Friday, November 11, 2005

Did You Know?

John Voorhis alerted me to this article on 20 Financial Facts Churches Should Know. Click here to read.


Blogger pduggie said...

That was interesting. I commented on a few of them on my blog.

Should churches *expect* to get bequeathments in wills?

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really wish you could tithe by autopay or whatever it's called. I tithe predominently to missionaries because it's predictable, it happens automatically and I can control it. I have no debt, I spend less then I earn. But I am so overwhelmed by everything that I'm writing checks from 8 checkbooks, if I can even find one of them, haven't seen the title envelopes since the day I became a member, and I can't produce bills if I didn't pay them online. I guess I have larger spiritual/ financial problems. But I'm so out of my depth when it comes to things like knowing where the title to my car is I have given up hope. I can use the internet, so its the onlyway I give money. It's so horrible.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Chuck Boyce said...

I've posted here before that Redeemer Presbyterian (Tim Keller's church) now has online giving.

Another member replied to my post that offerings should be part of worship, and I agree with that.

I think online giving should only be supplemental.

I'm sure Redeemer considered these things. I'd be interested to hear Tim keller blog about this.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was going to post a comment about online giving at the inception of the blog, but I didn't. I couldn't agree more that online giving should be a mainline option, and far from merely supplemental. In my opinion this represents an appropriate response to the gifts and resources God has given to us for the work of His kingdom in this present age. Moreover, there may be significant costs associated with forgoing such an option, but even greater benefits in the form of more giving - giving in the morning, giving in the afternoon, giving in the evening and the latest hours of the night; giving during thunder storms, snow storms, and at 3 AM when you're not presentable enough to go outside but if only you could you would love to give to the church.

Although a no-fee service would be best of course, I would even be glad to see a PayPal or similar option rather than none at all.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous JohnV said...

I would think that the online giving is geared more to those not local to Redeemer, but familiar with its ministries to donate - for example I know of people that are not members of Tenth who nevertheless still support Tenth ministries and programs. It's a good option for those who have found us through the ELW broadcast or SermonAudio, and are supporting a favored ministry vs. tithing (I draw a distinction).

11:27 PM  
Anonymous lmsalim said...

offerings are a form of worship, but we are called to worship the Lord at all times, not simply on sundays. sundays are for communal worship, and monetary giving is individual/family. so i don't see a problem with having online giving.

personally, i don't write checks anymore, except for offerings and rent. everything else is by debit (i don't own a credit card), so i don't even carry cash anymore. i've thought (tongue-in-cheek) on sundays i couldn't find my checkbook that tenth could have a debit cardswipe and keypad in the lobby for entering offering (how high-tech would that be?)

i wonder's if there is a biblical argument against this. if so, i'll happily change my mind.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the 8:32 PM "anonymous" poster here and I live very close to Tenth. Let me assure you that in these busy modern times the thought of having to dig out a check book for a narrow window of opportunity of in person giving carries serious disincentives, and I don't do it. I only place cash here and there in some of the boxes. It goes without saying that mailing a check, with all the extra work that implies, is almost unthinkable.

The only check I ever write is for rent in a large high rise, and if they had the option I would pay online. Apparently some such buildings have seen the light and have been offering that already. Every other bill I pay is done online. Yes, welcome to the 21st century - God's 21st century, that is.

Now those of us who live in rented apartments might not necessarily want our checkbooks sitting around easily accessible, but may keep them in a locked cabinet or something like that. Even in the best high rises (and I live in a good one that's well known) you never know when building staff or a contractor might need to come in without notice while you’re out. Getting the checkbook even for the rent is very inconvenient.

Believe it or not, not every one who goes to Tenth is as hale and hearty as what so many appear to be, and the mere act of having to dig out a check book, clear a space to write a check and put it back could be an unpleasant prospect just from the standpoint of the physical actions and time involved. Some of us are quite "wiped out" after a day at the office, some of us may have slight or moderate physical challenges, etc. This may be hard for some to realize, but it’s true. Not everyone lives in a large house or apartment with abundant desk or table space as well, and not everyone has a wife that will take care of such things.

This very moment as I type this blog post, I'm sitting at a large table that I use for a desk in my expensive rented apartment. It has a computer cpu on the right side, a monitor, all-in-one-printer, broadband modem, various cables, papers, speakers, etc., taking up the space (approximately 5' by 2.5'). I haven't showered yet and "it shows." I have no shirt on, and am wearing only the sweat pants that I slept in and untied black sneakers used as a type of "slipper." If I wanted to get my checkbook, first I would have to access a locked box, then I would have to lift up the keyboard to make room to write a check, or hope that my kitchen counter wasn’t completely taken up. As one can readily imagine, if I wanted to saunter over to Tenth to give money, that would not be an option. But guess what? The connection lights on the modem are lit, and if I wanted to give money while at home in this "condition" I could do it easily and quickly - if only the option existed. Moreover, if I desire to give more than usual and have the means to do so, that desire may not necessarily be there this coming Tuesday afternoon, and the money may not be there as well.

As mentioned above, this is God’s 21st century. I believe we must embrace the technology and resources He has provided, and there may be needless lost opportunity and cost associated with neglect.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not opposed to online giving per se, but I am troubled by excuses for not writing a check. My dry cleaner accepts cash only. I pay her. When I rented my apartment, my landlord accepted check only. I paid him. When I go to certain restaurants that accept cash only, I go to the ATM first. I pay most of my other bills online, but I still write a check to Tenth every week. (while working a full time job, a part time job, and going to school part time) Yes it takes some effort, but it's worth it.

