There is one part of our worship service that is often an overlooked part of worship. This is the time when we receive the offering. Scripture teaches us that giving our tithes and offerings to the Lord is an act of worship. As such, we should make this part of our service a continuation of our worship. It’s not an add-on, an extra, or a break in the flow. It is an act of worship. As such, this is a time where people freely give their offering to God and as a church we receive the offering. (Often referred to as “Taking the offering”, but this creates an image for me of people with ski masks and guns taking what they want.) We should have a well thought out plan not only of how we’ll receive the offering, but once it is received have a process in place that creates integrity in handling the gift. Let’s explore three areas together:
1. Preparing to Receive the Offering: Have a plan of what you will do during this time. Think intentionally, what are you talking about before you take the offering? Script this out. This can include an orientation to the materials that you use or even direction to how the offering will be received and opportunities available for giving at other times (i.e. online, mailed in, foyer kiosk, etc…). Also you can cast vision by telling them “Everything we do at the church happens because you give generously.” Continue to cast vision for what the offering will be used for as they give. Tell them things they made happen including testimonies, videos, baptisms, vbs, missions trips, community involvement, benevolence, outreach, etc… You can also tell them, “As part of your own personal accountability, we encourage you to use an offering envelope.” Bottom line is we need to spend time before the offering preparing to receive it in a way that will bring honor to God.
2. Receiving the Offering: Don’t surprise people by taking the offering at random times. During the welcome, you can tell people about when the offering is going to be received. This helps them get prepared for that time. Remember that the offering is worship. As a result, you should make it easy for people to give and be involved in this part of worship. I have heard many well meaning pastors at the time of their offering encourage first time guests not to give. We wouldn’t encourage them not to praise God in singing or to listen to the message and respond, why would we encourage them not to give as an act of worship. For some first time guests, the best thing they could do would be to give. It may be what they need to do to open themselves up to God. People aren’t offended by the fact that we receive an offering, it’s how we receive it, what we say, how we say it and present it (that’s why it is important that we think this through before we get to the offering). As you are speaking during this time, don’t make it dark in the auditorium when you tell people to fill out their envelopes. This works against what you’re trying to accomplish. Give a minute warning before you take the offering so people can prepare to give. We don’t want to rush the process of giving, but we also don’t want to get stuck here either. You should be able to receive your offering in 45 seconds to one minute. You can do this by placing a basket/bag per row in your auditorium prior to services starting. This can be placed under a chair/pew or a bag can be placed at the end of each row. By doing this, everyone can ‘pass the plate’ at the same time and the ushers simply walk through and collect the baskets/bags. Note: If you do not actually receive the offering during services, you lose money and your people miss out on a blessing. If you use the tithe box, people forget to use them once they leave their seat. Because of this, you don’t need to dismiss your service until the offering is completely received.
3. After you have received the Offering: Take it from the floor to a secure room that is not in public traffic area. Have a minimum of 2 counters (a few more could be helpful). You can have all the ushers go to this room and count or just a few of them. Once your in a secure place, I have found a good practice is to have this group pray for the offering, those who gave it and for God to use it for His glory. Have a process in place for counting the offering. Once that is complete, have those who counted sign of on the cashout sheet, envelope or any paperwork that is used in counting. It is good to have a safe to keep your receipts in until it can be taken to the bank. Once the offering is counted, place it in a bag and place the bag in the safe. (A safe that does not require a code to place something into, but requires a code to get the money out of the safe is a good one to use.) At no time in your process should you have only one person handling the money. This is good to protect the church as well as those who are responsible for handling the money. It is good to have a written plan of every step the offering takes from the moment it is collected until it is deposited into the bank. By writing it down, you can identify areas that are needing improvement.
I believe that God honors our efforts as we build integrity into this process. I have seen what has happened at our church as we developed a solid process of handling funds as they are given. We have seen more first time givers and increased giving in general. I can’t help but believe that God is pleased with our desire to be good stewards with what He entrusts with us. If there is no system in place and things just happen from week to week, it is difficult to have integrity in place. (I know this, because of where we were before we developed our system.) But if we’re faithful with the offerings and givers we have, I believe God will honor our faithfulness.
- The value of the Stage (insideministry.wordpress.com)
- Stewardship doesn’t just happen (insideministry.wordpress.com)
- Do you worship money? (thetruthaboutawoman.wordpress.com)
- Giving has more Options (insideministry.wordpress.com)
- Can we do anything to increase giving? (insideministry.wordpress.com)
- Receive an offering at midnight! (insideministry.wordpress.com)
- Money Matters: Do I Have to Give? (challies.com)