TICKER: Offering time: Bishop says churches need to install bank card machines

A church service wouldn’t be a church service without the sight of a collection plate or bag being passed down the aisles during a hymn.

But such a method of raising funds may be nearing the end of the line as religious institutions wake up to the realities of the 21st century.

According to one senior bishop, churches must start investing in bank card swipe machines if they are to reach their ever technology-hungry congregations.

They may even have to allow mobile phones to be used during the service so people can donate by text.

The Right Reverend Stephen Lowe, retired Church of England bishop for urban life and faith, told The Times: ‘We have not got the gear to receive the donations.

‘How much longer can we keep passing the plate when people have not got the cash?’

The warning comes after research by JustGiving, which raises money for charities online, shows that cash flows to religious causes are booming, but just not in the traditional way.

Donations have increased by 128 per cent over the past five years, with many pensioners leading the way in online philanthropy.

The over-60s have outstripped those of any other age group by nearly three times.

Internet donations have also been bolstered by Britain’s 2.4million Muslims whose practice of Zakat generated nearly £1million in 2010 and 2011.

The dilemma is not new in Sweden, however, where churches have already installed card readers to make it easier for worshippers to donate as the country moves towards becoming a cashless society.

Speaking earlier this year, Vicar Johan Tyrberg, of the Carl Gustaf Church in Karlshamn, southern Sweden, said: ‘People came up to me several times and said they didn’t have cash, but would still like to donate money.’

Daily Mail

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