I remember going to Buckeye Village Market with my mom when I was a kid. She would clip coupons to get savings. We would stop by the deli counter, the bakery counter and the meat counter, all of which were staffed by middle-aged men. The closest we got to ethnic food were two big cans of Chow Mein that were glued together. Mom would pay with a check. Our groceries went in big paper bags that were taken to our car by a guy with a special cart.
Every part of the shopping experience is different. There are few paper bags anymore. Service counters are few and far between and if they are staffed it’s by teenagers who know very little about their products. We pay with a debit card and put our own groceries in the car. Savings come not from coupons but from “specials” when you swipe your customer card.
Grocery shopping has adapted.
But how we pay in church has not. Nearly every store you go into takes a debit card. But I bet your church does not.
Younger folks and “newly churched” people don’t like to make a long-term commitment, but we still ask them to do that every fall. We ask them to support an institution rather than a cause that excites them.
We apologize when we ask for money, or sometimes we just don’t talk about money at all and hope it comes in. Then we get mad when it doesn’t.
J. Clif Christopher wrote “Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate” a couple of years back. I read it in less than a day on vacation and I highly recommend to anyone who does this work, whether clergy or lay volunteer.
If Buckeye Village tried to still operate like it did when I was a kid we know what its future would be. Can we really expect it to be any different for the church?