There was a time when you could tell the relative health of a church with a glance. Many churches had a board, often on the front wall, announcing the weekly attendance, average attendance, contribution and budget. It was easy to know the weekly attendance, you just counted everyone who walked through the door. The contribution was easy as well, the money put in the plate was counted.
Things changed with the pandemic. With health concerns, we began to meet online. This was an avenue of meeting and communicating that we hadn’t previously considered. It wasn’t the same as worshiping together in one auditorium, but it helped to fill the void of not being able to come together. An unforeseen surprise was the numbers tuning into our worship who weren’t previously associated with the church. We noticed there were even those in foreign countries joining us each week.
Gradually, we were finally able to come together in person again. Even now, with the worst of the threat past, some have been hesitant to worship in person. Just how many meet with us online each week is hard to calculate, but there are still some surprises. One unforeseen thing has been those who have never joined us in person, but now consider Oregon City their church home. When I’m asked today how many members are here, it’s easy to count the number of members coming through the doors, but it’s another matter when it comes to those online. Some have contacted us about their intention to continue to worship with us online. We have found out about others when they began sending their contributions here.
This has led to another challenge. What is our weekly contribution? There’s not a plate passed around anymore and there are more methods for giving. Of course, we still count how much is put in the box each Sunday. Then there are those who mail in their contributions. Still others give online through our website using the “Tithe.ly” app. Some still give weekly, but others have found it more convenient to give everything once a month and still a few give once a year or in other intervals. It isn’t always clear for a few weeks as to whether the budget is being met. When a downward trend was shared by the elders, many quickly responded by increasing their giving. As we move forward, we will be striving hard to have more transparency and communication as to how the financial needs of the church are being met.