In a recent post, a throwaway line of mine, that to be authentically Anglican an online service should have a collection and notices, led to an interesting comment from a person whose church hadn’t had a collection for years. The commenter assumed that this was common and that most people give using automatic payments or bank transfers.
I have been advocating for church to move more into the Third Millennium – especially mission and ministry in the digital world. I have written about having a paywave donation point for visitors a they enter the church building (example in the image above). Some churches have indeed been putting these up. Some churches have a machine so you can make a PayWave/card payment donation electronically as you come in or go out of a service.
I was so surprised at the commenter’s assumption that collection plates are a thing of the past that I posted the question on twitter. There was a good, quick response spanning the spectrum. In summary, congregants prefer putting something into a collection plate; church leaders prefer regular digital giving. Even though many assert that, whilst in lockdown, online they are having far more people at their services, there is mostly a significant drop in church income. Very many are, in New Zealand, receiving the government’s wage subsidy – which is only possible if you have had at least a 30% drop in income. Not presenting an online facility to donate in online services is costing.
Two final points. I often find that visiting a church, it seems a deep secret how one would become a regular giver here (yes, there are excellent exceptions to this observation). Secondly, I think that the collection has a theological place in the service. I dislike (note the understatement) those churches that have a complex ritual for the collection that they would never dream of applying to the bread and wine of the Eucharist, but I do think the connection between ourselves and our money (cf. Jesus often talking about wealth and money) makes the offering of our money in a service important. If your church has a digital means of giving money, I think that you should be able to pick up a card as you enter the building (the card can have a well-thought-through statement and even a Bible quote) that you can put on the collection plate as it goes round as your way to participate in this part of a service.
This post really continues Liturgy Lockdown Lessons. Here are the previous ones:
Lockdown Liturgy Lessons 1 (3 minutes reading time)
Lockdown Liturgy Lessons 2 (5 minutes reading time)
Lockdown Liturgy Lessons 3 (4 minutes reading time)
Lockdown Liturgy Lessons 4 (4 minutes reading time)
Lockdown Liturgy Lessons 5 Teilhard’s Mass on the World (4 minutes reading time)
Lockdown Liturgy Lessons 6 Agape Meal (4 minutes reading time)
Lockdown Liturgy Lessons 7 (6 minutes reading time)
Lockdown Liturgy Lessons 8 (5 minutes reading time)
Some of the other resources and reflections on this site for this Covid19 context:
Holy Saturday in a Covid19 World
Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter in a Covid19 World
Coronavirus solitude self-isolation and spirituality
Streaming services, online spiritual resources in coronavirus times
New Zealand Prayer Book Daily Prayer
NZ in lockdown
Covid 19 moves churches into the Third Millennium
Carthusians Covid-19 and Communion
Learning from Hermits in a Covid19 World