Is passing the church offering plate necessary anymore? It’s important to teach people to be generous (their maturity depends on it), but we need to do it in a way that makes sense. At eChurch, we’re helping churches transition to mobile giving. Churches are already discovering how mobile can revitalize their giving. It prepares them for what appears to be an inevitable change in how people care for their finances.
10 Reasons You Can Skip the Church Offering Plate
1. It Reinforces Negative Stereotypes
One of the most common criticisms of the church is that “it’s only after your money.” While this opinion is bolstered by lots of stories of misused and abused finances in the church, it’s not helped by taking offering.
Church offering is a ten-minute window in every single church service. It focuses on people putting money and checks into plates, baskets, and bags passed around the sanctuary. It’s a strange tradition that people outside of the church don’t really understand. It feeds their suspicion that religion is a scam intended to separate people from their cash.
How mobile giving solves this: When you train people to give through mobile devices, online, or through giving kiosks, you’re removing a cultural element that people associate with hucksterism and profiteering. It enables you to keep the focus on Jesus where it belongs.
2. Visitors feel awkward
Maybe you have a visitor that doesn’t really associate church offering plates with anything negative. We’re so used to the process, we don’t really think about how weird that is.
If you’re visiting a church for the first time, it’s hard not to feel like every eye’s on you. You start panicking and thinking “Do I have any cash on me!? I know that I don’t have any checks on me. Oh no, here he comes, WHAT DO I DO!?”
How mobile giving solves this: Having people give privately through their mobile device doesn’t put the visitor through the hassle of wondering if they’re expected to pay to listen to this sermon or not.
3. Members feel awkward, too!
Let’s be honest. Passing the church offering plate makes regular attendees feel awkward, too. I give regularly once a month. Every time the plate passes in front of me, I’m self-conscious that the usher and people around me think that I never give.
And what about the people who haven’t made a commitment to become givers yet? Sometimes it’s like the offering is designed to make non-givers feel guilty about convictions they don’t feel yet. Whether we’re willing to admit or not, passing the church offering plate seems to operate as compulsion to give. Paul warns us about it (1 Cor. 9:7).
How mobile giving solves this: There’s no reason that regular givers have to feel unpleasant with the public method the church uses to collect funds. We don’t want to motivate others with guilt. Mobile giving eliminates both issues.
4. It’s not a secure way to handle cash
There are always security issues with handling cash and checks. There’s a handful of people who have to count it together, and then it’s put in the safe. Then the treasurer has to come and re-handle it, and then deposit it.
How mobile giving solves this: Any method that automates the transfer of funds from one account to another is going to solve this problem. That includes direct deposits, text-to-give, kiosks, and mobile giving. The nice thing is about these methods is anyone can contest them with their bank if they feel there’s a discrepancy. That’s not the case with cash.
5. It’s not a biblical practice
We’re in danger of assuming that passing the church offering plate is biblically prescribed. It’s not. I guess if we really want to follow a scriptural practice, everyone can take their cash and checks and bring them to the podium and lay them at the pastor’s feet (Acts 4:35). No one wants to do that.