The coronavirus pandemic has been a wake-up call for the American church. The world is changing — and while truth does not change, and God does not change — our methods of ministry must change if we’re to remain effective in reaching our communities with the hope of Jesus Christ.
If your church does not already have the ability to accept gifts through an online platform, it’s time to jump into the 21st century. The responses of churches that do not have online giving options versus those that have practiced online giving for years have been markedly different in the early days of COVID-19. Of course, it’s too early to accurately evaluate what the long term impact will be, but the difference in average church receipts reported has been substantial.
Regardless of your church’s size, online giving must be a part of your stewardship plan. For churches that aren’t as familiar or comfortable with technology, online giving can seem frightening. But it’s really not as difficult as you might think. There are numerous companies that work with churches to establish online giving options. They can have you up and running in a matter of hours or days.
Below are several of the better-known platforms for churches. While the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina does not make recommendations of specific companies, all of the following have solid reputations and have proven to be excellent partners with churches in our state. Note that some start-up fees, transaction fees and fees per transaction may apply, but they are usually nominal.
These are certainly not all of the options for churches. The point is that now is the time to make a decision regarding online giving and move forward.
Churches should also encourage members who do not use the internet to see if their bank offers a bill pay service. In that case, the member can establish an amount to go directly to the church from their checking account each week or month as a recurring payment. Or members can be encouraged to mail a check to the church while services are suspended.
In the midst of the current crisis, we must continue to emphasize biblical stewardship. Yes, people are hurting financially, but statistics show that the average Southern Baptist church member gives less than 2% of their income to support charitable causes. Many spend more on internet, cable television and cell phone plans than they give to support the local church.
Remember that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and He hears the prayers of His people. He has chosen us to be His hands and feet to those who are in need. Look around – the needs are many and mostly obvious.
However, pray that God would open your eyes to the needs that are not always obvious — like the single mom struggling to put food on the table while stuck at home; the elderly neighbor who feels isolated or needs someone to run errands for them; the immigrant struggling to understand what is happening because of language barriers. You don’t have to look far, just look with the heart of Jesus.
Pray that God would use this unexpected crisis to stir the hearts of His people here in North Carolina to approach the “new normal” as a new opportunity for reaching the lost with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.