Archives For Church

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.

 

church technology blogs

Continue Reading…

I’m excited because this month at Liquid Church we are launching a massive campaign to get up to 3,000 people to read the entire New Testament Bible in 40 days all together as a community.

If you aren’t aware of some of the trends going on with Bible engagement and churches today, take a look at the infographic I pulled together to help share the situation in the Church:

 

Bible Engagement Trends

 

So for 40 days leading up to Easter, we will be reading the Bible in 225 small groups across New Jersey. We even have several church online groups forming so that our community of online worshippers can participate with us. All the details are available at www.40daybiblechallenge.com

Bible reading campaign

 

The program is being put together in collaboration with Biblica, who is the copyright holder of the NIV Bible. We have been able to produce thousands of custom printed Bibles for our campaign through their Community Bible Experience. With Biblica’s help, we’ve also been able to make it available in PDF, Kindle, ePub, and audio formats. In addition, we’ve produced a spanish translation as well as kids versions of the daily bible readings. We’ve got iTunes podcasts. We also have links to the YouVersion reading plan available for your smart phone. And to top it off, we have a daily email devotional that will be sent out every day to keep everyone encouraged and on track. There you go, no excuse NOT to read it with us.

I’m excited to see what happens when our entire community is in sync reading the same portions of text weekly over the next 8 weeks. What is been surprising is the enthusiasm people have shown to sign-up to read together. You would think in today’s day and age that reading the entire NT Bible wouldn’t be a huge draw. But by doing it together, it has brought out the best participation and energy we have seen in awhile.

Have you ever read the Bible together with your entire church? How did it go?

Today, we hear from guest blogger Pastor Ryan of Central Baptist Church in Ohio. He chimes in on how we all have a choice in building assets or liabilities for the Church.


Last week, I saw on the local news and then read about a church around Columbus, OH, who is involved in an ongoing battle of protesting with a strip club.  The short version: this church has been protesting outside the strip club for several years now, even to the extent of photographing club goers and their license plates and posting online.  Now, the dancers from that club are protesting outside of the church on Sunday mornings.  It appears that both parties are stubborn and are not going to stop anytime soon.

Recently, the big news was about the church in Florida who was going to burn a Quran on 9/11 in protest of Islam.  This absurd situation is drawing negative attention even from military leaders and our Secretary of State.

I look at these situations involving two local churches and I can’t help but wonder what their real motivation is in acting this way.  Because they certainly aren’t acting like the church as Jesus intended. Continue Reading…

Today I spent some time at a local airport that mainly serves small private planes.

There’s a flight school that gives instruction in a hanger right there off the runway. New pilots are commissioned after going through training that teaches the basics and live in-the-air lessons.

As I head out to a weekend retreat this week, I share some of the reflections about the spiritual highs that we may experience after an amazing Christian conference, church retreat or even after hearing a famous preacher’s sermonic mastery in the pulpit.

But there’s one crticial lesson of flying high that pilots are taught in flight school which God’s people may benefit from regarding their own personal faith journey. Check out this short video where I share my thoughts. . . Continue Reading…

As technology advances the Church continues to evolve with it. There is a small but growing contingency setting out to define the frontier for the Church in the virtual world. Church online has moved beyond live online interactive broadcast worship. It now includes full church communities within Second Life and other similar virtual world platforms. I was able to get Neal Locke a current scholar completing his graduate work at Princeton Theological Seminary to help weigh in on the legitimacy of virtual world churches with respect to those with claims to the Reformed tradition of the Church. His guest post below is just a tip of the iceberg, and hopefully will open some eyes and spark some new creative thoughts for church leaders of the future.

As the proliferation of online communities like Facebook and Twitter continues to attract widespread attention and commentary, a more subtle revolution is taking place that will have more far-reaching consequences for church and culture—the advent of virtual reality.

Projections by researchers in the technology industry indicate that 80% of active Internet users and Fortune 500 companies will be engaged in some sort of virtual reality platform within two years.[1] Analysis of current participation shows that well over 100 million people already are.[2]

As people continue to migrate into these virtual worlds, they bring their institutions with them—in the prominent virtual reality world of Second Life, for example, there are already presences maintained by major universities, corporations, government agencies—and churches.  The legitimacy of churches that function entirely in online virtual worlds has been the subject of much debate in the past year, and this will no doubt continue for some time. Reformed churches, however, are confessional, and thus guided by our our confessions. This seems an appropriate place to begin when exploring the issue of churches in virtual reality: How do the confessions define church? What do they have to say about presence and worship that transcends presence? How do they speak to the church in the midst of cultural, technological, and social upheaval? The reformers who wrote the confessions—even those in the last century—likely did not anticipate the particular reason for which these questions are now being raised, and yet their work displays a remarkable understanding of human nature, society, and theology. In this way they offer both guidance and example for those who seek to be the church in the virtual world.

virtual-world-church2

To begin to explore these questions, I believe we need to take a look at different ways in which the Confessions describe or speak about the church, especially those ways that highlight a dualistic tension between two seeming extremes. This will be helpful in raising a wide variety of ways in which the Reformed heritage intersects and intertwines with issues surrounding churches in virtual reality. In addition, the classic Reformed “Marks of the Church” can be used to see how online churches measure up.  As the church in a virtual reality is further defined , a look at other distinguishing “marks” of the church hinted at, but not prominent in the Confessions can be read with an eye toward those that seem to hold particular promise for fresh expression in online churches.

For churches in virtual worlds, there are still many challenges, both theological and practical.  But the weight and thrust of the Reformed Confessions does not seem to condemn participation in them, nor does it seem to deny their legitimacy. In fact, the bold spirit of innovation in which many of the Confessions were written seems an argument in favor of new and experimental types of churches.

And yet, the Confessions do caution and admonish, striking a careful balance between a Roman church that refuses to be reformed, and Anabaptist churches who have gone too far. Perhaps this is the via media that Reformed churches in virtual worlds ought to seek out—not hanging back, but neither striking out empty-handed. Let them take the cherished Confessions along, freshly elevating neglected sections from newly digitized pages, but still finding familiar ways to proclaim the Word, administer the sacraments, and exercise discipline.

They will be a pixelated people, dispersed yet gathered, and visibly set apart by the God whose grace fills and transcends all of creation (including technology) to reach the elect in every time and place.

[footnotes]
1 Gartner Research, “Gartner Says 80 Percent of Active Internet Users Will Have A “Second Life” in the Virtual World by the End of 2011”; available from http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=503861; Internet; accessed 20 January  2010.
2 Kzero Worldswide, “Looking across the metaverses. Total registered accounts.”; available from http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/?p=1832; Internet; accessed 20 January 2010.

In the Catholic faith, it is customary to enter the church and then dip your fingers in the Holy Water made available up front and then make the sign of the cross. It is a reminder of the baptism that one has made into the church body.

ODD-US-ITALY-FLU-HOLYWATER-ODDEven though the Holy Water is not meant to be injested, some churches are taking the fears of the times into consideration. Here, the pesky old H1N1 fears have taken hold today.

Check out this invention: sanitized Holy Water dispensers . . .

But can HOLY water be sanitized? Does sanitization change the nature of the Holy Water — as transubstantiation does in the Catholic tradition to the bread and wine of the Eucharist?

Necessary? Profound? Irrelevant? Just curious, what’s your reaction to this?