Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Giving Kiosk

Recently I have heard of a new way to encourage giving by the church, The Giving Kiosk: and ATM type of machine, placed in or near the sanctuary, that accepts your giving. Now I am not going to get into the theology of giving and if Jesus ever commanded us to give or not, but I do recognize that most churches need the finances from the giving of the congregation to survive. Budgets are written and proposed each year that limits spending based on the previous year’s giving and the current trends of growth of the church. Most churches have a mortgage, utility payments, salaries, ministry needs and many other expenses that have to be addressed yearly. It is my hope that all churches use a portion of their received gifts in ways that help their community, the world, missions, and any other group that is making a difference for Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

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We live in a culture where the economy dictates what we spend and how and where we spend our money. We live in a time where many homes are being repossessed by banks. Interest rates and creative financing have put people in a corner where their only way of keeping on top of the bills is walking away from their homes. Gas prices continue to climb and we are slaves to our cars. We work miles away from our homes and walking to work would be impossible. Mass transit is not even an option any of us want to consider. This past week we have heard on the news that the US dollar has dropped in value allowing others to come into the US for deals because their dollar buys more. I thought that was why many went to Mexico. Lastly, salaries are not rising to meet the cost of living.

Realizing that we are facing some difficult times giving to the church has dropped. Budgets are not being met and budget cuts become the necessary course of action. Churches become creative in ways of meeting their budgets. Fundraising, golf tournaments, concerts, guest speakers, workshops, car washes, bake sales are just a few ways that some churches raise money to offset expenses. It is funny though that the people targeted for these events are the same people sitting in the pews. Other methods of giving have been online giving: a secure way of giving from the safety and convenience of your home pc. And if you use your credit card you can earn frequent flyer miles!

For most of us giving is a part of our act of worship (2 Corinthians 9:7) as we cheerfully give back to God a portion of what He has blessed us with. We bring to this offering to God and to His storehouse (Malachi 3:7). I am afraid if we are looking for a reward or convenience for our offering we are missing the point of sacrificial giving (Luke 21:1-4).

One pastor who uses these giving kiosks was quoted as saying, “We're just trying to connect with the culture and that's how the culture does business. It's more than an ATM for Jesus. It's about erasing barriers.” It is funny that this would be his concern instead of reaching those in the culture and inviting them in.

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