No matter where in the world you live, we all have 2020 in common now. We lived it, breathed it, and are probably tired of reading about it. However, our new shared experience gives us a unique opportunity past generations didn’t have. If hindsight is 20/20, then hindsight in the digital age is akin to an industrial microscope. Every strategy and every success story is accessible instantaneously and housed forever online. We can learn from these stories and boldly try them ourselves
When it comes to advances in software and technology, research shows that faith-based congregations have a quickly growing online presence. (delmethod.com).In 2020, we saw a huge uptick in the online presence of many congregations. One such success story comes out of Hickory, NC at Mt. Pisgah Lutheran Church. Pastor Mike and Deacon Donovan Douglas sat down with Frank Barry of Tithe.ly to share how Mt. Pisgah adapted to serve the ELCA and their local community.
As Pastor Mike puts it, “We all remember exactly where we were” when life drastically changed due to COVID. One week his congregation was meeting in person, and the next they were rushing to stream services to a community in the throes of a pandemic. Along with streaming worship services, they needed to stay connected with their congregation and provide a way to give. That’s where Tithe.ly stepped in.
Your Personal Guide to Online Giving
Tithe.ly is proud to partner with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and was ready to help when Mt. Pisgah needed solutions. Donovan shared their experience with Tithe.ly’s All Access Plan, “We were able to ease into the process. We had an immediate need for giving, and we had other things we were wanting to do.” The first step for most congregations is to set up electronic giving. In fact, during the pandemic, nearly 100 percent of giving was done online (delmethods.com). The opportunity cost for not adapting was too great, and the process was too easy to pass up.
Donovan and Pastor Mike found that virtual meetings provided a timely opportunity to play catch-up in their giving technology, and people adapted quickly. What they found was a team ready to help and a congregation willing to learn.
In some ways, churches broke out of their four walls more than ever last year. You can now attend any congregation, regardless of location. This means an expanded reach for congregations worldwide. Pastor Mike found that to be the case for Mt. Pisgah when he stated, “We’ve had people give through Tithe.ly that we don’t even know.” With membership extending beyond the four walls of the congregation, there is a need for mobile giving, even when in-person meetings return. Those members from out of state? They might be here to stay.
You can learn more about Tithe.ly’s giving capabilities here.
Building a Site Everyone will Love
With online giving up and running, it was time to focus on a website. ELCA wanted one that was easy to navigate, automatically updated, and graphically appealing. They were able to check those boxes by building under the Tithe.ly All Access Plan. Pastor Mike shared a relevant truth in saying that a website is “as much for the outsider as it is for the member”. Visitors check out websites before ever setting foot in a congregation. They should be able to navigate it with ease and have all their questions answered. Mt. Pisgah’s new website allowed more people to watch their services, and it kept their congregation updated when they couldn't meet in person.
Tithe.ly’s site builder is intuitive to set up and seamless to implement.
Making Your Church Mobile
Another All Access feature Mt. Pisgah rolled out last year was the Church App. The App keeps everything members need at their fingertips. One of the most popular features is the automatic syncing of the website to the app. If you upload a new video to YouTube, it goes directly to your site and automatically publishes it to your app. All without you lifting a finger.
Donovan found that the congregation enjoyed all the app has to offer. “Once they have it loaded, they love it, and they’re asking for more!” It also allows leaders and pastors to do the work of caring for their people, and less time managing tech issues.
Bridging the Technology Gap
Mt. Pisgah took on a daunting task that all congregations faced last year. How do we continue to faithfully steward our people in a time when in-person meetings cannot happen consistently? With Tithe.ly as a guide, they navigated the new terrain and kept their congregation moving forward, even when it felt like the world stood still.
“I think we all have a new appreciation for what online means and the importance of it for evangelism or stewardship. It’s going to change the way we do church on the other side of this too, even in person.” - Pastor Mike
Now, Mt. Pisgah is looking ahead to what else they could lean into with Tithe.ly All Access. This includes their kid's camp registration/payments, as well as offering their popular Christmas program on an online platform as well as in person. All this can happen without having a dedicated tech team. As Donovan puts it, “It doesn’t take a technology professional to do it.”
Today’s generations, and tomorrows, want to engage in the church. Remove as many roadblocks as possible by making it easy for them to attend, take part, and give. We’ll be there to guide you each step of the way.
“I’d like to encourage anyone to just be a little bit brave” - Donovan Douglas
A special thanks to Ps Mike and Donovan Douglas at Mt. Pisgah and the ELCA for taking the time to share their story. You can learn more about the ELCA here and visit Mt. Pisgah’s website here.