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The Validity of Online Giving?

David Veldkamp

The OPC's Directory for Public worship describes giving as an element of public worship, and it is ordinarily fitting to bring tithes and offerings as part of Sunday worship services. However, we find ourselves in an extraordinary situation where the average Orthodox Presbyterian currently finds himself or herself, not in the church pew, but in the position of a shut-in. Electronic giving solutions enable God's people to bring to him the "firstfruits of their labors" (DPW II.B.4.a; cf. Lev. 27:26-27, 30-33) while they are prevented from Lord’s Day worship in the gathered assembly.

Solutions for Giving During Social Distancing

For many, a simple solution will be to have church members mail checks, made out to the church, to a specified deacon. A benefit of this setup is that it will avoid credit card processing fees. However, this will not work for everyone – particularly younger church members for whom it is no longer common to carry a checkbook. Online giving services enable church members like these to continue the healthy habit of giving.

There are several popular vendors who provide online giving solutions for churches and nonprofits, including (in no order, and with no implied endorsement):

Selecting a Solution

Depending on your church's size and needs, there are several factors to consider in selecting a vendor. Here are three:

Features

Each of the vendors listed above provide some solution for electronic giving. However, the features and services they provide vary. A church will want to review the range of features and determine which they need.

Pricing

Some of the solutions above come with a monthly enrollment fee, while others do not. All of them will have some sort of processing fee attached to each transaction. Churches will want to compare these fee structures carefully.

Security

In a digital environment where identities can be stolen and reputations harmed, security is an important component of stewardship. Churches will want to ensure that their vendor meets Level 1 PCI Compliance standards.

Implementing a Solution

Once you've selected a vendor, setup and implementation is easier than you might think. You'll need to provide the vendor with some basic legal and banking information. If the vendor allows for giving through their app, your church's information is often automatically loaded. For web-based giving, you'll need to copy and paste a bit of code onto your website – the person managing your church's website should be able to help.

If you don't have a website or no longer have someone in your church to manage your website, the cost of hiring a web designer might be worthwhile. Five More Talents and Reformation Websites are web design services run by Orthodox Presbyterian officers.

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