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Technology an Answer to Canada’s Church Decline?

A recent article in The Canadian Lutheran magazine painted a dreary picture. Between 2001 and 2011, those self-identifying as Christian, dropped 10 percent in Canada. 24 percent of Canadians now identify as having no religion.

“The situation is clear: the Christian Church in general is facing a crisis in Canada,” was the summary statement offered by Matthew Block, editor of The Canadian Lutheran magazine and communications manager for Lutheran Church-Canada.

This decline shows no respect for denominational preference either. Between 2003 and 2013, the top denominations in Canada all saw declines in membership numbers:

  • 18% drop in the Lutheran Church of Canada
  • 32% drop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • 29% drop in the United Church of Canada
  • 20% drop in the Anglican Church
  • 13% drop in the Baptist Church

While there’s never an easy fix to a large scale problem such as this, we at Pushpay believe technology can be a part of the solution. Our confidence comes from an assumption that technology, specifically in regards to the mobile phone, is an underutilized tool in the church which, when used correctly, has the ability to make participation easier.  Could something as simple as technology finally reverse these 10-year long declines? Let’s quantify the potential impact.

How Big of an Impact Could Updated Technology Make for Churches in Canada?

In 2014, 55 percent of Canadians owned a smartphone. In 2015, that number increased to 68 percent. And yet, based on one recent analysis of 92 Christian charities, 58 percent were not using mobile responsive websites. From the opening line of the findings, “Overall, the most striking figure of our study, and the area of greatest potential improvement for the charities studied, would be to improve the mobile giving experience.”

In fact, a 2014 report by DonorDrive suggests that upgrading to a responsive website could double mobile giving.

The State of Giving in Canada

In our own six-week research study, we asked 26 Canadian church leaders to first to comment on the state of tithing in Canada, and then on the digital offering tools available to them.
Here are a few of the answers we received:

  • “We need help.”
  • “The younger demographic are not consistent givers and tend to give less.”
  • “Except for churches that ‘do guilt,’ people are not inclined to use Biblical guidance for tithing amounts.”
  • “There needs to be a quick mobile option that doesn’t require 15 passwords and your first born.”
  • “It’s poor. Only a small select percentage actually faithfully tithe, others give.”
  • “Not a lot of people give on a regular basis but I believe if there was an easier, more accessible solution then there would be a greater number of givers.”
  • “I think giving is overall on par with where it always has been within Canadian church culture: enough to get by, but always in need of more and better ways to make giving easier and less cumbersome, especially for younger (Millennial) Canadians.”
  • “There has been a definite drop in giving over the past years – partially due to the economy.”
  • “Overall giving is down in our church environment.”

Overall, the pastors rated their level of concern with the state of giving in Canada as a 7.69 out of 10, and yet, the digital tools available to them at only a 2.35 out of 5.

Yet perhaps the most telling answer was the unanimous response to the question, “Do you think the need exists for another digital/giving solution for Canadian churches?” 100 percent said yes.

We Are Now Serving Canadian Churches

This data, while daunting, is not discouraging to us. We see huge potential and opportunity for churches in Canada to experience a revival in participation and giving. We’re excited to announce that we are now able to serve Canadian churches. In fact, we’ve already got a handful of churches piloting the software, including Surrey based Calvary Christian Church.

Curt Roma, Calvary’s Director, had this to say about their choice to adopt Pushpay, “There is a demand for new solutions because the banks and credit unions don’t do a good enough job in the products that they offer in helping churches reach the 80 percent of people who don’t give on a regular basis.”

If you’re not already familiar with Pushpay, we provide churches with a mobile-friendly way to collect tithes and offerings. Our software supports online, text, mobile app, and kiosk giving. In churches that we work with, we see dramatic increases in both first-time givers and recurring gifts.  Because of this, we offer a 5 percent annual increase guarantee. If your church’s overall annual giving doesn’t go up by at least 5 percent, we’ll refund our monthly software fees back to you.

Discover what your church can do to encourage healthy, long-term growth. Download the free ebook, 7 Ways To Beat Church Decline, today!

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