A person places a check or folded bills into the offering plate on Sunday morning. The usher sees the hand drop some money into the plate, but what that usher cannot see is the intention of the offering. That is known to no one but the giver and God. Yet the action is one of the most powerful events of the worship service.
The offering is the point on Sunday morning when most people face the intersection between God’s grace and human gratitude. Are we willing to freely give, even if it means giving up money, which in our culture signifies power? Be it a tithe, a couple of one-dollar bills, or nothing at all, giving is an outward sign of our inner spiritual intentions. The offering is a unique time of truth in worship services. The truth of what we bring reveals itself in answer to such questions as these:
• Do I give or not? Can I let go of that which is mine?
• Why do I give? Do I give out of fear, or duty, or to pay my part?
• How much do I give?
The answers to those questions produce an x-ray of one’s spiritual life. To most people the offering is about fundraising. The church’s bills must be paid, so there is always tension about money. But the offering should be a profound spiritual exercise. If what we possess is a gift from God’s abundance, then giving back to God should be an act of gratitude. Consider whether your offering is a time to pay a due or a way to celebrate a relationship.
This stewardship story is an excerpt from the article "Bring an Offering: Observations About Offerings and Worship" found in the Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation magazine volume 5. Create an annual stewardship emphasis using this magazine's theme "Let God Lead as You Gather and Give" using the magazine and accompanying theme materials.