Meditations (Web)Church

A year (and a bit) in the life of NewSpring's first Web pastor

What does online giving tell us about online church commitment?

with 2 comments

No one at NewSpring knows what to expect when it comes to giving on the Internet Campus.

During our weekend visit to LifeChurch.tv, one of the pioneers of the web church movement, we found out a few intriguing giving factoids that didn’t help clear up anything:

  • online attenders give at a lower rate than physical attenders, (although it is still higher than I was expecting.)
  • giving doesn’t happen much during services
  • there’s no connection between online group members and higher giving

From that, it might be tempting to infer that online church breeds a lukewarm disciple. After all, in scripture, Jesus repeatedly asks for a total commitment,and that often begins with a question of how we view our money: “where our treasure is our heart is also.

(The giving in the church at large is so scandalously low that traditionalists should hold off on any tut-tutting.)

But LifeChurch.tv Online Community Pastor Tony Steward suggested another lens: the concept of “belonging” may be very different online than it is in the real world. In his view, the web’s DNA is all about choosing your level of commitment, and it may not be helpful to make a distinction between “members” and “attenders” and then impose expectations, such as tithing, in accordance with that.

In fact, Campus Pastor Brandon Donaldson told us that the campus staff and the digerati team have discussed modifying the giving language. They prefer to use words like “donate” and “give,” which are much more part of web parlance, rather than emphasizing tithing.

NewSpring Senior Pastor Perry Noble preaches boldly and consistently about the importance of worshipping God with our money, and challenges our church to give our tithe back to God. This year, where other churches are struggling, our collections are significantly up. So tithing language won’t be optional for us.

But I am intrigued by the possibilities of using the Internet to help us greater leverage the time, talent and money of Christians at the current (and relatively low) levels of commitment, as well as offer a way for a progressive pathway to step up that commitment until it is total.

LifeChurch.tv is among many ministries studying Barack Obama’s successes in mobilizing millions — and raising hundreds of millions — to see what the church can learn from their community-building and social media techniques.

There’s no doubt that our combined good works shine before men and offer a witness to Christ.

But what kind of benefits do you see in using more of a “movement” ethos online? And what kinds of costs?

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Written by NickCharalambous

December 11, 2008 at 9:02 am

Posted in discipleship, web campus

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Not sure how applicable this information is to the current discussion, but I prefer giving online even if I’m attending in person. It simplifies the process for me. I pay most of my bills online anyway. While some may value the act of having to write out the check, it doesn’t hold any weight with me — the fathers of our faith didn’t have checkbooks (OR the internet, for that matter). My point is: providing as many tithing options as possible would be helpful to those who desire to give, regardless of whether they’re attending church at a building or on their computer.

    TLC

    December 11, 2008 at 10:25 am

  2. I love the word “movement”. it portrays an attitude that you never really stop. We need to thinking more as a movement with the church. It’s not a fade, it’s not a building (buildings don’t move…unless you’re in a mobile home) and it’s not just statements or words…it’s a move-ment. A movement towards relationship with Jesus. A movement to connect with other people. A movement to serve other people.
    The internet campus will create movement online.
    Keep up the great work!

    Patrick Moore

    December 11, 2008 at 12:13 pm


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