Passing an offering plate through sanctuary pews is ingrained in the church experience, but for a growing number of churches, it’s not the only way to donate anymore.
Online giving has emerged in recent years and is on the rise, with several apps and software programs developed specifically to help churchgoers give online and on mobile devices.
Nationally, 41 percent of churches offered online giving in 2012, and that number continues to grow, according to a report from ACS Technologies Group in South Carolina, which creates software products for churches.
Many of Bowling Green’s largest churches offer online or electronic giving, including Living Hope Baptist Church, Crossland Community Church, Hillvue Heights Church and Holy Spirit Catholic Church.
The Bible tells followers to tithe, but doesn’t give any guidelines on a particular format in which to give, said the Rev. Jason Pettus, senior pastor at Living Hope.
“What’s important is that we give people the opportunity to express their faith by giving,” he said.
Living Hope started an online giving option just over two years ago, and already around 20 percent of gifts to the church come online, Pettus said. He believes it will become even more prevalent in the future.
“We’ve had more and more folks for whom that is just a kind of cultural reality,” he said. “We have found there are a lot of folks who have bank accounts, but don’t write checks and don’t carry cash.”
Of Christians who give 10 percent or more of their income to churches and other religious causes, 36 percent donate online, according to the 2012 State of the Plate report.
Among practicing Christian adults ages 18 to 29, 39 percent donate online to a church or faith organization once a month, according to a survey from the Barna Group, a Christian-based poling and research group.
The online giving trend is something Baptist churches across the state are experiencing, said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Association.
“We’re seeing more and more of our churches, especially our larger churches, offer the option of online giving,” he said. “Those churches who are doing that have started to see the benefit.”
According to the ACS report, churches that added online giving increased their overall collections anywhere from 10 to 30 percent.
“The younger generation of adults, they don’t even own a checkbook and they’re not used to carrying around cash,” Chitwood said. “They’re accustomed to using credit cards.”
One person in that demographic is Gregg Farrell, senior pastor of Crossland Community Church, who is a big proponent of online giving. Crossland has offered online giving for about four years and Farrell estimates about 20 percent of the church’s offerings currently come from online gifts.
“For a certain generation of us, that’s all we know, is our check card and online banking,” he said.
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SOURCE: BG Daily News