How Recent Digital Banking Trends Affect Your Church

How Recent Digital Banking Trends Affect Your Church

Your church likely isn’t watching the shifting banking world of the UK.

But you should.

And you should keep your eye on what’s happening in the American banking market, too.

Because it’s changing fast—very fast.

And those changes tell us something important about giving in our churches.

Adjusting to the Change in Customer Behavior

Just this month, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) announced it would close 30 additional branches in Scotland. That follows an announcement last December that it would close 259 branches—one quarter of its total UK branches—in 2018.

Why?

In a word: Mobile

According to an RBS spokesperson, UBS banks interact with their customers “over 20 times more through digital channels than physical ones.”

The spokesperson went on to say, “As customers change the way they bank with us, we must change the way we serve them.”

Before you chalk that up to a UK trend like tea time and cricket, note this: According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of US bank branches dropped by 1,700 in the 12 months prior to June 2017.

Banks are closing physical branches everywhere. And the reasoning is the same in nearly every case. People no longer feel the need to go into a physical branch when they can do just about all banking tasks from their mobile devices.

Banking has become just one example of the scores of industries disrupted by technology. (Toys “R” Us this year and Sears last year have been two large and recent examples of iconic 20th-century brands crashing because, at least in part, the digital and mobile shopping explosion.)

The Church Disrupted by Digital Tech

No sector of society is immune from the digital disruption of the past two decades and the mobile transformation of the last ten years. The church is no exception. In fact, church strategist Tony Morgan argues that the church has been a perfect candidate for digital disruption because, among other reasons, many churches are dependent upon long-standing non-digital ministry systems.

Even some of the fastest growing churches of the past two decades are noting the disruption. During a recent Pushpay webinar, North Point lead pastor Clay Scroggins noted that church attendance has changed in recent years. Scroggins attributes this to the variety of new, digital methods now available for people to engage with the church.

“There is a ‘digital disruption’ taking place in our church causing attendance not to decline but to change,” Scroggins said.

Note that the digital disruption impacting North Point comes to a church that was born in 1995. The entire life of the church has been lived within the Internet Revolution of the past two decades.  

A Befuddling Question for the Church

But the disruption in the church gets even clearer when you look at giving. Pushpay and Dunham+Company recently released the 2018 Digital Giving Trends in the Church, which shows that almost three-quarters of churches now have online giving. And those churches are giving more, giving to more different funds, and giving more consistently. Mobile giving is also showing gains.

But only 15 percent of the money donated to US churches is coming from digital means.

It leaves all of us who care about the church with a staggering question:

If an unprecedented number of bank branches are closing because mobile banking has taken over…

If people now spend more than five hours a day on their mobile phones…

If three-quarters of US churches (and 90 percent of churches with more than 200 average attendees) have digital giving options…

If people who give online give more…

…then why are only 15 percent of the funds donated to churches given digitally?

The Windows 95 Experience at Church

Only one answer makes sense to that question. Banks and stores have consistently provided better digital and mobile giving solutions than churches. The people in our churches are using the latest technology throughout their week to make banking transactions, buy what they need, and plan travel.

But when they come to church, they’re asked to engage with sub-par technology. And overwhelmingly, they’re choosing not to do so. They’d rather drop a check or cash in the offering plate than give through technology that is difficult to use and confusing.

“People who go to church are using great technology, but when they actually go to church, they’re getting a Windows 95 experience,” says Pushpay co-founder Chris Heaslip.

Think about the enterprise-level technologies, particularly mobile apps, people use on a regular basis. They’re simple and quick to use. You can do whatever you need to do in a minuscule amount of time. They’re also reliable. They rarely crash. You don’t have to worry about how carefully they treat your financial information because they consistently treat it with care.

You may be thinking, “Why does it matter if my church offers a Windows 95 experience?” If they don’t give digitally, they’ll just drop their money in the offering plate, right?

Not so fast.

The data shows mobile givers in particular and digital givers in general give more. These givers who are turned off by your church’s digital giving experience are choosing not to give or to give less when they would.

That’s a problem.

God is leading people to give, and they’re being stymied by a poor giving experience.

Unless your church has all the funds it needs to do everything you’re called to do, it’s a problem you should do something about.

Pushpay has built its giving platform with a mobile-first mindset. The entire system is designed to nurture a giver’s journey from a non-giver to occasional giver to mobile giver to recurring giver to an above-and-beyond giver. It’s a platform that gives church mobile users the same best-of-class experience they’ve grown accustomed to from other mobile apps.

For more information about the Pushpay mobile experience, talk to a mobile-giving expert today.

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Tobin Perry
Tobin Perry
Writer at Pushpay | tobin@tobinperry.com |

Tobin Perry has been a writer and editor in Christian media for almost 20 years. He has worked for the North American Mission Board, Saddleback Church and the International Mission Board in a variety of editorial capacities. An ordained minister, he has also served as a lead pastor at a church in Southern Indiana. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Gateway Seminary. Tobin currently lives in Evansville, IN with his wife, Charissa, and three children.