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modernized-tithing-texting-kiosksAs the Church has progressed into the 21 Century, many of its functions have been modernized.  We have guest services instead of ushers. Our fellowship halls in the back of the buildings have become Café’s and lounges in the front of the Church. Our music has moved from Hymnals to Projectors. Yet with all the modernization the Church is going through, one thing remains etched in the stones of the past – Our systems of tithes and offerings.

Fewer People are carrying Cash or Checks

Fewer and fewer people in today’s society pay with cash or checks. We even find that Millennials are using credit cards at an all-time low, as well. This leads to a dilemma for Churches. How do we get people to give tithes and offerings, when their only choices of giving are cash, checks and sometimes credit cards?

Here are some surprising trends in Consumer Spending:

  • 2 out of 5 people carry less than $20 on their person (Bankrate)
  • 38% of consumers NEVER write checks. Another 20% only write a few per year (The Financial Brand)
  • 6 in 10 Millennials do not have a credit card (Washington Post)

These trends will eventually become a tipping point to where the tithe and offerings payment options offered do not reflect the payment methods people have with them while at Church.

A New Approach to Giving

It is true that people carry less cash, write fewer checks and carry less credit card debt, but there is one interesting fact. They all have money in a bank. The issue is the way they spend money. Their payment methods now consist of paying bills and buying goods online with a bank card.

Knowing this, we can create a system that capitalizes on the congregations ability to pay electronically. Better yet, we can make giving even more easier, increasing the revenues that come into our churches. Even better, giving doesn’t have to be done in a 5 minute devotional time in between Worship and preaching. It can be done at any time in the lobby or on their cell phones.

Part 1: SMS Text Messaging

Everyone has their smartphone in your service. A lot of them are using You Version to follow the message. Knowing they do mobile banking, why not offer them an easy way to tithe?

Enter www.kindrid.com. This service, and others like it, allows Churches to setup giving via Text Message. You have seen these in various forms, most notably the Red Cross. You have seen their advertisements for, “Text #XXXX to donate $10.”

With this solution, your Church sets up a giving number. You then include this number in bulletins or during announcements. People text the amount they want to give to the number and they are done. It is fast and simple for both the Church and the congregation.

Part 2: Congregation Based Giving Apps

Tablets are taking the World by storm. Combining these with smartphones, we can account for nearly every person attending a Worship service. We can make it as easy to give as creating an app that allows them to give right from their smartphone or tablet.

How do you create a giving app without spending a fortune to develop it? Well, there is an app for that. It’s called www.givelify.com. Givelify offers Churches a branded app for tithing and offerings. Pricing varies, but it is priced the way a credit card transaction is priced: example – 2.9% + $0.30 per donation. Users are used to this, since this is how paypal charges its fees.

The trick is getting people to download the app. The trick is to use QR codes. In your Worship service handouts and in announcements, place a QR code that leads to the app install. A simple click of the camera and the app is installed. From there, the user can give anytime he or she feels led.

Part 3: Giving Kiosks

Giving Kiosks are beginning to gain traction with Pastors. Why limit giving to the actual Church service, when you can allow people to give before and after service, as well? A giving kiosk will stand in the foyer area of the Church and provide visitors the easiest way possible to give their tithes and offerings.

They consist of three parts, an ipad, giving app and a stylish modern kiosk. SecureGive offers this as an all in one package. It can be seen at http://www.lilitab.com/pages/solutions.

SecureGive did a survey of Churches that used its services and found that giving increased by 27%. The study also found that the offerings given on the kiosk were 20% higher than non-kiosk giving.

With these applications in place, Churches can encourage giving from the front of the Church to the back of the Church. Thanks to technology, not only can we make giving easier, we can do it in an affordable manner.  All of the solutions mentioned are cost effective and provide a very low barrier of entry so that every Church can get in and test these new ways of giving.

 

Visual communications is simply taking over.  We’re moving away from text to more images, more video and more photography to tell the story when we communicate on the web, mobile and offline.

What’s one tactic that you already know about, but probably really haven’t integrated into your communications streams for your organization?  I’m betting infographics is one of them.

Infographics are popular because they attract attention and people actually pause and take a look at them.  Check out this recent infographic as an example:
Churches-and-Social-Media

 

So how do you go about venturing into the infographics world?

Check out this quick hit list of 10 infographic resources (free!) for your first one:

  1. Free Vector Infographic Kit – 50 basic vector infographic elements from MediaLoot — free. You should download.

  2. easel.ly – Create infographics online – beta is free.  NICE service.

  3. Infogr.am – Create interactive charts and infographics.

  4. iCharts – Charts online.

  5. Gliffy – Flowchart, org chart, diagrams, charting software.

  6. Hohli – basic 3-d charts.

  7. Gephi – Open source data visualization

  8. Tableau Public – Free site – charts-friendly

  9. Prefuse – Information visualization software.

  10. Many Eyes – data-heavy visualizations

Have you created infographics for your ministry communications – external or internal?  Please drop a link to your infographics in the comment section below!

This is one of the silliest TED.com videos ever.

But it’s one of the most impactful ever because it is so dead-simple, yet it works.

