Yesterday — or was it the day before?  Either way, I recently wrote about tithe envelopes.  I realized that in my haste to rid myself of these little envelopes, I didn’t think  about a replacement.  And of course we need a replacement. 

What about ATM machines — with the disclaimer — “Do Not Charge Your Tithe / Offering” because we don’t want to encourage poor stewardship — ever!

We could attach the machines to the back of pews and people could punch in their tithe during the offertory music.  If you’re particularly moved by the service, you could even make an additional offering.   Church runs a little over — maybe do a little reduction?  Okay, that’s not good, but it’s a thought. 

We could change the acronym ATM to mean  Automatic Tithing Machine or the Giving Center (which sounds much more vague and churchy).  I can just hear it:

“As our ushers pass along the aisles, please feel free to grab one should you need assistance with the Giving Center at your seat.”

 To take the Giving Center to the next level, we could install the Giving Board. This scrolling message board (like the ones you see on the bottom of the TV screen) would be used to give up to the minute tithe reports – talk about instant information (with the appropriate disclaimer of course – “totals are estimates only, actual numbers will be available at the regular monthly business meeting”).

 It would probably look something like this:

current offering total $1200……don’t forget Parents’ Night out Friday 11/14, sign up in the preschool dept. …. current offering total $1562….youth winter break trip money due November 28th …. current offering total $1598 . . . music committee meeting at 4:30 today . . .

We could even have a little friendly competition between sides of the church — “left side total $1254 . . . right side total $1309 …. and the numbers would bounce back and forth.  Nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, right?  We’re giving it all to the Lord, right?

Okay — I’m the first to admit that installing ATM machines may be a bit of a stretch for many churches, but it’s a proven fact that people spend more when they use their debit card.  I bet I don’t write but ten checks in  month and between our tithe checks and my nail lady — that’s the majority of them.  Something feels so wrong about putting tithe checks and my manicure checks in the same sentence.  It just felt a bit …. not Christian like.  Although, I’m certain I’m not breaking any rules when I get my nails done every other week.

I’m just trying to face this economic crisis head on and be proactive.  Maybe the Deep South isn’t ready for ATMs in the pews, but you have to admit it’s a good idea.