Tithe and offering by Epay on Lord’s Days?

Discussion in 'The Lord's Day or Christian Sabbath' started by NaphtaliPress, May 11, 2016.

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  1. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Okay; this may mean I simply don’t like new things and am a fuddy-duddy, but I confess this strikes me as more of the low estate of where the church is regarding Lord’s Day observance and not calculated to place one well on the moral high ground in dealing with individual practices on the Christian Sabbath regarding commerce, but I would like to hear what folks committed to Sabbatarianism think. This came up on a Facebook posting but FB is not well built for ease of discussion. So I thought I would bring it up here.

    Can a church use epay during the worship service on the Lord’s day and not be conducting commercial activity? Is it simply an electronic form of accepting funds “in the plate.” The argument is made that since banks are closed on the Lord’s day (here in the US) it is simply a collection and the commercial activity, fees, etc. do not occur until banks open on Monday. An analogy would be made to running the heat and a/c and electricity on the Lord’s day; that commerce is also deferred for that service.

    Epay also involves credit card, paypal and other online commerce, correct? I try to avoid having Lord’s Day ordering in my book selling as they occur real time with the service even if any bank transfers are delayed.
     
  2. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm trying to think through the mechanics of how this would work. Card readers attached to the plates? Wifi connections so folks can use tablets and phones?

    Since many millennials don't have checkbooks and frequently carry little cash, figuring out how best to discharge the diaconal duty of devising
    "effective methods of collecting the gifts of the people " is something we have wrestled with for several years.

    I wouldn't consider it commerce. It does require someone to work on the Lord's Day to maintain the network, but turning on the lights or flushing the toilets requires someone to work on the Lord's Day to maintain those networks, as well.
     
  3. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    If the transactions have fees collected live I don't see how it isn't commerce. Paypal for instance. Unless you are actively restricting the activity to something akin to just an electronic 'plate' and no actual fees and transfers are recorded, maybe it doesn't formally fit the definition; but if you are not restricting the activity in some way to guard against that, the question is mute as it is being done for convenience and nevermind about the fourth commandment.
     
  4. Toasty

    Toasty Puritan Board Sophomore

    They should get a checkbook or start carrying cash.
     
  5. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but that seems like that's saying there is a difference between
    a) electronically telling your bank to electronically transfer money when they open
    and
    b) writing on a piece of paper telling your bank to electronically transfer money when they open

    I admit it's hard for me to see a Sabbatarian argument against electronic payment, fees notwithstanding. Cash itself is an artificial construct with no inherent value. Thinking out loud:

    You're giving to the Lord. Does having a fee associated with it make it unlawful? I donate a crop of barley. There are transportation "fees" that will later be associated with that when it is actually transported, does this mean I shouldn't donate the barley?

    I donate cash. The treasurer must deposit it, which means fuel costs most likely: another bit of "commerce" even if it is deferred.

    I feel like I'm down in the weeds. What if we were a completely cashless society? No one can give to the church anymore?

    All that said, I still bring a check :p
     
  6. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    The church can be involved in commercial activity; just not on the Lord's Day. Or I guess the men from Tyre could have avoided a loss of income in arranging with their Jewish customers that the transaction was for the offering on the Sabbath and the Jerusalem gates could have stayed open. If it involves a third party getting a fee in a financial transaction, it is a commercial activity. Do it doing the week. The only reason we bring money on the Lord's day is because that was a convenient time to gather the offerings for relief of those in Jerusalem. Good a time as any to get this out of the formal worship service if it is going run square against God's fourth commandment. Pay it like a bill during the week.
     
  7. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor


    The issue would be that the initial electronic processing would occur while the bank is closed, and the fees might be deducted from the transfer when it is made. With the check, the piece of paper is going to sit in a drop safe or in the night depository until Monday morning.

    From the Chase funds availability policy "Wire transfers, electronic direct deposits, and cash deposits made with a banker or at an ATM will be available on the day
    we receive your deposit" (I don't bank with Chase, but it popped up on a Google search). https://www.chase.com/content/dam/chasecom/en/checking/documents/deposit_account_agreement.pdf

    On the other hand, a transaction with Bank of the Ozarks would appear to not run afoul of the Lord's day, since it wouldn't settle until the next business day:

    "An outstanding debit card authorization is the amount immediately deducted from your available balance while the bank waits for the final settlement request from the merchant, which can take several days. A final settlement request is an instruction from the merchant to the bank to deduct the exact amount of your final purchase. It follows after the debit card authorization request and completes the transaction. While the majority of transactions are settled within one business day, the actual timing rests with the merchant and is out of the bank’s control." http://www.bankozarks.com/important-information-about-debit-cards-and-overdraft-fees.php

    Thus a BOO transaction would be settled much like a check, on a business day.

    As for PayPal - I don't have a PayPal account and don't plan to get one, and haven't looked at their policies.
     
  8. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Live. No delay; you are doing business with Paypal essentially or any service that hits you with a fee as the transaction happens.
     
