FIT IN

Spring’s top fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­five five achingly trendy gym classes verge on elit­ist—but may de­liver the work­out you’ve been look­ing for By Kayleen Schae­fer

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Focus On/Security -

Dy­lan Cia­macco, 25, first went to the Los An­ge­les out­post of in­ter­na­tional megachurch C3 as a teen. His mom thought a lot of the young peo­ple there—in skinny jeans, chunky sweaters, and leather jack­ets—dressed like him. He’d emerged re­cently from a “sick” (as in awe­some) athe­ist phase, he says, mock­ing him­self, and was look­ing to go back to church.

A typ­i­cal ser­vice, Cia­macco says, opens with a band that would fit in at the Coachella fes­ti­val, were it not for the Je­sus lyrics: “What a sav­ior, my Re­deemer/ Friend of sin­ners, one like me.” (In one pod­cast, a pas­tor, ser­mo­niz­ing about so­ci­ety’s ob­ses­sion with mark­ers of achieve­ment, uses an In­ter­net-ap­proved term of en­dear­ment to chan­nel his au­di­ence, ask­ing, “When am I go­ing to get my own bae?”) At the end, a mem­ber of the “wor­ship team” will call on parish­ioners to tithe and pass the col­lec­tion plate. But not all peo­ple reach into their wal­let. Many take out their phone in­stead.

Cia­macco gives each week, us­ing the Tithe.ly app. It takes fewer than five taps, and built-in ge­olo­ca­tion means he can con­trib­ute at any of the 1,000 churches that sub­scribe—a fea­ture that’s es­pe­cially use­ful around hol­i­days like Easter, when many peo­ple travel. Tithe.ly lets wor­shipers set up au­to­matic re­cur­ring pay­ments, but be­cause Cia­macco’s pay­check fluc­tu­ates with his work as a free­lance video pro­ducer, he tithes on de­mand—usu­ally about 10 per­cent of what­ever he’s brought in.

Al­though churches are say­ing a col­lec­tive hal­lelu­jah that a new gen­er­a­tion of devo­tees is fill­ing pews, a youth­ful con­gre­ga­tion has its lim­i­ta­tions. Twen­tysome­things might find re­li­gion, but not a lot of them have found that six-fig­ure job. They don’t carry cash—and what, ex­actly, is a per­sonal check? Still, about a quar­ter of them use mo­bile pay­ment apps such as Paypal and Venmo reg­u­larly, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Ac­cen­ture sur­vey. And enor­mously pop­u­lar ser­vices such as Seam­less, Uber, and Ama­zon.com have nor­mal­ized one-tap pay­ments—91 per­cent of mil­len­ni­als use their phone to buy some­thing at least once a month, mar­ket-re­search firm Statista says.

Tithe.ly is one of a hand­ful of apps lever­ag­ing that spend­ing be­hav­ior for the good of the church. Push­pay, which about 3,000 con­gre­ga­tions em­ploy, works sim­i­larly; wor­shipers de­cide whether to do­nate to a gen­eral bud­get or a spe­cific pro­gram the in­sti­tu­tion des­ig­nates. An­other, Easytithe, fea­tures a text-to-give op­tion. It also pro­vides tech­nol­ogy for a Square-like credit card reader to await the faith­ful in church lob­bies. Re­gard­less of which app a con­gre­ga­tion chooses, the point is con­ve­nience. “We call it fric­tion­less giv­ing,” says Dean Sweetman, Tithe.ly’s co-founder and a for­mer min­is­ter at C3 At­lanta. He de­signed the app with C3’s wal­let-light clien­tele in mind: “We see peo­ple giv­ing all times of day and night. Noth­ing stands in the way.”

Ap­par­ently not. Churches us­ing tithing apps re­port they see more do­na­tions, more of­ten, from more peo­ple. (Sub­scrib­ing es­tab­lish­ments ei­ther pay a monthly fee or al­low the app to col­lect a cut of each gift. Tithe.ly lets do­na­tors cover this; Push­pay prom­ises churches a 5 per­cent spike in do­na­tions or their money back.) But get­ting parishes with pas­tors and mem­bers older than 40 to sign on has been more Job-like. Tra­di­tion is hard to over­come. “In some churches, if you let the plate go by and you don’t put some­thing in, you feel a lit­tle guilty,” says Brad Hill, who works in plat­form ser­vices at Easytithe. To com­bat that, some con­gre­ga­tions print out cards that say, “I gave on­line.”

Cia­macco’s friend James Crocker, also 25, says it’s much more awk­ward to do­nate the old way: “Putting your per­sonal credit card de­tails on a piece of pa­per and leav­ing it there? For mil­len­ni­als, there’s no way.” Cia­macco agrees, if for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. “I was so anti writ­ing my name on an en­ve­lope—it was a holierthan-thou thing,” he says. “When Tithe.ly came out, I was like, ‘Hell, yeah.’ ” <BW>

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