I was recently working with a parish to get started on Online Giving. The pastor had some concern about whether or not parishioners would use the system, so I met with several different people to inquire about their level of comfort. As you would expect, there was a wide mix of opinion ranging from "I won't use it" to " Absolutely! it would be great".
One of the recurring messages was about participation at Mass. The offertory is a time of full participation and sacrificial giving. People like to actively participate during this time and the envelope is the evidence of that participation. When I told people that they had the option to keep their envelopes and add "gave electronically" as a message on the envelope, there was visible relief.
As we move further into our electronic age we will have to teach more about how to use the tools while maintaining our active relationship with our parishes and our participation at Mass. The Stewardship department at the Archdiocese of St. Louis has distributed several articles and white papers on how to maintain this relationship. There is one white paper created back in 2005 that explored the impact of electronic giving tools and concluded that they have a key place in our church. The paper goes on to say that it is equally important to teach about the "need to give" and to provide the offering envelope for parishioners to use at Mass.
The key is that we continue to find ways to connect people with each other and to the parish as we celebrate our Faith. Many parishes and dioceses have anticipated the possible disconnect and have provided guidance to provide people ways to be part of the celebration.
Meanwhile, the parish has implemented Online Giving and has begun to engage parishioners to use the system. The next step is to make people comfortable that this is a great tool to use while also providing them something that helps them participate while at Mass.
How has your parish addressed this?