I remember the moment vividly even as a six year old in the early 90’s.
It’s the start of the AM church service, and I was sitting in the pews next to my parents getting ready to be dismissed from the sanctuary for children’s church. There were always two moments before running down the aisle that I looked forward to. The first was taking the pencil from the back of the pew in front me and drawing all over the bulletin, hymnal, tithing envelope, or anything else I could get my hands on. The second moment was the anticipation of the offering plate being passed down the row. It was like clockwork every Sunday. My parents would slip their check or cash into an envelope and place it into a full offering plate, but not before passing me a few ones or maybe even a five dollar bill to throw in! Participating in this moment as a six year old meant that I had grown up. I was able to join my parents, and everyone else in the sanctuary, and do something that only adults do. It was a great feeling. Granted, I may have not completely understood the meaning of this weekly ritual, but it was those moments at an early age that instilled in me the importance of giving.
As I got older, there were always droughts of how much money I gave back to the church. Whether it was being a broke college student or financial hardships as a stubborn, young, single man, giving became low on my list. It was a challenge for me to let go of something I thought I earned and controlled. When God thankfully removed this barrier in my life, bi-weekly, online tithing was the best way for me to consistently give without ever having to make a weekly decision. It was automatic! As God has continued to work in my life and now my wife's life in this area, there’s still one obstacle I run into. Where have those one and five dollar bills gone?
In-the-moment giving or benevolent offerings happen on a pretty regular basis at our church, maybe once or twice a month. There are many of those moments such as an offering for a specific cause or holiday, a conviction laid from worship or message, or maybe some additional take home pay earned that month from a lucky commission sale at work, where I want to give in that moment. The roadblock is that I never ever carry cash. I don't even have a wallet. So during the offering when the plate comes by, now with very little cash filling it, I've always wondered why is there not another way I can give right now? Something as simple as inserting my debit card at Starbucks for my Pikes Place coffee. A way that also allows visitors of the church to give just as easy.
In my opinion, giving is not something that should be taken lightly. It should be efficient, frictionless, and done with as little distraction as possible. I've seen some interesting new ways of giving that churches have tried implementing such as text to give, giving through downloaded apps, or stationary kiosks somewhere in the church. It hasn't been until recently after using a Pod that I have been able to give conveniently during a service with my debit card. There's no buttons, screens, downloading, or anything that could distract you or anyone around you from what's most important. Using this device brought me back to my six year old self throwing that cash into the plate. I felt like I was a part of the community and was able to fellowship with other members and visitors. Better yet, this device is now an easy way for my future kids to sit by their parents and have their own grown up moment and hopefully help them understand why I give.