Some Georgia churches offer giving kiosk as new way to tithe

09/24/2012 11:11 AM

09/24/2012 6:24 PM

Some Middle Georgia churchgoers can now use their debit or credit card in addition to the traditional donation plate.

The giving kiosk is becoming a part of some churches as a means to offer an easier way to donate and tithe.

“It’s like an ATM machine, but there is no cash in it,” said Keith King, chief operating officer of Beulahland Bible Church, which has campuses in Macon and Byron. “Our senior pastor, Maurice Watson, wanted a more convenient way for people to give.“

He found in his travels and places that he’s been (that) people, even his daughters, don’t carry a lot of cash. They don’t even carry checkbooks. They have a debit card, and that’s what they’re using.

”That posed an issue for the church.

“Now when people came to church, we didn’t have a way for them to give, so we would miss out on people wanting to give,” King said.“So we said, ‘Hey it’s our job to make it more convenient for people. This is a church that makes things peaceful for people. When we renovate, we think about people. When we do rooms, we think about sound. We put up screens around, so people can see the service. Well, why not do it when it comes to with giving?’ ”

Beulahland has been using the kiosk since the beginning of August and also uses the traditional donation plate.

“It’s funny the young people clamored to it because they’re used to being on computers,” said Velma Albert of the church. “I would say the older ones had some trepidation about coming to a computer-type thing, so we had to literally stand there and walk them through it, and it turned out to be good.

”New Hope International Church in Fort Valley has been using two giving kiosk machines, in addition to the donation plate, for three years.

“The world is constantly heading in an advanced technological direction. We don’t want to keep up but be right there where they’re at, so we can be on the same level,” said Jordan Poole, executive pastor of New Hope International Church.

“I think (the kiosks) actually improved our giving because it allows people more options to give in different ways. If you look out there on a Sunday, there are people waiting in line to give,” Poole said.

The machine lets givers choose how their money supports the church. They also can choose when to give.

“You can do it before service, during service, after service, or sometime during the week instead of coming in and handing an individual offering envelope or putting out a check,” King said.“They can select which category they want to give to -- whether it’s general tithes and offering, the youth ministry, missions, benevolences -- wherever they decide they want their money to go.”

The machine offers a direct way to link the churchgoer’s pocket to the church. It can keep track of donations in a database and be used for tax purposes. If the giver wants to remain anonymous, there is also that option. The giving kiosk prints out a receipt with every transaction.

“When I first heard about it, I was just thinking how the church has evolved, and we have a more futuristic church,” said Louis Shealey, who attends New Hope International Church. “It’s convenient, I don’t have to go to the bank and withdraw money or stop at a store somewhere. I can just swipe my card.”

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