time? That is a question that I can't answer. I can answer another question: what is the benefit of these new ways to bring our tithes to the storehouse?

Besides the convenience for the members, digital donations help the church to collect more monies for the good works that they do. Online and automatic tithing can be done even if the contributor can't make it to church. Even if the "good steward" is on vacation or even if they split their time between the north and the south with the seasons. Even if they move away! Many times, a member of a church is forced to move, but still would like to support the old church. And having a outside company taking care of business frees up the church staff and volunteers that previously had been assigned to opening envelopes and entering contribution amounts in a ledger somewhere. These people can be reassigned to another area of church management. It makes it's own case. Or does it?

The shift in the way we do business has made it's way to the way we worship. Online, Automatic, or Giving Kiosks: will they replace the usher's velvet bag passed down the isle? Only time will tell. Each church administration will have to weigh the average age of their congregation against the advantages to make the decision for themselves.
About the Author
Teresa McNabb is a Christian writer that shares her experience's, knowledge and expertise in an often humorous and informative manner .
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