Thursday, September 27, 2007

AutoTithe

I was reading the blog of my friend David about Direct Deposit Tithing.  He commented on the prevalence of churches allowing people to auto pay the money to the church (tithe) instead of making them bring a check or cash in an envelope.

Automatic Tithing Machine Before his posts on this I also came across an article about how some churches are installing ATM like machines in the lobby to make giving easier.  That horrified me at first, now I just find it kind of disgusting and annoying.

In any case, at St. Matthew's our contemporary service doesn't take a collection.  Instead we do simply leave an offering plate at the back of the church.  We have also considered a way to directly withdraw from someone's account, though the companies we've seen add on some fees which don't really make much sense.  In many cases people who prefer to pay electronically have their banks automatically send a check.

As a family we still drop a check in the plate after church.  At the same time though, this is the only time during the month that we use cash or checks.  Everything else is directly deposited or checks are sent from the back.  If it were up to me, we'd be tithing to the church in the same way, but for some reason my wife prefers giving this way.  She and I both agree though that giving envelopes are a waste of paper and a horrible treatment of this ecosystem God gave us.

Where I have concerns come partly in the blessing of the money.  I'm not as concerned about that though, since the purpose to which the money is being used is supported by the church and furthers God's mission.  Essentially it's been blessed going out, so it doesn't need to be blessed coming in.  I also sometimes struggle with public blessings of offerings since it could be construed as us focusing on the money instead of the sacrifice.

More than that, I'm concerned that this does offer the opportunity for people to tithe dangerously.  People could begin paying for their tithe using their credit cards so they get more "points" or whatever.  This can easily lead to a credit card not paid off in time or tithing being seen as just another debt to incur.

Overall though, I'm a fan of direct paying.  You know the money is received successfully and no one needs to know if I give weekly, monthly or annually.

As the scripture points out, my tithe is my sacrifice for God.  No one else needs to know about it.

Peace,
+Tom

2 comments:

Cindy said...

Wow - ATMs machines? That seems...hmm... that would bother me.

I remember every January, we would pick up our envelope boxes, and you could see who hadn't picked theirs up.

I also thought it was weird, that the church would know who gave and how much they gave. So, if one week you forgot your envelope, but still gave, the church might think you didn't give.

I guess a direct transfer to the church is a good idea - since most banking these days is done that way. but, people might forget about it, or it might be a hassle to change the amount later on. I'm with Erin - I'm a cash person.

ThirstyTech said...

I think having your tithe come out of your account automatically is a perfectly fine option for those that prefer it. I personally lack better organization skills, and having to be at the church early for worship team practice and all the other events I seem to always be rushing around for, there is great comfort in knowing my sacrifice is deducted and submitted despite my flaws and sometimes absentmindedness.

As for the ATM, maybe that's a bit much, but a kiosk? That would be very efficient seeing that there's always some youth retreat or men's or women event to pay fees towards. Plus a kiosk can also provide non monetary transactions such as information, prayer submissions and also leverage whatever features are available on the church website.