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January 6, 2011

Should Churches Accept Credit Cards for Tithing?

How different churches are responding to plastic for giving.


As more churches embrace electronic giving for their congregations, a number find themselves asking an intriguing question: Should they use e-giving options that allow people to tithe with credit cards?

We asked a number of church leaders whether credit cards are appropriate due to the debt people take on when they use them. Many said they didn't see the issue as a problem, citing a number of reasons. Chief among them: A belief that many people in their congregations responsibly use credit cards; that they pay balances off fully every month as a means of pocketing the points and other incentives offered by banks (and, in many instances, they pocket these rewards and donate them to the church, such as airline miles for missions trips).

But we also found a couple of examples of where church leaders said credit cards were unacceptable.

In an informal, unscientific poll conducted on YourChurch.net, 44 percent said credit cards were an acceptable option for church giving, while 34 percent said debit cards were fine, but credit cards were not, and 18 percent said plastic of any kind was a no-no.

How does your church treat this topic?

Related Tags: contributions, donations, donors, e-giving, finance, finances, fundraising, generosity, giving, tithes


Here is an update to our unscientific poll last week on YourChurch.net about this topic:

- We received 157 votes. Here were the responses:

Do you believe credit cards are acceptable for church giving?



No—but debit cards are acceptable.

I don't know.

No, but debits cards could be acceptable because it is just like writing a check.

This question only arises because a portion of the population uses credit cards irresponsibly. To deny all donors the option of using credit cards (and the accompanying perks that may accrue to the donor) is the equivalent of saying we will not allow any desserts to be served at church dinners because a portion of the congregation over indulges. The church should avoid passing judgment on what forms of payment are acceptable, providing they are legal and ethical commercial transactions. Our focus should be on addressing the underlying problem, not the symptoms.

I believe there is nothing wrong with it. It is an option of the tither. If it works for them to do it this way, what's wrong with that.

No. "Paying off your credit card every month" doesn't count either. It's debt, whether or not you paid interest on it. One is presuming the future when they claim they pay it off every month. If you have the money to pay it off, then just give the money. Tax deductions? Convenience? Don't worry about that. Just give as the Spirit leads.

The problem is certainly not the method of how one gives, but there could be a problem in how the money is spent, which has nothing to do with the giver.

All through time other things other than the exact money itself has been used
by the giver. Bartering is not what we are doing, just giving back to God.

I had a professor in Bible College (Course Christian Ethics)
Statement: "when you make commerce of the gospel; you make the gospel of none effect" Churches use of CC's is just another spoke on that wheel.

I am very surprised that a bible-believing church would even consider accepting credits cards as a means of tithing. How about Proverbs 22:7 'the borrower is slave to the lender'? I have done budget couseling with many, many individuals and the source of the problem is ALWAYS spending more than you earn and using credit cards. I have seen so many lives ruined because of debt and to even think that a church would consider allowing someone to become a slave so that they might be able to balance their budget is very bothersome. All you have to do is spend 2 minutes on a website of a reputable Christian budeting ministry like Dave Ramsey or Crown ministries to see that what they are even suggesting lacks a great deal of wisdom.

As the senior pastor I resisted allowing a debit/credit card machine in the church and having online giving. But I kept getting requests for both. We have found that many younger adults don’t carry checks or cash – they mainly use a debit card.

So after putting it off for a year we finally now allow both. At our “Giving Center” we have a notice saying we prefer they use a debit card. We go on to say, we don’t want them to get into credit card debt even if it is to the church and to use credit wisely. We also have a booklet at the debit machine called “Financial Freedom” that explains how to use money and credit wisely.

