Just before we were all told to “shelter in place” recently, I had been accumulating some assessment tools to help churches evaluate their ministry effectiveness. One of the questions I ran into was, “What year is it in your church?”
As it turns out, that was a very pertinent question. Many churches are learning that technologically speaking, there was some ground to cover to make their practices and needs intersect in a healthy way.
During this time one of our very sharp deacons/treasurers in a growing country church contacted me to ask, “What are the best approaches to online giving?” I posted that question on Facebook and I wanted to take a few minutes to synthesize the answers I received. There was some very good input.
Use online Bill Pay. Sara said, “As a millennial (I hate to even call myself that), I use online bill pay so much that it seems to be the easiest option for me. Now is a great time for churches to push that as their first choice for tithes. There’s no charge to either party in most cases and you can set it up to pay on a set schedule. I think a lot of the time members just forget more than are greedy and don’t want to tithe. It takes that part away. Wouldn’t it be great to get your whole congregation set up on a tithe schedule?! Here’s an opportunity!
The easiest way would be a social media post with the churches name and address. You could also send an email. My second choice would be PayPal because I already use it so much. An app or third party web site is great but kind of a pain. It’s an added step I don’t think of doing to go to the church web site, look for a link, sign up, sign in, go find my debit card … That’s a lot for generations with no attention span. A PayPal link is super easy and all my info is there already. Bam. Done.”
Here is other feedback I got about various platforms for online giving in no certain order:
1. Lifeway Generosity – Even though Lifeway is currently offering free use for their digital giving service I have repeatedly been told that people are having difficulty when it comes to customer service inquiries.
2. Givelify – Max Rodgers, pastor at Northern Heights Baptist Church in Cordele, said, “We have started using www.givelify.com. It’s free and simple, three steps or less once you have initially entered your church and info. The rates are competitive – 2.9% per transaction and a flat $.30 transaction fee. Since providing this option our gifts have increased. The only downfall is that you can’t give a ‘check’ electronically.”
3. PayPal/Square up – George Pabst, pastor at Crossroads Church in Guyton, said, “We use PayPal for online and in person electronic giving. We used square up (www.squareup.com) for in-person and liked it but [they do] not [have] online website option. [It is the] same price for non-profits. I think 2.7% [with] no per item charge or monthly fee. The newest card reader can swipe or read chips.”
4. Stripe/Church Trac – Michelle Finch, Ministry Assistant at Oak Hill Baptist Church in Millen said, “We are using Stripe (www.Stripe.com) through Church Trac. We are pleased so far. We started using Church Trac in January. It is very user friendly.”
5. Securegive.com – Our friend Pastor Tim Tatum at Linden Church of God in Webster, Fla. is using this service. “Securegive uses four platforms: online, mobile, text and Kiosks. We are using the Online and Mobile options.”
6. EasyTithe.com – Marcus Burchfield, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Ripley, Tenn., said, “I followed and went with Easytithe. [It’s a] user friendly programming in my opinion.”
7. Giving.faithlife.com – Our friend Kevin Farmer, pastor of Highlands Baptist Church in Brooksville, Fla., said, “Faithlife Giving … works well with our website.” Holly Jenkins, treasurer at the Baptist Church at Ebenezer (Rincon) concurred, “I analyzed several options. PayPal, EasyTithe, PushPay, [and] Faithlife. Faithlife offered everything we needed at the lowest cost to our church. Our church size is the 100-150 range.”
8. Anedot.com – Tonya Shellnut, State Government Relations director at Alliance Defending Freedom, expressed caution about the way some platforms use information sharing and recommended Anedot specifically because they do not.
Finally, in a general sense … now is a great time to embrace useful technology. Sustaining healthy stewardship practices during these times is just one aspect of this. Many churches are finding that using video meeting technology, like Zoom to sustain small group connections, is vital. With the additional time that many are likely to experience during the month of April it may be helpful to examine the overall technological effectiveness of your church system at this time. I’m finding that there are some great and timely webinars available, many of them are being hosted by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board (gabaptist.org).