For many churches the time when it comes to receive the offering is a perfunctory time usually introduced with the words “It is now time to give our tithes and offering, would the ushers please come forward.”
If you are in a traditional setting usually four guys as old as Methuselah with hair growing out of places no one thought hair could grow out of come and dutifully and orderly pass the offering plates while the organist plays some dirge until it is time for the secret ritual of standing up to sing the doxology. This is followed by a prayer of dedication.
In the contemporary setting, if an offering is even received (we would never want to offend an unchurched person and would never want them to think following Jesus actually requires sacrifice including financial sacrifice), then a quick announcement is made and persons haphazardly pass around baskets while the band plays and the offering is quickly whisked away to an undisclosed location.
The offering in the local church represents a wonderful opportunity to cast vision, teach about stewardship and share information. Instead of rushing through it in order to get to the last hymn and beat the Baptists to lunch perhaps we can recapture the offering as an act of worship that connects giving to ministry. Below are fifteen ways a local church might consider doing such a thing.
Use the time prior to when the offering is taken or while the offering is being taken to teach about stewardship.
1. Teach about how God owns it all. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1. Project the psalm on the screen.
2. Teach about how God doesn’t need our money (See Psalm 24:1 he already owns it all) but God does care about how our attitude toward money and possessions affects our relationship with him.
3. Teach that we give because God has first given to us. God has given us Christ, salvation, life, family, friends, and every good and perfect gift under heaven. Our giving is the appropriate response of a grateful people.
4. Talk about debt and how our consumer debt often prevents us from all that God intends when it comes to our giving because we are too busy paying the bank interest and robbing God of the first fruits. The borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
5. Teach that giving is a form of worship. As an aside, the offering should always come after the reading of the scripture and preaching as our giving in the context of worship is our response to the grace of God that has been proclaimed.
Use the offering as a time to cast vision. Persons give to vision not budgets.
6. Show a slideshow or video with people saying why they love their church.
7. Record and edit a video of someone telling why they give and show it in worship during the offering.
8. Record and edit a video of someone who volunteers indicating why it is they volunteer.
9. Read an email or note someone sent to the church thanking the church.
10. Record and edit a video of someone giving a testimony of how their Sunday School class or small group has helped them to grow in their faith.
Use the offering to share important information with the church.
11. Highlight ministries in your church that help to fulfill your mission and make clear that the church’s giving enables such ministries.
12. Display graphs showing where monies go and where there are surpluses and deficits and future anticipated needs.
13. Remind people of the various ways to give at your church- in worship, online, at a kiosk, through a will or stocks.
14. Show a video of a local community partner ministry that is supported by giving dollars from your church.
15. Share statistics about new members, professions of faith, baptisms, confirmations, etc. and connect that giving allows an environment of life change to occur at your church.
So many times churches only focus on stewardship for a week or month in the fall. We know however that Jesus talked more about how we handle our money and possessions than he did about heaven or hell combined. Stewardship deserves our attention year round and redeeming the offering as a time to teach, cast vision, and share information can go a long way to such redemption.
Are there others ways to utilize the offering to connect giving to ministry?