Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Solving the problem of shrinking church offerings

Note: I am acquainted with several state convention folks who work in the area of stewardship. I like these people. I appreciate their expertise. They have a genuine concern for the Lord's work in and among the churches. The following is offered tongue-in-cheek and not meant to be harsh or critical of them.

Plodder hopes that his pastor brethren who are just starting out understand that our denominational servants spend a lot of time sitting around thinking about the problems we all have in our churches. Oh yeah, they do a lot of that.

Like how offerings are down and the world is lost and headed to gehenna in a hand basket if we don’t get them back up.

So I was at a meeting recently with other fellow soldiers of the Lord and denominational servants whose grave expressions and ominous words conveyed the dark future of SBC churches with respect to giving, or, if you prefer a more accurate term – receiving.

The issue came up about how we are going to help cashless and checkless twenty/thirtysomethings make their offerings.

“Brethren,” my cutting edge colleague intoned, “this is a very serious problem. These people don’t carry cash. They don’t use checks.”

Indeed, I thought. Our technically advanced Busters and Gen-Xers, who can navigate without maps, get all their news without ever holding a paper, and read books without turning a page. These are people whose dexterity with their thumbs on a tiny keypad is little short of astonishing and who are so socially networked they know what all their friends eat for breakfast each day. But...they can’t find a way to give to their church, where they worship and serve?

And we sixtysomethings need to rescue them from such stewardship woes?

Plodder has always presumed that folks who love the Lord and want to give to their church can find a way. He also has great faith in committed followers of Christ supporting their congregation with their resources even if it is moderately inconvenient to give.

But just in case some of my younger brethren/sistren are mired in angst over the matter here are a few things churches can do to alleviate this giving anxiety:

1. Install debit and credit card readers on backs of pews. No joke. This technology is available. Sit and swipe. It's done.

2. Put kiosks in the foyer (narthex for you high church Baptists). Kind of like the airport. You go to church you ‘check in’ at the kiosk and give your money. Kiss the kiosk might be a good slogan for this.

3. Put electronic readers at all doors. When someone walks in they get automatically debited – like a toll road. Is it nothing to all ye who pass by here? Oh no, it's something all right. Money. No fuss. No muss. No line. No PINs. Boom! We’ve got your money.

4. Cajole the folks into giving the church their bank routing numbers. Automatic, for the Lord.

5. There are, of course, apps for this. They are going to text in church anyway. ‘Text’ that tithe from your iphone, ipad, droid or whatever.

Or, tell them to just write a doggone check, take it with you to church, put it in an envelope, and when the offering plate is passed, drop it in the plate. And when they do that tell them that the act of giving is an important part of worship. Tell them that they give to the Lord because He has blessed them. Tell them to be happy, joyful when doing it. Tell them it is a time to rejoice, and participate in worship of God on the Lord’s Day by doing this.

App, schmapp. Kiosk schmiosk. Giving is worship. You love the Lord. You want to worship. So find a way to worship by giving when the congregation meets and those ancient offering plates are passed. It's not just about the money or the convenience.

Hope this helps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The offering was the focus of worship in the OT. The in worship service offering time should be a reflection time on God's offering for us. Since the "offering envelope" came into being in SS, the "offering" has become secondary at best.

Since retiring, the Mrs. and I have actually gone to a credit card offering charged automatically each month. We are gone many Sunday's for various reasons and it is convenient for both us and the church. In my mind I know it satisfies both the giving need and the churches need, but in my heart I miss the feeling that actually giving an offering brings.