Our Session and Diaconate has approved and made provision for the practice of online (web-based) giving to the church on a regular basis, if you choose to do so.
Many of our members and regular attenders are already giving online via electronic banking, as more and more are making payments to a variety of entities that way.
But some of you may be wondering if it is an acceptable practice, biblically and theologically. We have never formally addressed this with the congregation until now, but we have come to this position: as a matter of pastoral and practical wisdom, we believe online giving is an acceptable way to give your tithes and offerings to the work of the kingdom.
Our rationale is as follows:
1. We believe there is freedom in the Lord to give in this manner. Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to give tithes and offerings in the context of a worship service. We are commanded to give and give generously in several instances, but not necessarily nor specifically in a worship service. The widow's mite, e.g., was given outside the worship service of the temple. The closest we come to this is in 1 Corinthians 16: 2, where on the “first day of the week” the congregation is encouraged to set aside funds for the poor in Jerusalem, but where and how is not specified.
2. Our confession of faith (the Westminster Confession of Faith) nowhere mentions giving in a worship service as a required act of worship. In Chapter 21-5, it mentions the "parts of ordinary religious worship" and giving is not mentioned. Many of our Presbyterian brethren do not take up offerings in the worship service for that very reason. We, however, believe there is freedom to do so, which is explained below.
3. Our Book of Church Order (of our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America) does not require giving in a worship service. The BCO has a Directory for Worship, Chapters 47-63 at the end of the book, which gives directions and suggestions for public worship. Chapters include those on preaching, music, prayers, et al, including the "worship of God by offerings." However, it is not part of the PCA constitution and is therefore not binding on the churches. It is considered good advice, but does not have the force of canon law. (Exceptions include chapters 56-58, which deal with the administration of the sacraments and the admission of persons to those sacraments.)
Having said all that, we believe there are good reasons for taking up an offering in the context of the worship service, which has been our practice ever since our inception as a church. In brief, we believe it is an appropriate expression of worship, as a way of giving thanks for God's generosity to us, demonstrating stewardship, supporting the work of the Kingdom, and as an expression of a heart submissive to and devoted to God. We will continue to take up an offering in the worship service and encourage our worshippers to do so with cheerfulness. Our policy simply allows and provides for the practice of giving outside of the worship service, which we believe we have the freedom to do, in light of Scripture, our confession and the Book of Church Order of the PCA.
From a budgeting standpoint, we believe that online giving may help us to avoid the ups and downs of our budget cycle, perhaps smoothing out the peaks and valleys of weekly receipts that happen when people have to miss a Sunday. We believe the weekly, bimonthly or monthly paying of bills that many people do online will facilitate more regular and consistent giving to the Kingdom of God with the online option available.
Whatever way you choose to give, we hope and pray you will do so as an expression of your love for Christ and His church and do it willingly, cheerfully, and generously, and as a response to Christ's sacrificial gift to us.