  9. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Last time I knew, a gift through Paypal had no fee associated with it.
     
  10. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    I have always thought when I have heard of the ePay system for the offering is the following: Here is a link on our website, and you can pay anytime (usually via paypal). Usually when this is an option people aren't doing this on the Lord's day, but rather whenever they want. Or even using an automatic withdraw/pay.

    This poses two problems: 1) Not bringing in an offering for the collection on the first day sabbath. 2) Each one not participating in giving, losing the action of the duty required, and forgetting about why we give in the first place.
     
  11. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    If the service provider is deducting a fee from the amount given/donated, is that not (in some sense at least) robbing from the Lord? Is it not decreasing the amount given?
     
  12. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    For sending money that is correct; I forgot as that is almost never how I use them.
    Apparently what some are doing is some wifi set up during the worship service and phone based; that is what was being discussed on FB.
     
  13. johnny

    johnny Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am told the new Pentecostal church across from where I work has card readers installed in every aisle.
    I think this question will become more relevent as we move towards a cashless society.
     
  14. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Unless you bank with a small community bank with a soft spot for churches, you are likely paying a fee for checks deposited as well. Again, for example, courtesy of Google, BofA charges on its commercial accounts 45 cents a check over a certain number based on the type of account, and even a fee on cash deposited over the set amount for that type account. So trying to distinguish a debit card fee from a check deposit fee (which in certain dollar ranges may be lower for debit cards than checks) seems less than productive. https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/resources/fees-at-a-glance.go (My assumption is that none to almost none of the churches represented on PB would have cash deposits large enough to cause problems).

    And if someone makes a gift of appreciated stock, you are going to be paying a variety of fees in connection with transferring and liquidating that asset; probably even more if it is a gift of art.

    While we haven't implemented it yet, the last briefing we had on e-giving the thoughts were to educate the membership on the various costs associated with the various methods at the various giving levels so that people can practice good stewardship in their giving.


    ----
    I do apologize for not having the information readily available, but I do recall from one briefing that the folks using e-giving (currently only available on the web site) was converting folks with no record of giving into folks who were giving, and that e-giving was showing a steady growth curve compared to traditional forms of giving.

    Little of which addresses the original question above, dealing with timing of the fees and the Lord's day, but which does address some of the ancillary issues which have arisen in the discussion.
     
  15. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    http://therightscoop.com/nc-lt-gov-responds-to-paypal-boycotting-the-state-its-totally-worth-it/

    My husband and others are boycotting Paypal after Paypal threw a fit about the NC bathroom laws. They won't use it the other six days of the week, never mind Sunday. I just pray for undeserved mercy all the time- the banks are in bed with the FED which is stealing money from savers through inflation, but we can't not use a bank. There is none righteous, no not one. Unless you only take silver dollars or gold coins or commodities for an offering, it is hard to escape the system.
     
  16. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    I don't want to derail the thread; just a quick question. Lynnie, do you know of an alternative to Paypal that's as reliable and safe to use? Or are we stuck with mailing checks for now? (And yeah, I agree with the comments about being caught in a net of sin. It seems impossible or unnessarilly difficult to carry out a consistent ethical boycott against everything; perhaps another thread could explore this idea of consistently boycotting things.)
     
  17. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Rich is helping me to add an alternative to Paypal to my sites and it is called stripe. Same fee structure without the baggage; not yet at least and of course that is going to be the problem.
     
  18. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Hub doesn't know an alternative; every place he used Paypal also takes a credit card. Paypal is supposedly safer, and is easier.....although hacking is a risk with anything.

    I didn't mean to derail the thread, sorry. I know based on our experience with fraud prevention with our bank (they are really good, anything on the credit card out of state and they call us quick) that there are real live human beings all the time keeping an eye on things. If we buy something even right across the river in PA (I am in NJ) w/o entering our zip code for security, it is often tagged as potential fraud and an automatic message calls us and we have to call back a live human. If you set up a credit card way to pay at church, you would have to ask visitors from out of state not to donate, or get some feature where they put in their zip code, if you want to stop any human response due to fraud alerts.
     
  19. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Regardless of banks being closed, the issue is during the service. As I have issues with "passing the plate", I'd say both are wrong. One would be more preoccupied with monetary issues then with worship. Also, you still create a transaction online which is commerce.
     
  20. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Agreed. Giving should be in private. Many small Korean churches have a box near the door so people can leave their tithe before going into the sanctuary. No one is there watching. (Matt. 6:4)

    Passing the plate gives many people, especially unbelievers, the wrong impression: 'Is this about God or money?'
     
  21. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    I have a friend who dislikes the passing of the plate during, or following, the worship service. OTOH, the pastor needs to be paid, and the church to be supported. Deuteronomy 25:4, 1 Corinthians 9:9, 1 Timothy 5:18 From what I've heard, there is no more efficient way to accomplish that end. At least not within the congregation I attend.
     
  22. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

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