By Larry Short
Ever since we started attending Elim 15 years ago, Darlene and I have given our tithe by electronic billpay. I realize this may be a little unusual, but it is getting less so in our current day and age. So Dan asked me if I would write a quick Last Word explaining why we do this, and how you can too.
First of all, what is electronic billpay? If you have an account at a bank (and most of us do), electronic billpay simply is a service where you can schedule your “bills” (any recurring payments) to be paid automatically, either by direct transfer from your bank account to someone else’s, or else by having your bank automatically create and send a check on your behalf. For a number of years we have used a service called CheckFree to do this with all our bills. They charge us less than $10 a month for this service and we find that we can barely live without the convenience.
But you don’t have to use CheckFree, and nowadays you may be able to do bill-pay for free through your bank. But first let’s ask, why should you?
There are three key reasons why we use electronic billpay: It is strategic, it is consistent, and it is convenient.
Strategic: At least once each year, Darlene and I sit down and review our current financial situation. How has the Lord blessed us during the past year? What do we, in faith, want to do in order to show our gratitude and to be obedient to His command? We pray, decide on an amount, and then log onto our secure billpay site and make a simple change instruction. CheckFree then sends a check to Elim, every single week rain or shine, in the amount that we have specified. They also provide all the accounting to help us track our giving. And then, on the occasion that we want to give a special gift above and beyond, we simply write a paper check.
Consistent: I don’t know about you, but I lead a busy and complicated life and it’s too easy for me to forget even the important things. With automatic billpay, I don’t worry that if I go on vacation or camping in the summer and miss a weekend worship service, the church will be left holding the bag without my tithe. (To do so, even once, I feel would be unfaithful.) The hard, cold truth is that church giving always dips — sometimes significantly — during the summer months. Why? If people aren’t there (and attendance is lower in the summer), they forget to tithe. Automatic billpay helps me to be more faithful, and blesses Elim as a result.
Convenient: I don’t have to worry about bringing my checkbook with me to church each week, just my Bible. One less thing to carry!
Are there any drawbacks to using automatic billpay for my tithe? I think I’ve only found one: I sometimes feel a little awkward letting the offering plate slide on by me, without putting anything in it! I wonder if people think, “Tsk, tsk. He’s an elder and he doesn’t even give!”
But then, I catch myself. We’re not supposed to be tithing for the sake of being seen doing it by others, right? So, who cares what they think? My giving is just between me and the Lord. Hence, in reality, I think this (somewhat humbling) experience is probably, in reality, good for me!
Please consider setting up automatic billpay for your tithe. I think that, like me, you’ll be glad you did! If you have any questions about how to get started, let’s chat. Thanks for reading!