Electronic giving catching on among Ky. congregations

Originally published on Western Recorder – http://www.westernrecorder.org/114.article

Louisville—As bills are increasingly paid online, more banking transactions done via the internet, and direct deposit becoming the norm, Baptist churches across the state are beginning to embrace the times and offer an alternate way to give tithes and offerings.

“I think churches are going to have to realize that we have to change with society, and that is where we are headed,” Mike Williams, associate pastor/administrator at Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah, said.

Through the company SecureGive, Immanuel Baptist Church of Lexington uses an app, online giving and provides a kiosk in the church’s foyer, said David Bourne, church administrator. Recently, they implemented the “text-to-give” system.

Various other programs are available for electronic tithing including SecureGive, EasyTithe, E-giving and more.

Bourne compared the system to any online bill payment system, saying that it was “simple and easy to use.” Additionally, the electronic tither can set his/her giving to be reoccurring.

Immanuel has been using electronic giving for around seven years. In the last three years, their online giving has jumped from amounting to 10 percent of their offerings to 22 percent now.

Living Waters Community Church in Oak Grove utilizes a kiosk that they call the “Donation Station” along with their online system. Many of their younger members are “more comfortable” with it, Pastor David Corum said.

“The more options are made available, the better. We are creating an atmosphere where giving is the norm,” Corum added.

Lone Oak First Baptist noted that their first-time givers are using the system more and the dollar amount that comes in through electronic giving is increasing.

Troy Richards, pastor of East Hartford Baptist Church said that not only has online giving seen an increase in the last two years, but also that it has helped with consistency in giving.

Many times people cannot attend because of vacations or work obligations. This provides them a way to give when they cannot be physically present, Richards noted.

“I see less and less people writing checks. We are trying to make sure that we stay on top of that so it doesn’t hurt the giving in our church,” Richards said.

Churches are promoting electronic giving through social media, weekly bulletins, newsletters and reminders from the pulpit. Immanuel uses personal testimonies during the offering time and has put together videos showing their congregation how to use the system.

Another way the electronic system is productive is with payments. Immanuel has their system set up to take payments for mission trips, youth trips and even for its preschool program.

Immanuel member David Rose uses the app to pay for his children’s mission trips because it is “convenient.”

Electronic giving will be “at the heart” of Concord Baptist Church in Hopkinsville’s upcoming stewardship campaign, according to Pastor Dennis Wilder.

“E-giving makes it easy for anyone who does online banking to have their tithes electronically debited from their bank account on a specific day each month or week. So even if they are away, for whatever reason, they can keep their commitment they made to God,” Wilder said.

“Our pastor said it great when he said, ‘When God prompts someone to give, we want to make sure there is every way possible and it’s available to give,'” Bourne said.

“If my son is sitting in the church service and God prompts him to give, I guarantee you he doesn’t have a checkbook with him, but he will have a debit card,” he added.

Other churches also are finding that millennials are the ones that this system is being of the most value.

“We feel we have given our millennials an opportunity to give in a manner that fits their lifestyle,” Bill Edmonds, member at Jeffersontown Baptist Church, said. Jeffersontown Baptist began their electronic giving program in July, and it has continued to grow, Edmonds said.

Williams added, “We began to do this because we started hearing requests from church membership. We have had young couples say they don’t even know where their checkbook is. They don’t even use a checkbook. I really think the day of envelopes and checks and cash giving is going to go by the wayside at some point.

“We’ve got to move along with the times and offer people the opportunity to give conveniently.” (WR)

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