More and more people are carrying fewer checks and less cash these days. I used to make a special point of grabbing my checkbook each week to take it to church. Not anymore!
My church makes a big deal about giving. I am reminded about it during every Sunday service. I suspect your church has its way of promoting giving too, and for good reason. But how effective are those efforts? Let me paint a picture and see if resonates with you.
At a designated time, one of our leaders will take the stage and share a short topic on giving, then invite ushers to come to the front of the sanctuary. About eight people will then walk from the back all the way to the front of the room. We pause for prayer and ask for the Lord’s blessing. Then a musical number or worship set will play while these eight bag-carrying individuals steadily walk the aisles, passing the bags back and forth, collecting all the cash and check offerings. When they reach the back of the sanctuary the bags are collected. Occasionally, a straggler will get up and hurriedly follow the ushers in an effort to ensure their giving is collected, then return to their seat, hopefully before the preaching pastor gets up to begin the morning’s message. This whole process can take up to 10 minutes!
Does that sound familiar? At ECCU we process and settle offerings from a lot of churches each week that come in the form of checks, so I know it rings true with a lot of leaders. But let’s ask the question: How many checks to do people actually write each month? Let’s make it personal: How many checks do you write a month?
Our world of banking and payments has changed rapidly over the last few years. Checks may be better than carrying large amounts of cash, but they are cumbersome and are time-consuming to process. It starts with the offering time and ends in the ministry office, where the checks are individually counted, sorted, endorsed and prepared for delivery to the bank.
If this is your process, then you are actively promoting giving by check and cash every Sunday. But is that the way people are inclined to give today? We may not think of it in these terms, but when we pass a bag or plate, we are essentially telling people that cash or check are the ways we prefer to receive their gifts. By contrast, when they go to Starbucks, they use, and are encouraged to pay with a smartphone app.
If yours is like most churches, you have already adopted some form of electronic giving. But have you effectively promoted the option to the congregation? How long would it take to invite your people to pull out their cell phones and give to the church online? Far less than 10 minutes, that's for sure! By not promoting electronic giving, are you effectively eliminating the opportunity for your donors to give to your ministry? Statistics have shown that giving to ministries increases when electronic giving is promoted effectively.
My church offers guest Wi-Fi access in the sanctuary. This is a great avenue for me to give because I have bookmarked my church’s web address in my smartphone’s browser. I also created a donation profile, so with a few short clicks I can cheerfully give to my church.
Donations can be collected electronically for your ministry in various ways. I urge you to offer these payment options to your community. If you already have them in place, remember that communicating electronic giving options to our people is essential. You will get the form of giving that you promote, and electronic is the preferred way today.