I’m all for ease and efficiency, and I love systems that work. I am not, however, in favor of weekly church contributions that are electronically set up on a recurring basis—for more than one reason. A recent article brought up this question, and several official church leaders were interviewed. Below is an expanded version of the original comment I made under that article.
Sincere individuals will frequently have very nice, spiritually minded ways of working something like electronic contributions out for themselves. The folks interviewed for the article, for instance, presented a nicely balanced, thoughtful view of the e-giving conundrum. Thinking about the masses, though, I would put forward three reasons not to move in the direction of e-contributions:
- As pointed out, it tends to be neither very personal nor very communal to click or tap in a charity app—especially if that click/tap is for a one-time setup for a recurring transaction that it’s so easy to be unaware of later.
- Some of the “pro” rationale strikes me as very institutionally motivated rather than Reign-of-God-motivated. Contributing to building upkeep and salaries as a member of an institution may be fine for some, but it is not as compelling for those of us more interested in simple/organic concepts and missions.
- Giving charitably is good, but the tithe, after all—and we simply must realize this—is not a New Covenant thing. A payment service calling itself “easyTithe” is perpetuating the problem. Other e-giving options may be less problematic in terms of overt nomenclature and illegitimate association with ancient Israel’s priestly tithe system, yet the very idea of regular contributions appears more connected to paying dues in a club than to the goals of the apostolic church.
I found it interesting that a (pretty good!) translation of 1Cor 16:2 was included in the above-referenced article. It bears emphasis here that the import of the first few verses of 1Cor 16 is not a little ambiguous. This passage certainly cannot be inextricably linked to weekly contributions to today’s church treasuries, though.
For more on this topic, please see the following posts:
In the second of the above posts, this on-target quotation appears:
There is no indication given whether this is meant to be a tithe (no such prescription occurs in the New Testament); but is is implied that it is proportional and substantial. It seems this is to be done on a family basis and the funds kept at home.” (emphasis the authors’, not mine) – Orr and Walther, The Anchor Bible Translation and Commentary, v. 32, 1 Corinthians (1976), p. 356.
One can object to my objections on any one of several grounds (e.g., community-based, tradition-based), but the simple fact is that habitual, institution-supporting weekly giving to a church treasury is not explicitly supported—or dealt with at all—in canonical Christian scripture.