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.