Change and Online Giving
I am not a big fan of change. I hate it when my favorite TV show is cancelled (please ABC, don’t cancel “Nashville”!). Sometimes sticking with what I know is a good thing because it makes me feel secure (Bruce Springsteen will never retire, right?), but more often, it keeps me stuck and missing out on something much better than I ever thought possible.
So, let me reiterate, change is hard. According to a new study by the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving and reported on in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, “Eighty-eight percent of churches with congregation members who were 35 or younger increased donations in 2011, while only 60 percent of those with members who were mostly 55 or older did so. One reason for the increases, especially among young people, is that two-thirds of the congregations say they offer online-giving options” (emphasis added).
“Online-giving” gives people the option, through their home computer, to tithe via credit card, PayPal, or automatic bank deductions. Not offering online giving means:
• You are not reaching out to those who are “younger” in your congregation (35 or under)
• You are stuck in one “acceptable” mode of giving (passing the plate)
• You appear to “outsiders” that you are unwilling to change to meet the needs of a younger generation (so why come to your church in the first place?)
Clearly, this does not necessarily indicate that if you offer online giving younger people will flock to your church. But it will signal to them that you know that this is how they (as well as many old-fogies) like to give on a regular basis. And, surprise, they may even do so in a worshipful manner. It is a legitimate way of giving.
If online giving is even remotely possible (i.e., you have a website), find someone in your congregation this week who will research the topic. Set a deadline for when you will make a decision as to whether or not you will offer this as an option. And, if you decide to take the plunge, do it.
Online giving or change for change’s sake is not a magic solution to a church’s problems but it can signal a desire to do things differently and a willingness to reach out to all of God’s people…no matter their age.
In light of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, here is a link to the article I wrote soon after the Newtown shootings: “Generosity Even in the Face of Grief”
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a tribute to Gordon Cosby. This past Sunday, there was a lovely piece about him on NPR.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.