Should The Local Church Take Visa?
As most of us know, we are moving to a paperless society. Checks, and even cash, are now obsolete to many. People's paychecks are electronically deposited into their bank account, and then spent using some form of plastic. Many of their monthly bills are auto-drafted from their checking account. And yet, in most of our churches, we provide our people no option for giving other than writing a check or giving cash. Hence the question, "Should the local church take Visa?"
From a purely practical standpoint, the answer is clearly "yes." If many people use their debit or credit card exclusively, and we don't accept that form of payment, then we are in effect disenfranchising them from giving to the Lord through their local church. At the very least, we are erecting a barrier that makes it difficult/complicated for them to do so. From this standpoint, it's a no-brainer to establish a way for people to give to the Lord with a debit/credit card, or even by auto-draft from their bank account. (Or to send the ushers around with card-scanning machines during the offering time.) :)
From a spiritual standpoint, it is not so cut and dry. God implored Israel, through the prophet Malachi, to "bring all the tithes into the storehouse." Paul instructed the Corinthians to "lay something aside" when they gathered on the first day of the week. Throughout Scripture, the physical act of giving is presented as an element of worship. How does the local church accommodate those who would prefer (or even need) to give their tithe online using a debit/credit card, without losing the giving element of its corporate worship?
Some other questions to consider:
Is it important that the physical act of giving be part of corporate worship, or is this idea legalistic?
Can giving that is auto-drafted from your checking account legitimately be called an act of worship? Does it matter?
Is it unethical, or even unbiblical, of the local church to potentially give its people an option to pay their tithe with money they don't truly have (i.e. credit card), thus further enslaving their people to debt?
Is this just another area where the Church is reluctant to "get with the times?" One longtime member of our church recalled some of our members being very opposed when our church first started accepting checks many years ago. Is that a valid comparison?
I know many churches already accept electronic payments. If your church has gone this route, I would love to hear if you've had this discussion and, if so, what conclusions you've reached. In fact, I'd love to see a lot of comments on this post from pastors and laypeople alike. What is your perspective?