The Offering As Worship In An Electronic Age
August 23, 2011
Updated February 27, 2014
5 comments 192 views
A lot has changed in worship since technology entered the scene. Some of it has been really overt whereas other changes have been more low-key, like in the case of offerings being received. Automatic contributions are becoming increasingly common among our congregations. This is a really cool thing - it encourages firstfruits giving, requires that we thoughtfully decide how much to give and can make church budget planning easier.
In our congregation we have PAR (Pre-Authorized Remittance, which Sheri Laninga does great at explaining here). A couple weeks ago as the offering plate was passing me by, I started wondering - is this a meaningful part of the service for those who are giving through electronic means?
I know that we, as deacons, realize that the offering is not a “collection” but rather an act of worship. For this reason I believe it’s important to be thinking about how this part of worship may need to be adjusted to intentionally include those giving through PAR.
One way might be to take advantage of the “giving cards” which the PAR program provides (upon request by e-mail at [email protected]). These “giving cards” allow folks who have already given electronically to symbolically participate in the act of giving in worship, as a model for others (ie. children and newcomers), and may mitigate the fear of judgement from others should we not put something in the plate.
Joy Engelsman (our Worship guide) had some great thoughts about this (see her comment on Sheri's blog). She suggested that the prayer of thanksgiving include specific thanks for those who gave during the week through an electronic transfer and that perhaps the deacons should encourage members to pray when they note the transfer in their accounts.
What do you think? How is your church including people who give electronically in the offering worship? What can we do to keep automatic giving from becoming thoughtless?
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A good subject for discussion. I think regular giving is necessary, and likely helps stimulate more generous support than just when someone is moved to do so. But it should not replace regular offerings for thankfulness, special needs, etc.
As an aside, please don't use acronyms like PAR, without their meaning in brackets at first use. I had never heard of this acronym or the full term before, and it irritated me as I read this useful article.
Fred, thank you for alerting me to the PAR oversight. I have corrected it to prevent future confusion (or irritation)!
What a great and helpful response. Thanks for your attention.
If you encourage giving through a smart phone during the service then people still feel like they are participating in worship. The act of participation is still in effect if you encourage giving for those that are not likely to remember to put money in the offering plate. If you set up an account with PayPal and connect it to your back account, debit card or PayPal account then any smart phone will act as a wallet during the service. If the minister then takes out his/her own smart phone during the offering and shows the congregation that it only takes a few seconds to make a donation than people will respond quickly. Options are not an option anymore. Our church has a lot of people under 40 and most of them have a smart phone. In 5 years I predict that you will see a dramatic increase in electronic giving during the service. Making an actual donation is better than putting a card in the plate from a previous donation. A cheque or an electronic donation from the pew is better than a card that only signifies a donation.
I hadn't even thought of PayPal, or using smart phones! What an interesting idea, and with the growing number of users, you're right that this type of electronic giving may increase. Your comment actually sent me to another blog of Sheri's which talked more in depth about the options available. http://network.crcna.org/content/church-administration/no-more-checkbooks
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