Don’t be a Square! Use Technology and Creativity to Your Advantage
It’s not often that I get excited about something. OK, that’s a lie – I get excited about a lot of things. But rarely do I get excited about technology. Frankly, it scares me. There’s so much I don’t know, don’t care to know, and hope someone else will figure out for me. Can I get an “Amen”? That’s A-men, not Ah-men.
Yesterday, a great blog passed before my eyes. In case you haven’t signed up for it, I highly recommend Luther Seminary’s “Center for Stewardship Leaders” weekly e-newsletter. It comes out on Tuesdays and yesterday’s article was one of the best. “How to Give? However You Can,” was written by Rev. Dr. Katie Hays from Galileo Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Dallas-Ft. Worth.
The article grabbed my attention for a couple of reasons – she was recommending (among other things):
1. On-the-spot electronic giving and
2. Ways for people who don’t come to church with cash or checks to be involved in the corporate “passing of the plate.”
1. On-the-spot electronic giving. According to Rev. Hays, “During worship each Sunday, a volunteer pilots a ‘giving station’ where givers can slide their debit card through a Paypal scanner to donate directly from their bank account. (Paypal would obviously take credit cards, too, but we emphasize “debit cards” in our invitation to minimize our dependence on people’s credit card debt.)”
I am determined to overcome my fear of how this actually works. Lucky me, my go-to tech guy who has successfully implemented this concept is Rev. Brian Shimer from Westside UMC (OR). You may recall my blog about what his church was doing in “One New Way to Expand the Offering Plate.” He suggested that there are many, many places out there offering services:
Square, Vanco, E-Zekial, PayPal, and PushPay just to name a few.
Brian stated that the biggest concern expressed was surprisingly not about security but about the fees these businesses charge for their services (indicating how comfortable we’ve become with this technology). And yes, these businesses charge a percentage and/or a transaction fee. But, “you’re paying for the convenience and some people, as a result, are giving more regularly.” That’s good news. Go on line and watch some tutorials. Here’s one about Square. This will help overcome the anxiety associated with implementing on-the-spot electronic giving.
2. Ways to participate in the offering experience without cash or checks. Rev. Hays says,
“The baskets that we pass every Sunday do not, as you might imagine, collect a great deal of money in the moment. But we still pass them as a weekly ritual because we love the liturgical significance of compiling our small gifts into one large offering for the continuation of our life together -- the gifts of God for the people of God! To maintain the significance of the baskets and the gifts, our giving station offers several colorful, laminated cards that givers can put in the basket when it comes around at the end of the service.
One card says, ‘This week I shared with the church ELECTRONICALLY via Paypal, EFT, or billpay. Thanks be to God!’
Another says, ‘This week I shared with the church MY TIME AND ENERGY for our good work together. Thanks be to God!’
A third says, ‘This week I shared with the church MY HEART AND PRAYERS for our ongoing life together. Thanks be to God!’
And the last, my favorite: ‘This week I shared with the world IN AMAZING WAYS you haven’t even thought of yet. Thanks be to God!’”
What an awesome, easily implementable idea. I say, “Thanks be to God” for ways that make joyful giving easier and “Thanks be to God” for ways we can be more inclusive of all people. Don’t let fear of technology or fear of anything, for that matter, stand in your way of making your doors open wider and wider for all of God’s people to enter. Thanks be to God!
P.S. Bonus – here’s another thank you letter you might like to see. This comes from an organization I work with. The letter could easily be adapted to suit your needs.
P.P.S. Don’t forget to get back to me about the tithing questions – here they are again:
Should you even talk about the tithe? Is it relevant?
If you talk about the tithe do you mention giving 10% or do you leave it up to the giver?
Is the tithe on gross or net income? Or does it matter?
Is tithing only to the church or can it include donations to non-profits?
Have you ever tried being a “high expectation” church in relation to the tithe? How did that work out?
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She is working to overcome her fear of the Square, Twitter, and Instagram. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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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.