Payment from the Pews


In trying to help leaders do their work, we are often talking about how to work smarter, not harder. When it comes to leading a church, this can often be misleading. After all, much of ministry work is only possible through careful, difficult effort. Whether it’s pastoral care or sermon prep, shortcuts or hacks would only lead to diminished work. But when it comes to giving, efficiency matters. I’ve seen so many leaders spin their wheels thinking that there is some big, theological problem when it comes to a lack of giving from their church. Most of the time, though, the problem isn’t that complex.

We wrote a while back about some of the elegant solutions that your church could implement. One of those focused on performing an audit of how people give. More and more, people are carrying only plastic in their wallets and increasingly, they are using contactless payment methods, either with a card or a mobile device. A recent article details the Church of England’s recent implementation of contactless collection stations in their churches. The Catholic Church is also moving toward this payment method. Is it right for your church?


Tapping the Potential

There are a lot of options for how to give beyond cash and check. Companies have created apps that can be white-labeled to enable giving to churches, text-to-give numbers, and ETF transfers at set up consistent giving directly through bank accounts. There’s even been a new hardware push—giving kiosks. A ‘donation station’ can be set up just outside the sanctuary and people can quickly swipe and go.

But all of these bring their own considerations. There are additional fees associated with these services that will limit the amount actually received by the church. There are the issues of convenience and universality. And these scattered portals can lead to confusion about the very nature of giving. After all, this is a moment of worship, gathering the gifts and offerings of the people as an act of obedience and submission to God, the creator and sustainer of all. How can we make giving clear and easy without losing the vital communal act in our service?

This is where the potential for technologies like Apple Pay and contactless readers could be transformative. Granted, their use in churches is still in its infancy, but I’m eager to see how giving could be simultaneously state-of-the-art and faithful to its foundation as a worshipful moment.

For now, you need to know that in order to utilize Apply Pay for donations, you’ll need to register your church with Apple. While you are able to do that as an individual organization, you may want to explore how your current online giving portals can assist you. For example, Planning Center allows you to join through their own designated group, helping you voice annual fees with Apple. The Church of England has partnered with ann organization called SumUp for its contactless readers. There are lots of these readers on the market, but they are only slowly turning their attention to churches and other nonprofits.

I am eager to see how these technologies evolve and how forward-thinking clergy will adapt them for their own contexts. If you or someone you know is doing this sort of work PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I can’t wait to share these stories!


David Roseberry

David Roseberry leads the nonprofit ministry, LeaderWorks. He was the founding rector of Christ Church, Plano, Texas, and is the author of many books. He lives in Plano with his wife, Fran.

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