1.If you are to poor to give a few dollars to your church
you need it more than they do.
2. It is just another sign that we are on our way to a cashless society
3. It will be a way for the goverment to see how much people are giving to their church,once you go electronic
the goverment is checking out where the money is flowing

Credit cards assure the church's income, but may add to the giver's debt. Church leadership should recommend VISA/ MC debit cards. This assures giving without debt.

what is our churches becoming? they are just like the rest of the world a MEGA ,LARGE, BIG, BUSINESS PROMOTING ALL THE FUN AND THRILLS EXCITEMENT A CIRCUS A LOT OF THE TIME .I wonder what the LORD if was sitting in the pews on tv on the internet would think ? shame on the church its respondability

Get Real! Being a pastor of a church - I think this question is really ridiculous. The Bible warns against being in debt or usury to others - I realize that yes that having a moderate home one can afford and a car in many cases is needed to get around in for work and helping others. But credit cards themselves are one of the major reasons this country is in such terrible financial trouble that it is in - case in point is our government who knows no limit when it comes to credit abuse. God's people should practice modesty and restraint and avoid the use of credit cards for money they may not have later to pay the bill when due - you are responsible! At least with debit cards the money is actually there, and there is some thought before using it, but in credit cards that is not necessarily true in most cases. The spend now and pay later mentality needs to be addressed and fiscal responsiblity especially among God's people must be maintained - it is an effective witness to our unsaved friends and family members.

As Lay Leader of a small congregation, I think that when someone opens their wallet or checkbook to give an offering or tithe, that there is a sense of direction from the Spirit that prompts someone how much to give. There are times as well, when the Spirit asks us to give sacrifically. I would say that that would be hard to do when someone puts it on plastic and then may choose to pay it over time. In so doing, it may become a burden to the giver. I also wonder if in so doing, people consider it a 'payment' and not a true offering unto the LORD.

As Lay Leader of a small congregation, I beleive that when someone opens their wallet or checkbook to give, that there is a leading of the Spirit on how much to give. Sometimes it also means giving sacrifically. I don't think giving sacrificially included the option to 'pay over time.'
Some households and churches alike are okay to take on debt, but I would be cautious of people giving tithes or offerings via credit card as it could easily become debt. Also, as food for thought: Is it really an offering unto the LORD to give in this manner?

For those churches accepting debit or credit cards, exactly how do they accomplish this during the Sunday Service?

No CREDIT card for tithing. Debit, yes...

I don't think there is a yes or no answer. Sometimes we forget to write the check because we have a tithe box instead of passing the plate to put our money. So I think for us it would be a good idea however our church doesn't have credit card system. But if they had it we'd probably use it but I can see where people should evaluate their situation and act according to their situation. It should also be easy for to opp out of system without any questions or guilt applied to them by church members, which can happen as you well know.

We have been using credit cards in Australia for the last 10 years for giving. Churches need to educate their members on financial management and stewardship as part of this though.

Debit is ok but not credit cards

Knowing that you are a slave to debtors makes me very uncomfortable that the church would be willing to put people in the potential position of having more than one master...that is truly seldom taught and when you find out who owns the "credit" company - you might be shocked. For example, I believe that Citifinacial was or is owned by a Sheik in Middle East.

Cash is the way to go, take the money for God of the top and He won't fail you. We have experienced it time and time again. And just in case you think you won't be tested to keep doing that...you will be...we know that from experience too!

Whitby, ON

No way!!! Churches that allow people to use credit cards to pay their tithes and, etc. are creating more problems than they are solving by seemingly cosigning with the credit card companies high interest rates if the balance is not paid off within a certain time period. Thus, keeping their members in bondage to dept with is against biblical teachings. Specifically, scripture states that the borrower is a slave to the lender. It is better to use a debit card though because it is the same as cash and you do not incur any unwanted interest rates unless you give emotionally, knowing you have no money and incur a NSF fee.

I don't think tithing using credit cards is biblically-accepted. Giving of tithes, according to Malachi 3:10 clearly says, 'bring in the tithes' which requires the physical presence of the tither. Tithing is about the believer's attitude of honoring God with his material possession and the act of bringing it, even laying it on to the altar, should be done with reverence of mind and heart.