Get ready to repeat these two magical words as you watch the video:

SHAKE

FOLD

I love the reasoning for shaking 12 times. Why 12? Because the number 12 —  is the biggest number with just one syllable. HA!

The best part?  It really really works!  It’s kind of amazing that you can get dry hands with just one sheet of paper towel.

It’s mind boggling that if we can get down to 1 towel per person over the course of a year = 571,230,000 lbs of paper saved.  Wow.

Will you try the SHAKE & FOLD yourself?  Please let me know by dropping a quick comment below.

 

Whenever I am doing exegetical work on Scripture passages, it becomes painfully aware how short my bookshelves are in length.  It makes you want to go to one of those massive theological book sales and buy out the whole place – especially when books are only $5/all you can fit into a box.  But I wouldn’t even have a place for all those books to live in my home library.

The other alternative is to repeat the back and forth and back and forth to the library where they house complete collections of commentary series, Bible encyclopedias and dictionaries.   But sometimes you find yourself playing hide and seek when you find that the one volume you need is missing from the shelf – either being used by someone, or waiting in a lonely corner of the library, waiting to be picked up and re-shelved.

digital-bible-resourcesI recently decided to take the Google-generation approach to initial research and have tried out the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary on CD-ROM (yes people, software is still published on CD-ROMs in some parts of this world).

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. . . Continue Reading…

This year, I launched a simple 1-step Bible look-up web app, http://wordof.gd/

This neat little shortcut service allows you to go straight to any Bible text and the specific translation you want right from the browser URL line.

It also allows you to confidently create shortcut url links to any specific passage you want that you can write on the fly for email, twitter, facebook, etc.

Think: Bible links for social media.

Currently the WordOf.Gd supports over 30 different translations including a Spanish version of the Bible.   Just add any bible verse(s) after wordof.gd/_______ and if you want a specific translation, just put the translation abbreviation at the end.

wordofgd-how-to

Because pastors and seminary students are often trying to reference and compare any Old Testament text to the original Hebrew language.  Someone recently commented it would be nice if you could pull up both English and Hebrew texts on the same page to compare using wordof.gd. . . Just like an interlinear bible you would pull off the shelf in hardcopy.

Ok, we can do that!

Continue Reading…

Church “Marketing” gets a bad rap sometimes.

Why? Because when you hear the term, people might immediately think of the over commercialization, almost crass marketing tactics that some churches are using to get attention. Yes it is a fight to grab attention in this media-frenzied world today.

But the answer is not to reduce it all down to “productizing Jesus.” Nor is it running your ministry with the ultimate objective and measure of success to be church services that mimic a Superbowl half-time show.

In my own humble opinion, using marketing tactics to support the Gospel is entirely different than using the Gospel to support your marketing tactics.

Those that know me personally understand that this is NOT what I mean of being a Godvertiser:

Godvertising and church marketing should serve a clearly different purpose — not the marketing or event itself. But rather to put God and His work on display.

Want the best litmus test to know where you stand? As soon as you think “look at me!” vs. “look at Him!”, you’ve crossed the line.

John Piper does it. Tim Keller does it.

The question is, can every other preacher do it?

Great preaching is just one of those things where you know you’re looking at it when you see it.

But the question is can great preaching include illustrations that are more than literary depictions put forth with the vocal chords?

John Piper doesn’t think so!

It may not get you into hell, ‘in the short run’ says Piper as noted by some that follow his teaching on preaching. He says it is a crutch for the lazy in the pulpit. Just listen to his argument against using movie or other video clips as supporting sermon illustrations . . . Continue Reading…

Most people have probably heard of Kierkegaard, but who has actually read him?

The only “Danish” most people have experience with is usually. . .

danish

… a danish!  Right?

Apparently, more people need to read the other Danish…philosopher Kierkegaard, based on some of his quips I was reminded of by Pastor TK over at Liquid Church: Continue Reading…

I recently had a chance to catch-up with Paul Kind in the thick of graduate work in theology at Princeton Seminary.  Because PTS is known for how the theological musings of Barth is found percolating throughout its campus, I asked Paul for his take so far on the timeless theologian of 20th century times.

karl-barth-time-magazine-coverIt’s noteworthy that Barth’s marquee work, Church Dogmatics has “CHURCH” in its title. For me, this quote rings true for how we are to elevate and yet connect theology to the work of the Church:

No single item of Christian doctrine is legitimately grounded, or rightly developed or expounded, unless it can of itself be understood and explained as part of the responsibility laid upon the hearing and teaching Church towards the self-revelation of God attested in Holy Scripture.
~ Karl Barth

Paul provides some great insights that whets the appetite for more Barth. Luckily for us all, there are literally millions of more words to consume if this suits your taste. . .



Many have said that Karl Barth was the foremost theologian of the 20th century. While holding academic posts in Germany and Switzerland, Barth published his fourteen volume Church Dogmatics over the course of about thirty years.

In his book, Disruptive Grace, Dr. George Hunsinger, describes the impact of this work in saying, Continue Reading…

This weekend is a notable one.

April 26, 2009 is a day when ministry websites all over the world are working together to further the digital gospel.

If you have a church or ministry website, it’s worth the click to jump over to the Internet Evangelism Day website and grab some free tools for your own site.

internet-evangelism-day1