Electronic offering box: another way to share

From producing communion wafers to providing churches to paying full-time ministers, the church needs money to fulfil its mission. Interestingly, the traditional offering box is no longer the only way that we can contribute our mite.

“Offering made easy”, is the title of a banner on the website of the New Apostolic Church Southern Africa. Instructions follow on how to install SnapScan, an app designed for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.

Download the app, sign up with your details, scan to add your bankcard, and choose a four-digit pin. Then open SnapScan and scan the QR code with your phone’s camera. You are ready to go. The person offering can type in the reference number of a congregation, and the offering will then be credited to that the congregation. This is offering in the twenty-first century.

But making it easier for the members is not the only reason that the Church in South Africa has decided to pursue this option. In fact, the Church wants to enhance security by doing away with the otherwise necessary cash transfer. Another reason, the Church wants to promote the confidentiality of the offerer.

The number of users is rising

Southern Africa is not the first District Church to go online with its offering. The Church in northern Germany went electronic in October 2014 with its app O-Box.

Money can be transferred with two clicks. Sensitive data is transmitted encrypted. If desired, a reminder can be activated. Additional features are provided, such as a reminder for the yearly thank-offering. Further special projects can also be accessed using QR codes.

About 750 people used the app in 2015. By 2016, this number had risen to 1,500. According to the District Church, the rising number of users shows that this trend will likely prevail.

Accompanying the introduction of the electronic offering box in 2015 in northern Germany, the Church distributed a brochure, My Offering, in the congregations. The motto was: “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13: 16). Over eight pages, different aspects of offering are examined such as “Offering to God out of gratitude”, “Contributing to the community”, or “Thinking and acting responsibly”.

If desired, also with a dedication

Offering by electronic means is no longer a novelty in North America. Under the menu item “Give”, the New Apostolic Church Canada offers users a secure means to transfer their offerings. Clicking on the button “Offer Now” takes users to a donation form where they can enter all the details and select a payment method: either credit card, the online payments system PayPal, or even by gift card.

The gift card is linked to CanadaHelps, an independent platform for donating and fundraising online. Over 1.7 million Canadians have used the platform to donate nearly 900 million dollars to charities so far. When making an online donation with the New Apostolic Church Canada, users can even choose to do so anonymously or dedicate it to someone or donate the money in memory of someone.

Offerings means sharing

How broad the notion of offering, giving, and sharing is, is demonstrated by the New Apostolic Church USA. “Giving” is not only a page on the website of the NAC USA where users can donate once or on a repetitive or regular basis by debit or credit card and even specify a congregation. In fact, the district’s entire charitable activities are featured under this menu option.

A video shows what “giving” means and what we express to God with our offerings. Giving is love, faith, joy, mission, sacrifice, secret, and worship. “Giving ties us together. It’s how we express our love towards God, His church, and our neighbour.”

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