Electronic giving is here to stay, and growing every day

Dec. 29, 2016 | by Ronald Keener

It’s Christmas Day evening as I write this. Gifts were shared and opened as usual, and I am reminded that big gifts come in small packages (too often repeated to know to whom it might be attributed).

And I have finished reading a small book/gift (a mere 90 pages) that has great importance to every church in the country—including yours. The eGiving Guide for Every Church: Using Digital Tools to Grow Ministry (Abingdon Press, 2016) by Richard Rogers. (No, not the music man of years gone by, but a senior ministry strategist with Horizons Stewardship, an authority on electronic giving, and an accomplished skier, as you will learn when you read the book.)

And read it you must. Are you among the church leaders who speak those oft-repeated phrases like “Our young people won’t give to the church,” or “We’re not ready for such new-fangled giving devices,” or “That’s too much change for the older folks in our church?”

How do I know? Because as board chair at our congregation the last two years I asked the finance team twice to evaluate the use of electronic giving, and they said we weren’t ready for it. I have to admit that they were not well prepared to make a truly independent and educational evaluation of that kind.

But the small book by Rogers responds to those kinds of doubts and obstacles, and in several other ways prepares a church committee to work its way through this particular concern.

So many churches feel like there is just one way to take up an offering: “In many cases they act almost like Jesus said you cannot take up any offering if it does not come from a brass plate, passed during the middle of worship, and then brought down a center aisle to be placed on the altar,” the book says in the introduction. It is as if “no other offering [taken up in some different way] will be blessed or used for kingdom work.”

And that is the whole point of the book. There is so much work to be done in being a Great Commission church, and congregations are not using all available avenues of receiving the gifts of their members to fulfill their ministry and mission—including the 21st century method of electronic giving.

I am reminded of a commercial on TV where a father and son are talking about some financial matter and the young man asks a pointed question of his dad who responds: “That’s just not the way the world works.” An obvious generation gap is at play here.

And the young man responds bravely, but carefully, “Well, the world is changing.” How far behind are churches today from the rest of the worlds of finance, stewardship, business, planning, and you name it? The issue so often is not a lack of ideas and of vision and of creativity in churches. It is a lack of resources, and today’s world offers more than the one way of enabling church members to support causes near to their hearts.

Says Rogers: “I have yet to meet a pastor who enjoys raising money, but every single one of them understands that money equals ministry. Many churches have God-sized plans and dreams to have an impact in their neighborhood, city, state, and world. What most of them lack are sufficient resources to pursue those plans and dreams.”

This small book speaks in clear language why electronic giving is needed to fulfill God’s dream for his retail outlets, our churches. You might buy several for members of your finance or stewardship team to study. Don’t do what my church has had to do. After two years with a budget plateaued at the same level, they had to lower that amount by $5,000 going into the 2017 year, for lack of funding their vision and hopes of ministry.

Topics: Book Reviews, Finances & Fundraising, Leadership, Technology, Vision

Ronald Keener
Ronald E. Keener was editor of the national business and leadership magazine, "Church Executive," for eight years, and writes from Chambersburg, Pa.

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