The Message of Giving

March 16, 2009 by

Christian History has an interesting little article exploring the recent history of the offering in church services. The article covers government-supported churches (that’s right, here in the U.S. of A. until 1833) and explains how the weekly passing of the collection plate during worship services didn’t become common practice until 1900.

It’s a little bewildering to me that a staple of the modern church service is such a recent addition. But it’s also freeing, considering how that staple so often trips people up and prompts finger-wagging over churches only wanting your money.

Money and the church have always caused problems–think lightning strikes, indulgences and selling pews, but maybe there’s a way we could rethink this practice, still fund the church and do our giving. Without turning people off.

How do you go about doing your offering? And what message is it sending? Could you communicate more effectively by making giving less visible (online giving, pledge drives, etc.)? Or should giving be an active and visible part of our worship, and if so, how do we deal with the naysayers?

Churches have varied on this from the book of Acts and up through the centuries. There’s no right answer. But maybe it’s time to reconsider how your church conducts its fund raising and whether or not your conventions are communicating your convictions.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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10 Responses to “The Message of Giving”

  • e. barrett
    March 16, 2009

    The church I go to does a collection but it usually does so while they are running a video. They never try to “hide” what they are doing, but they also make it very clear that giving is meant only for the people who come to the church regularly, not for people who are there for the first time, or even for people who aren’t sure if they believe in Jesus.
    Running it during the video makes it so people’s attention is focused on something useful, instead of trying to see whether the person next to you is giving or not.
    They also offer online giving.
    The offering (and giving) has become part of the church’s makeup, and while some people will always take offense and be suspicious, most people find that giving has helped them grow spiritually, not just make them lighter in the wallet!

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  • Keith Ebersole
    March 16, 2009

    I personally believe that the tithe is the right thing to do in response to a spoken blessing. We see in the Bible that those who are blessed by their Priest (READ: Pastor) then tithed and subsequently received their blessing. Tithing is an important part of receiving blessings from God, but then again so is the verbal blessing from the Pastor.
    I am not saying that you shouldn’t support your church, but if you are expecting to be blessed by God, that is the formula. Pastor blesses, you tithe (10% of all your increase) and then you are blessed. If you have not been blessed then you tithe, you are likely to not receive the blessing in store for you. If you are blessed but do not tithe, likewise you will not receive the blessing.
    Jesus said, “Render unto Cesar was is Cesar’s and to God what is his.” Pay your taxes to the government and give God back what is his, which is 10%.

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  • Casey Zachary
    March 17, 2009

    Sometimes you swim to have fun.
    Sometimes you swim to stay alive.
    Most churches are receiving tithes and offerings to stay afloat. Our church simply has a box in the back you slip it into, but has recently began passing a collection place one sunday a month. I think it has less to do with how churches collect, and more to do with how current churchgoers have too often over extended themselves and don’t have the resources to give as they ought.

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  • stacy
    March 17, 2009

    I didn’t realize there was a mathematical formula involved in getting a blessing.
    I’m STILL looking for a church. When I visit one that seems promising, I’ll drop five or 10 bucks into the plate and don’t think a thing of it. It’s not tithing, per se, because it’s usually a one-time or two-time thing.
    What does bother me is the idea that God holds out on blessings until someone receives a tithing. Or the whole “seed money” concept. (My neighborhood gets blanketed with little booklets about how people gave money to this “church” and were “blessed” with a car.)
    I’ll give freely to a church because it’s what you should do. The church is a community and, when we all give what we can, the community thrives. It’s when people place conditions on it or allude to God giving you better treatment if you give more that feels icky.

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  • bwilhite
    March 17, 2009

    our church has a offering chest placed in the back of the worship room. we encourage our members to give any time during the service. they usually give before or after the service.

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  • Jesse Gavin
    March 17, 2009

    At every service we mention that we will take an offering during the first song after the sermon. We explain every time that the money is used to support the work of our ministry and to help the poor. We also mention that guests shouldn’t feel obligated to give and that the offering is for people who consider this our ‘home’ church.

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  • Mark
    March 17, 2009

    I am from the Lutheran Tradition. Normal we pass the plate before we have holy communion. We offer a prayer of thanks for the things that god gives us after the plates have been passed. I think it is important to realize that all we have comes from God, I think this practice reminds of that.
    I have almost been in Slovakia for the past month. They normal have boxes the people but money in when they exit the church. If someone gives larger amounts they announce it. I didn’t find the annoucements of what people gave beneifical but stems from when it was illegal to give under communism and so the announcements they make there way of saying that they can freely give.
    Just somethings to think about.

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  • Bryan
    March 18, 2009

    I and a few others have tried to persuade our leadership to adopt the online-giving option and change up how offering is done, but like so many things handled by a church staff, even a “progressive” one, they are so darn slow. I know church occurs at 1/7 the frequency of everything else, but why does it seem like the staff’s pace is equally slow?

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  • dean
    March 21, 2009

    we have “joy boxes” at the doors to the auditorium. we mention “if you’re giving an offering today, you can drop it in a joy box or give on our website” near the end of our services.
    our printed “announcements” page has this statement at the bottom –
    Support the mission of MapleGrove
    … they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.
    And they did it of their own free will …
    Paul, about the church in Corinth, 2 Corinthians 8:3
    Your support makes an impact. If you are giving an offering today, please use one of the boxes at the doors of the auditorium, or, you can save resources by giving on our secure website – click on eGiving.
    we don’t talk about “tithe” much – without explaining the new testament “free will” we have.

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  • Donna
    March 22, 2009

    I would forget to bring my checkbook and decided to just give up. I now go to my online bank and have them write a check to my church every time my husband or I get paid. We rarely put any money in the offering plate and just have our offering mailed to the church. It actually makes it a little more stress free at offering time because we know we already ‘took care’ of this.

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