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Cashless platforms: How churches transit and benefit

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Bishop Lawrence Osagie

Since the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) cashless policy became operational, many Nigerians no longer carry physical cash around. This trend has also been embraced by the church; where platforms such as Point of Sale (POS) Internet transfers have replaced payment of cash. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using POS and other online payments in church? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.

‘POS Enhances Accountability’
(Bishop Sunny Faith Ugbah, Bishop, Church of God Mission International Incorporated (CGMII), Akwa Ibom Bishopric Headquarters)
The use of Point of Sale (POS) in churches should be encouraged. The global economy is going cashless, and the church members are part of the society.

So, using POS in churches is a very convenient and safe way for worshippers to make financial contributions to the church. 

It reduces stress and risk of cash management by church staff. It also enhances accountability. But care should be taken in its use during church sessions to avoid distractions and irreverence. 1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJV)

40 “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

‘It’s A Matter Of Convenience Not Because Of Stealing’
(Rev. (Mrs.) Roselyn Oduyemi, General Overseer, Bethel Worship Centre For All Nations, Lekki, Lagos)

I have used it in church. For me, it is a question of convenience. Sometime, people forget their offering at home. Sometime, you are late for church and in the process you forget your offering.

It has happened to me before, but right where you are seated, you can just make your payment. So, it makes things easier.

Our members are using POS to pay their offering or tithes. I am yet to see any disadvantage. It facilitates things. In our church, we use it as a means of convenience, and not because of stealing.

As long as you have human beings, who are not flawless, you are bound to have such issues as misappropriation and the likes. But really, any usher that wants to steal offering, it is between him/her and God. Personally, I don’t bother about those things.

But POS is basically for convenience, especially, where you have all these young people, who prefer POS. Anybody that wants to steal will do so, regardless of the method, as it’s a mindset.

The Bible says it is a terrible thing to fall into the hand of the living God.

It is money meant for God’s work and so if they steal it, it is between them and God. All over the world, people are moving towards cashless society. Some people don’t like carrying money about, which is why I said it is for convenience. Some people also use cheque.

‘Online Payment Reduces Opportunities For Criminals To Rob People Carrying Cash’
(Bishop Lawrence Osagie, Presiding Bishop, Powerline Bible Church, Worldwide)

PEOPLE transfer money directly from their accounts to church account. Everything technology has brought about is aimed at making things and life convenient for humanity and the populace, the church inclusive.

All these opportunities are made available to Christians and members of churches to take advantage of.

That does not stop them from doing their direct offerings and tithes in the church. But if they find it more convenient to go through those channels, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

The advantages are that it gives you all the privacy to do whatever you want to do for God.

Secondly, it provides security for churches, particularly the big ones, if there are situations where people prone to criminality hang around to invade churches.

These systems and channels cut them off and that is what I think probably would be one of the benefits of this process. It is not like it adds more money to the ministry or anything. It’s just for convenience sake.

For example, I have had cases of some of my members, who travelled out of the country and from wherever they were; they transferred money to the church’s account, using their phones, which is good. It’s to the benefit of everybody. It is part of the cashless society thing that the CBN is introducing, which is good because in a way it cuts down on the opportunities for criminals to take advantage of people carrying cash all around.

On the other hand, however, people are warning and insinuating that this system will eventually lead to a global situation where people’s lives would be controlled from somewhere, because all what you are doing through technology and online is being monitored and all that. But I don’t subscribe to that.

‘It Will Not Completely Eradicate Stealing In Churches’
(Pastor Tom Okonkwo, General Overseer, Resurrection Power of God Ministry, Lagos) 

The church, like the society, is full of the good, the bad and the ugly, starting from the ushers, who collect offerings and so on, to the select few who are responsible for counting all the money collected.

We have heard of cases, where some of these people helped themselves from the money that passes through their hands. These custodians and handlers of money in the church pilfer out of greed and covetousness.

It is often said that what you do not see does not hurt. So, why not keep money out of the reach of such “weak” Christians through the use of POS and other online payments. Though this method of payment will not completely eradicate stealing in the church, but to a very large extent, it will reduce its occurrence. With time, they may eventually drop the habit of stealing. One may then say POS has helped to keep such people away from prison, if you know what it means.

In a way, you can liken this method to Federal Government’s policy of paying all income generated by its agencies into one single account in the Central Bank.

Here, the aim is also to drastically reduce corruption. Just like in the church, most civil servants and politicians in sensitive positions are very corrupt.

The risk or danger in paying large sums of money in cash to the church is grave. It could attract armed robbers to the church. We have read about such incidents in some churches, but if it is online payment, the identity of the payer is protected.

This modern technology of transaction in the system has starved armed robbers of free funds that usually flow in the society.

In summary, in this era of cashless society, it behooves the church to follow suit and run with time, so that she will not be left behind. She has to follow this modern trend because of its numerous advantages.

‘Cashless Payment Certainly Reduces Chances Of Pilfering’
(Rt. Rev. Monsignor John Aniagwu, Vicar General, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos/Parish Priest of St. Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos)

Cashless payment in our church is used for certain categories of payments, such as tithes, donations, harvest offerings and things like that. But it doesn’t take the place of offertory collection during the actual mass or our services on Sunday.

So, those who wish to give cash can still do so. Some other people prefer writing cheques and presenting them in the collection bags or just like Federal Government or CBN will encourage people to have as much as possible.

It is not only to eliminate fraud or stealing, it is also unwieldy carrying too much cash around. It is tidier to make certain categories of payments using cheques, POS or indirect transfer from their accounts. So, we encourage it.

Advantages are that you don’t need to carry cash around, apart from the fact that it is open to pilfering. Then, there is the issue of counting and going to the bank to deposit the money.

It is more practical to use cashless payment than to use cash payment and of course, the less cash available the less it can be stolen. If you don’t have too much cash, the tendency for people to steal is reduced, whereas if you have a lot of cash, the tendency is for it to be stolen.

So, cashless payment certainly reduces the chances of pilfering.

‘It’s Quite Useful If Used Properly’
(Pastor Brown Oghene Oyitso, Special Assistant to the General Overseer-Missions/Pastor-in-Charge of RCCG, Region 19.

We are currently in the ‘I Generation.’ This is the information and technology generation.

Therefore, you shouldn’t shy away from technology. Anybody, any organisation or any organism that tries to downplay the impact of information and technology in this age is going to be left behind.

Therefore, churches should embrace modern systems and modern ways of administering the church, as long as such systems or methods do not go against or contradict the word of God.

Daniel 12:4, says, “even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” The church has won the spiritual warfare. It must not be seen to be losing the intellectual warfare.

I don’t think that churches using POS device are doing so because they think their workers are stealing their funds.

The POS device is quite useful if used properly. It’s more helpful for churches to receive large amounts of funds via cheques or through the POS device.

It’s more helpful for purposes of accounting accountability. It’s less risky using the POS or other financial instruments that I can call “near money” rather than carrying huge amounts around just because you want to support your church’s building project. These are the days of virtual churches. This is the era of on-line giving.

Today’s youths hardly move around with large sums of money in their pockets or in their handbags.

A church that wants to attract youths must modernise its systems without compromising or watering down the word of God. The youths represent the future.

The POS device is an easy, simplified and safe way of transacting financial business. Churches should embrace the use of it, if they can administer such effectively and efficiently without going against the word of God.


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