A New York Times article recently laid out new and historical trends in, of all things, tithing – when people give money to support the staff and work of a church.
First, the NYT covers the Mormon way…
Worshipers pick up [a slip] at their local chapel, fill it out and hand over their money to a lay leader (having annotated the amounts paid by check, currency or coins, per the instructions on the slip). No annual bill, no passing of the plate. Keep the canary-colored carbon copy for your records. The fact that the slip looks a bit like something your dry cleaner might give you when you drop off your clothes is part of its appeal.
Then they mention that Reform Judaism had a pay-per-pew model, “letting those who paid the most sit in the best seats in the sanctuary and get honors, like blessing and holding the Torah.” The article says these days, temple members just pay annual dues.
Then, the recent trends…
A service called ParishPay, “which works with many Catholic churches and a few synagogues,” has helped about 1,000 institutions set up credit card transactions and automated payments. The service claims this has boosted giving by 20 to 30 percent.
Another company, SecureGive, goes a step further and just sets up credit card kiosks right in the churches. And Hindu temples. And, apparently, some zoos and hospitals. That idea is the brainchild of Marty Baker, a pastor at a Georgia church.
The NYT quotes Baker as saying, “There is something about swiping that card at church. It’s a reminder that your gifts are making a difference in a broader context.”
The article makes no mention of drive-through service, but surely that’s next.