Thursday, July 21, 2011

Remember Travel Agencies?

Years ago, if I had to take a trip that involved a flight, I found the simplest way to book the tickets was to go to a travel agent. My local agent would look on her computer at the airlines and find the flight that best suited my need. Since I either didn't have a computer at the time, the travel agent saved me time on the phone shopping with various airlines.

She would select my flight, book my rental car and make the hotel reservations right there from her desk. It was simple. All I had to do was either drive to her office or call her on the phone.

And there was an abundance of agencies in the area competing for my business. Every shopping center, it seemed had a travel agent renting a storefront.

Today I looked up Travel Agents in the yellow pages. Guess what? In our phone book there is one listed...something called "Cruises Inc". One, and they specialize in one thing. What happened?

Of course, you know the answer. The internet, with .coms like Travelocity, CheapSeats, Kayak, etc. put the travel agent out of business. Now I can book my flights, rent my car, and reserve my room or choose my cabin online in the comfort of my home at my convenience. I haven't been to a travel agent in years.

I'm sorry for the travel agents, but it's not a bad thing. It's just the way technology has changed how we do life. Convenience, as far as I'm concerned, is a good thing in my busy life.

And who writes checks anymore? Most of us no longer carry cash, but use a debit card. Our regular household bills are paid by automatic bank withdrawal. That's another way technology has changed how we do life.

Like most areas of life, the church is usually the last to catch on. (Are you still sitting on 17th century pews?) At my church we have web sites, blogs and more than one Facebook group. So, we're not totally in the dark ages. But, I'm pleased that starting this week our church has just made online giving an option for our congregation.

Why did it take us this long?

Oh, we'll continue to pass the offering bag around. Some prefer to bring their tithes to "the storehouse" in person, and that's cool. But for those of us who are apt to forget to bring it physically, we'll now be able to send it electronically. And that's cool, too.


Debs said...

I am so glad you wrote this, because it gives me an opportunity to ask a question.

If giving is an act of worship, as I have been taught, is going online to make a contribution
removing that worshipful act?

Just wondered what others thought, since I know that it is available in most churches where I live, and will eventually make it to my church. It certainly will be convenient. I can do it when I pay my other obligations. But what about "bringing your tithes and offerings to the alter". I don't want to think of my computer as an alter, although I use it in service to God.

Rick Lawrenson said...

Hi Debs,
Good question.
Easy answer is that yes, giving is an act of worship.
Follow up question then is this: Is worship limited to a Sunday service?

Malachi 3:10 speaks of bringing tithes to the "storehouse", not to an "altar", btw. In ancient times, they brought tithes of crops, livestock as well as money, which would have been cash. And the only way to get their tithes to the Temple was to "bring" them.

But, an altar was a place of sacrifice and giving. In the Old Testament altars were set up in many places, not just in a Tabernacle or Temple.

And, no, a computer is not an altar! I don't give to a computer, I give to God. My computer, just as a checkbook or my wallet, is the vehicle by which I give to Him. It is nothing more than a modern way of "bringing" a tithe to the storehouse.

Actually, for the Christian, your life is the "altar", and daily you are to present it to Him as a living sacrifice. Does that mean you have to go to church every day and lay upon a wooden table?

No. Of course not. We give our lives to God wherever we are and by whatever means. And that includes our finances.

Debs said...

Thanks! Your comments will help me when I have to explain it someone else! And might I say Duh! at myself. I knew that I do worship other places. What I enjoy about the giving time at church is the worshipful music playing as the plate is passed. I think I can listen to music as I present my offerings in my quiet time with just me and God! Sounds kinda special now that I think about it.

Rick Lawrenson said...

For us it's another option. Those who prefer to give during the worship gathering can continue to do so.