First Person

When our church started receiving offerings through Venmo

The new givers are great. Their comments about why they give are even better.

In planting a church for spiritual refugees—especially Bible Belt millennials who experienced the churches of their youth as boring, irrelevant, exclusive, and even painful—I’ve had to learn a lot of new things. Pastoring traditional congregations for two decades was terrific preparation in some ways, but the difference is never more apparent than when my quirky-as-all-get-out community of belonging in Jesus’ name passes the offering plate.

And we do. We announce at the top of each Sunday worship service that the heart-shaped baskets (bought on clearance at World Market) will be coming through later on. We already know that we aren’t going to collect a bunch of handwritten checks and neatly folded twenties. When was the last time you met a young adult with a checkbook? Or cash on hand?

Instead, we offer several modes of e-giving, including bank-to-bank electronic fund transfers and a suite of PayPal possibilities. There are iPads in the back of the worship space where givers can slide their debit cards and sign with their fingers. We encourage everybody to pick up a laminated card to put in the basket later. The cards say, “I shared electronically, thanks be to God!” or “I shared thoughts and prayers, thanks be to God!” That way, everybody has something to give. “The gifts of God for the people of God! Thanks be to God!”