At my church we recently introduced online giving at our website. I know for some people this is a bit controversial, and for others, they’ve wondered why it has taken so long. Some view credit cards as the epitome of evil, not unlike the fruit Satan told Eve to go ahead and take a bite of, while others use them and pay them off every month. For that matter, some people think drinking is a sin, and others would say it’s almost sinful not too appreciate a fine wine.
I’m not responsible for selling the whole giving online thing at my church. (Perhaps you haven’t noticed my disclaimer at the bottom of every page on my site, which I include so I could write sentences like the one in that last paragraph.) But I’d like to share with you some of the benefits of giving online.
- The more people who give online the faster the plates move through the sanctunasium.(We worship in a combination sanctuary/gymnasium.) It’s a tough proposition for us worship leaders trying to come up with something to put here every week.
- If you give online, you allow church leaders a little more freedom to cancel services in case of weather. Like when it snows too much and driving is dangerous. Or when it’s exceptionally beautiful and it’s been a long winter and we all want to take the day off. (See my post on why French toast tastes better when you’re skipping church.)
- You can give online even when you’re on vacation. Disneyland is not the happiest place on earth when you’re burdened with the guilt associated with forgetting your tithe.
- No more last-minute trips to the ATM before church. I have some friends who only use their debit cards. They don’t even have any checks. For my younger readers, checks are those pieces of paper that serve as sort of hall pass. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any money. I have this. If you take it to this bank, they’ll give you money.” (I may have stolen that from Seinfeld. These friends of mine complained that sometimes by Sunday morning the cash in the ATM has been depleted. I don’t know how much they give. Maybe they were just bragging. My bank has a daily limit anyway. I’m sure theirs is much higher. Camels squeezing through the eye of a needle pretending there’s no money in the ATM. Sad excuse.
- If you give online, no one can judge you for how much or little you give. Sort of how I just did. Hmm.
Rafiki and Simba
From one church to another, Christians view offering differently. The church where I served at for a long time got rid of offering plates and installed “cheer boxes” by the sanctuary entrances, where we would drop in our envelopes. There you could pick up a wrapped mint as a sort of thank you. Actually, those were for the people onstage. You don’t want to know what the coffee breath of a collective congregation smells like when they’re singing “How Great Is Our God.” (Why so many how’s in that song, Mr. Tomlin?)
At a church where I served in an interim role, their offering portion of the service was quite traditional. The ushers would pass the plates from the front then gather them at the back. The head usher, who either had drawn the short straw that day or was just holier than the others, would then return the money to the front where he or she would hold it up like Rafiki hoisting Simba. It was all very reverent. I didn’t realize that sliding announcements or videos or my stand-up routine in that spot was like a slap in the face to those for whom it was a worshipful moment.
But I always argued—which I did a lot at that church—that I could worship when I give online too. In fact, worshiping God with our money means more than dropping some change in an offering plate. It involves what I do with all of my money.
Try giving online. It’s cooler than simply paying your DirecTV bill online. I imagine Oompa Loompas taking my digital money, converting it to gold coins, and couriering it directly to my church. I’ve never seen them in the church office, but then, I work a lot from home.