Today, we want to talk about the difference between tithes and offering, and how online giving can help your church do each in a way that is both fulfilling and graceful. Be good stewards of the gifts your congregation is giving by managing not only the actual bank account balance, but also by improving the giving process.
Let’s jump in:
What are Tithes?
As I’m sure you know, “tithing” is the act of setting apart a tenth of whatever you own as a small way to remember that everything we have belongs to God. We are simply giving back a share of what has been given to us.
Tithing on a regular basis is not only a way for you to support the financial needs of your church, it can also draw you closer to God and increase your awareness of His provision and your dependence on it. When tithing becomes a habit for your congregation, you will begin to see God working through your church in new and exciting ways. I’m not here to talk about an exact percentage or quote chapter and verse.
But let me tell you a story:
Imagine Debra, a single mom with two kids. She works two jobs and doesn’t have a lot of extra money, but she does feel like tithing is something she wants to do. Paycheck after paycheck, she models faithfulness for her children and writes check after check to her church. Despite feeling anxious about money, she feels confident about supporting her church and continually sees new ways God is providing and honoring her giving. She has never regretted her decision. Today, Debra can set up automatic payments online to her church and take a little bit more of the stress out of her situation. The easier it is for her to automate and keep track, the less she has to think about money.
It can be a service to your congregation to allow them to automate the processes of their life. Most of your regular attenders and members would honestly like to be regular financial supporters at your church. If you make it easy for them, you may be surprised by how they respond.
Now, What About Offerings?
The term “offering” simply means a gift or contribution. Usually, people consider any amount that exceeds their tithe to be an offering. They’re sometimes given for a specific purpose, like a missions project, a building fund, a visiting pastor or speaker, a healthcare or housing need, or, really, anything. Offerings are also given by guests who visit a church and would still like to be a part of the community even though they don't go to that church regularly.
Robert was visiting relatives in another city and he was excited to see what their new church was like. The pastor delivered a compelling message, the worship was powerful, the company was delightful, and he learned a lot about some new ministries that church was involved in. He’s not going to switch churches––he lives across the state––but he wanted to give a gift and be a small part of this other church’s mission even though he might not ever attend again.
But sometimes visitors may not have cash or the ability to write a check at the time. This is why it’s important for a church to have an online giving tool that can be easily used and easily set up to give a one-time donation.
By having the name of your website in the weekly bulletin, a visitor could then potentially go home, pull up the website, and make their contribution. But you can do better than that.
If the pastor mentions a giving opportunity in the sermon––like texting or a mobile version of the website––and instructions are given in a slide, or if a speaker explains the the giving process, guests (and your regulars, too) can give and participate much more easily. Continue to pause or have a musical interlude to allow your congregation a few minutes to make a gift if they choose to. That’s even more effective and it provides a way for people to participate in a very natural way!
The screenshot below allows you to see an example of a church using an online giving tool that makes it easy to give an offering (and you can see the “Scheduled Giving” option is easy to find if someone is looking for it). This church uses our online giving tool (e360 Giving) on their website––and you can, too!