We use paper money instead of gold, trusting our government to stand behind the paper. We sign for mortgages, time payments for cars, and even tax payments instead of paying the whole amount up front. The promise to pay is no different in plastic, to my way of thinking. It is a matter of responsibility (vs. good but unrealistic intentions) of the payer and trust of the payee. A more basic question is whether or not the Christian organization is responsible to eliminate a temptation for the irresponsible weak. Paul would seem to indicate that, yet does one facilitate their weakness by eliminating the opportunity or facilitate strength by education and oversight? The latter is more risky and difficult, but I believe the more responsible, loving and appropriate approach.

I don't think that Churches should be accepting credit card payment for tithes - perhaps for other things such as concerts. Debit cards are acceptable since they are like cash. Tithes should be first fruits and the giver should not be incurring interest charges on gifts to God.

If a church is not going to accept credit card donations - should they also refuse personal checks?
A personal check is a contract with the bank that the bank will give the depositor that amount of money from the account of the payor. If the "contract" for the same transaction from a credit card account is wrong, then the same "contract" from a bank is wrong. The issue of assuming personal debit is the responsibility of the person in debt, not the church.

I am always suspect of a church that takes a position of demanding unrealistic conduct of those who choose to belong.

There are several Biblical principles at play here, but the appropriate-ness of using credit cards to pay the tithes and offerings to the church is probably an individual spiritual matter. That is because different individuals are in different places with their stewardship of God's resources. For some, paying off cards in full each month and donating earned points/miles to the church - it may be no problem.

Beyond this though, members who use cards should be made aware that they're giving 3% of the amount to the bank or other card processing agent ... and not to the church. In fact, if it were my church, I'd reduce the annual or quarterly giving statements to reflect the actual cash benefit the church received - net of the card charges that went to the processor.

I realize I am late to the game by a little over a year, but as I read through the comments I couldn't help but notice the lack of Scriptural references to how the Bible says we are to give. Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse..."
It seems that God wants us to physically attend the service and physically give the tithe in the Church (which would exclude online giving of tithes). The tithe is not a bill, but an act of worship to our Heavenly Father. Proverbs 3:9 "Honor the Lord with thy substance and with the firstfruits of all thine increase." This is not a payment to be deducted at the end of the month (which would exclude giving on credit). 2 Corinthians 9:7 "...God loveth a cheerful giver." The word cheerful literally means "hilarious". The tithe is not something given out of obligation, but out of cheerful love and excitement over how God will use our finances to spread the Gospel and enrich our local church ministry!

There are somethings that will NEVER change and that is the BIBLE. Technology can change the world for all I care, but conducting the exchange of money in the church is not proper. As a christian the most appropiate thing is to either write a check or place the money in an envelope. Let us be mindful of Matthew 21:12-13. God house is not a house to do such business. To me, that is like going to the store and purhcasing a piece of merchandise then placing yourself in debt or the possibly of INSF. Churches please don't go there it is not in the will of God. God want his people to be free not in slaved. I have come acrossed individuals who have sincerely prayed to God for financial deliverance. Please don't tell me that it is okay to stand in line in a church and swipe a card. That is interrupting with the flow of the spirit. I don't care debit or credit need not be conducted in the church. God's house is a house of prayer and worship and not to stand in line waiting to swipe a card that is doing business in the church and killing the spirit. Churches that do that better be careful what they are doing in the church.

God bless

No matter what, the church must pay a transaction fee of 2 or 3% to receive your funds via credit card. The only reason I can see that a church would pay the fee is because they are so desperate for your money, that they cannot get you to write a check. So ask yourself, is the a bible preaching church?

2 Cor. 9:7 states You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. "For God loves a person who gives cheerfully."

1 Cor. 8:9 states Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

While some of you are still a slave to debt, others may exercise your "right" to use a credit card. I pray that the slaves to debt are not enticed by the snare of a credit card and are truly giving with a "cheerful" motive.

I'm personally OK with the credit card machine being used but if it causes my brother to stumble...hmmm.

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