God tells the Israelites in Malachi 3:10 to "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house." Bringing in the food after a whole week of farm labor must have taken more work and planning than our check writing today does.

If writing a check is that burdensome, then how does serving the church make us feel? Are we too tired from our work to serve in the nursery, feed the homeless, attend Bible study, or encourage our brethren? If it is too difficult to get dressed to bring a check over on a Tuesday afternoon, then how do we feel about getting dressed on a Sunday when we could otherwise sleep in or "do our own thing?"

This is a symptom of a greater spiritual problem. If we become a church of online givers, will we still function as a church? Or will we sit in bed on Sundays, too tired from our other persuits, listening to the streaming audio of Dr. Ryken's sermons and clicking "donate" on the Tenth web page, knowing one another only by our email addresses?

Giving is a part of worship. Worship is a part of church life. Church life is corporate. Giving should not be ordered around individual convenience, but as a corporate veneration of our body's Head.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am troubled, too, by those with the strength to work two jobs and attend school part time being capable of referring to what others face in life with terms such as “excuses” and “individual convenience.” This is one of the great spiritual problems of so many people so endowed – the absence of empathy, the ability to stand inside another’s shoes. If even for one such as that “it takes some effort,” one might perhaps try to imagine what it’s like for others for whom it’s a struggle just to get through the week with only one job.

The church should not be compared to the proprietor of a dry cleaning business, nor a landlord, and such analogies do not legitimately apply.

The New Testament church, and particularly the 21st century Philadelphia region, is not the ancient state of Israel, either. Paul spoke more recently than Malachi as well, and his words most surely do not preclude this option for giving.

Recently Phil Ryken wrote about how he gave a single dollar in the offering plate at church, while his wife took care of the main gift. This is great, and people can do similarly if they desire. What was the result of this? Phil engaged in his cherished act of worship, and more money was given than normally would have been.

Surely no one is seeking to deprive the church of the offering time as has been practiced for years, but wise and proper options in the context of our age are eagerly sought which may also result in greater giving, and perhaps even less work for the church with respect to the labor required to process checks. That time could then be allocated elsewhere. Win-win-win.

Each person has his or her gifts and strength from God, and providing the means to give to the church via God’s internet, over His telephone lines and His digital cabling, in no way necessarily induces a slippery slope of spiritual sloth and isolationism. The able will still congregate. They will still serve in the nursery, still feed the homeless, still seek the fellowship of the saints. Moreover, they will be all the more strengthened, streamlined, and encouraged – rather the opposite.

If we become a church of (optional) online givers, we will still function as a church. Corporate worship will continue. We will venerate God for this new avenue of worship – venerate Him in the morning, in the afternoon, the evening, and the latest hours of the night; finally, we will venerate Him together as we are able on Sunday when the offering plate arrives.

5:52 AM  
Blogger pduggie said...

Imsalim: Sundays are for communal worship, but giving is nothing if not communal. All the money goes in one plate.

Many Christian traditons (but not tenths) also bring the offerings in the plate forward and lift them up as a sign of their communal nature.

Maybe a 'solution' for those who are unable to keep on top of a check-based offering system, yet still meet the central criteria of the offering being an act of Lord's day worship activity would be something like that envisioned in the evening sermon yesterday: tithe by autopay, but bring some slip of paper with an ammount and put it in the plate.

Maybe that would also be a technical solution: autopay, but make the authorization to autopay be in the form of a paper given at the time of offering: "Please deduct $X from my account of record". Of course, that's pretty much like a check... But if you have the slips available at church then you don't have to do digging around the house.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, ok I was the first anonymous commenter, and what a deluge of comments, it's encouraging to know at least I'm not the only one. Obviously, the message last evening on costly worship puts to shame not being willing to take time and energy to prepare for an offering, and it's certainly something to prepare a heart for, like taking communion etc.
At the same time, I don't eat in restaurants where it's cash only, I ask first, I looked for an apartment, bank, electric etc where I could do it online because it was the only way I could cope emotionally with the stress, paperwork, anxiety, even panic, and also financial problems that came with my disorganizational skills. I know I have issues and I am working around them because I don't have the resources to deal with them.
So there is giving, the dump the contents of my wallet into the offering plate even though I know it's way less than the suggested tenth, and certainly not predictable, and then intentionally giving with prayer and joy to my missionaries, where I know that they won't miss my contribution because I'm flakey, I don't have panic attacks becuase I missed a deadline and I worry that someones going without something because I forgot to get the check out and I can just pray knowing that the really really painful excruciating part - the organization and execution - is taken care of for me.
I guess physical disability is one thing. But there are emotional things as well. I'm single, I have resources, I have time. It's easy for me to give time to the church. But coming home and dealing with running my own life is rough. Without accountability, or emotional support, or resources in any of the areas I am week, I'm trying to capitalize on what I have gifts in doing and try not to let the rest leave me in ruin.
I think the fact that those who feel incapable of getting a hard check out there also feel too uncomfortable identifying ourselves is also significant. I know if I ever told anyone I would get the "you're just making excuses nothing is too costly for God, maybe you should evaluate your commitment etc" my family has been saying this for years. I really need help outside myself, maybe there is a way for people like me to get support. Maybe Overcomers...

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the above anonymous poster:

Wow. It sounds like you are really overwhelmed. Take heart, the Lord does not intend for us to do these things alone. Maybe you should get in touch with a deacon and ask for help. There are many people with financial expertise in the church. (That's why they had that talent survey-- to connect people.) Having a guide and friend might really help you to feel better not just about tithing, but about all of your finances.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous JohnV said...

This is correct - the Diaconate has a Financial Counseling committee that may be able to help.

2:52 PM  

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