Churches have devised all sorts of ingenious ways to offerings. From the traditional ways of a congregation rising from their seats to march to the front in order to drop their offerings at the altar or a congregation singing hymns such as ‘give what you give, give it unto the Lord and the Lord will give it back unto you,’ while an offering basket is being circulated, churches are on the verge of a digital revolution as far as offerings are concerned.
The modern ways of making offering is seen to be violating the New Testament teachings about how and why people should give.
Reverend Lukas Katenda says the use of debit cards in church is a modern way of making the church a business. He says that people are supposed to give freely and only when they have. “In the mainline churches we still use the basket system where you put in what you have and where you also pledge on a monthly basis whether you do that by debit order or you just have an envelope on a monthly basis that you drop in at the church office,” he said.
The number of people who go around carrying money in their wallets have dropped since the advent of debit and credit cards, but despite this, the church which is often considered to still practice orthodox methods is leading the pack when it comes to electronic transactions.
Pastor Mike Amey from the Koi International Church-which enjoys a huge following especially amongst young people in Windhoek-said his church allows congregants to use their debit cards when it comes to giving offerings.
“At the Koi International Church practices the modern manner of offering and members are allowed to use their debit cards in church. Ps. Mike says that there is nothing wrong with using this ‘new’ mechanism as the church remains in its bounders on its usage,” he said.
“Instead of church members contributing their tithe (which is ten percent of your income) to the church with physical money or an EFT, we give them the option of swiping using their debit cards,” said Amey.
“Old Testament, members of congregation would bring crops or cows as offerings because during that time that is what they used in the place of money. However in the modern world which is the day and age in which we live in people within the congregation offer money towards the church. “It’s about giving to God what he has blessed you with,” he said.
He further indicated that Khoi sells refreshments at church and that members who wish to purchase something to eat or drink can pay for the items by swiping with their debit card. He emphasized on the fact that “one should not go into debt giving for God.”
“We cannot dispute the fact that in the ever so fast changing world we live in even the church conform to the digital world but where the line is drawn makes the difference. What remains is that members of the congregation shouldn’t be victimized for not offering or feel as though they are not offering enough towards the church. Offering your devotion remains the purest form of generosity and should be given out of pure love and must be done freely,” Amey said.
From a biblical point of view Reverend Ngeno Nakamela said “from the time of Jesus, giving offering was connected to help other people in need.”
He added: “If something was collected it was meant to cater for people’s needs,” he said. Contemporary churches, though, are not just spiritual enterprises; they are businesses. They have budgets, staff, building repairs they need cash and converts. People make offerings due to responsibilities of such nature.”
Making church offerings date back to the Acts of the Apostles which state that people need to gather together to share what they have. “In other words it was also meant to encourage fellowship, having something together. The biblical standing of offering is around sharing what people have so that no one should have too much and no one should have too less but having to say people are in that relationship of taking care of one another,” explains Reverend Nakamela.
He also noted that offering helps to overcome the egoism of not only thinking about oneself but also to think about others.
Why are offerings done?
“As church people we need to expand the church in terms of growth and evangelism,” said Rev. Maria Kapere. She explained that when the church became institutionalized members shared what they had with one another and that offerings are used for the development of the church and the programmes it runs, offerings are sponsored to those who have to do the job of spreading the gospel. Rev. Kapere further explained that proper guidelines have to be established in churches as to how the offerings are made and managed. “I cannot say it’s wrong to use the method of swiping in church as long as it’s in faith and truth for Gods work,” she said.
Kapere said churches should elect committees that can explain to the congregation how the money from their offerings are spent “It should be an open and transparent process in which members have excess to information,” she said.
Nakamela said offering is not mandatory for Christians however how people participate in offering differ from church to church. “There are those who are referring to the old testament scriptures that says you should bring the tenth of what you have not necessarily money but it could also be animals or crops. This sounds more like a law and thus it forces people to conform,” he said.
However, in the New Testament approach Jesus did not bring something that forces people but brings more freedom. The Old Testament is of the notion that people should give according to what they have. “What we need to emphasize is that people need to use the freedom that they have and follow what their hearts are telling them to do. Give according you your ability as long as you feel like giving but not that you are forced to,” says Reverend Nakamela.