Online giving increasing among church giving options

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Warren Baptist Church in Augusta has tablets as well as standing kiosks to make giving as convenient as possible … as well as passing the offering plate for more traditional givers. JOHN BRYAN/Special

According to a survey on online giving, the number of American churches hosting online or website giving options has increased from less than one-third to almost 80% just within the last decade. This month’s podcast for Leading Generosity explores the role recent technology plays in generosity within the local church.

State Missionary Buck Burch interviewed Dave Anderson of for the podcast. Anderson is a member of Warren Baptist Church in Augusta. His website can be viewed here.

Tablet giving competes equally well with self-standing kiosks. JOHN BRYAN/Special

“Saved as a teenager, Anderson developed a ministry in church finances over the years. He believes his calling is to help churches develop a culture of generosity, because ‘giving is essential to spiritual formations.’” he told Burch.

In the podcast, Anderson states that “financial giving is the most significant and most tangible of the spiritual disciplines.” Therefore, part of his ministry is to help churches by giving them an assessment which leads to questions and topics for review, an onsite series of meetings with staff and lay leaders to discover the culture of the church, and an individualized report with recommendations for increasing giving and discipleship.

Anderson believes the pastor is the primary catalyst for developing the spiritual formations of the church in leading by example. “I’ve seen many churches that are not generous but may have a generous pastor, but I’ve never seen a generous church that was not led by a generous pastor,” he said. And part of this leadership of generosity involves helping the church properly transition to modern technology.

Recent technology has created a culture shift in our society, Burch noted and Anderson affirmed. The financial giving businessman noted that these technological changes have affected the way churches experience giving as well.

“It has allowed us to open additional avenues for giving,” Anderson noted. Twenty years ago, there was no electronic giving. But today, most people no longer write checks for their everyday transactions. Most have rejected checking in favor of electronic platforms for paying their other bills, so Anderson believes that the church should respond by opening other avenues for giving.

A full-fledged kiosk is a popular way to support the Augusta church’s budget as well as provide other ministry giving options. JOHN BRYAN/Special

“Not closing down the old avenues, but opening new avenues as well is a positive thing,” he stressed.

These changes have not been without some avoidance or hesitation. Anderson meets churches and pastors who sometimes have two hurdles. One is a philosophical or theological hurdle, in that they believe online giving may cheapen the act of worship in giving. The other hurdle is the introduction of electronic giving options but doing so “in stealth mode” by not advertising or taking the time to normalize it for the church.

Anderson acknowledges there are potential issues that necessitate caution, such as examples in the business world of breaches in data security. However, he stated, “I have yet to hear about that in the world of giving.”

There is the issue of cost; there are fees associated with hosting online giving. There is also the issue of responsibility in giving through credit cards. But regardless of these issues, Anderson makes a theological point: “If we all agree that giving is essential to spiritual formations, our goal as pastors is to make it as easy as possible for church members to give whenever and wherever they want.”

Anderson will be a part of the Stewardship breakout sessions at Go Georgia: A Total Leadership Training Event this year on August 17-18, 2018 at Turning Point at Mabel White Baptist Church in Macon. For more information about Go Georgia, click here and for the aforementioned podcast on Leading Generosity, click here.

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