being a church-goer from my childhood, i learned the practice of putting money in the offering plate every sunday.
my parents would dress me up in my “church clothes” and send me off to sunday school with a quarter in my pocket. i remember the anticipation and how much i liked getting to drop in my coins. i didn’t really know why i did it…i just knew it was something i got to do every week.
it wasn’t until later that my theology began to define my practice.
after all these years, i’ve come to understand that people put money in a church offering plate for a lot of different reasons.
…because of a strong feeling of responsibility to support the “family budget”. there are some people who are deeply aware of how much it costs to keep a church family functioning…and have a deep conviction about their role in making it happen.
…as an act of worship and gratitude to god. some give simply and lavishly as an expression of thanks to god for everything he has done.
…out of obedience to scripture. many people will claim, “god requires us to give money back to him”. others will cite examples of first century disciples giving away their money and belongings. the bible talks a ton about money, but most don’t really have a clue what it says…or where it says it. be careful.
…because charitable giving is a good tax write-off. it’s like the government “rewards” a little generosity on the part of its citizenry.
…it’s a way to deal with guilt. had a rough saturday night of sinning? put some money in the offering plate and maybe it will deflect some of god’s wrath. right?
…succumbing to adult peer pressure. hey…everybody else seems to be throwing god a few bones. if i don’t want to look like a selfish slug, i better drop a buck or two in the plate. i know they’re all looking at me, because i’m looking at them!
…being moved in the moment. there was no real “plan” to put money in the basket, but the music and/or the message was so inspiring, sometimes throwing in a few extra dollars just seems like the right thing to do.
…somebody you really respect and admire taught you the value of giving. and it became a habit or a discipline of your life
…you really, really believe in what the money is being used for. and you want to see more and more of your own money used in that way. (for the record, lots of american christians are motivated to give their more of their money, if they see it being used for something that doesn’t depreciate in value…like land and buildings.)
…as a way to secure a greater degree of god’s “blessing” in your life. many have been taught to “test” god by giving money to the church…in order to see god give back money in abundance. this one is based on a particular interpretation of several key passages in the bible.
…to bring balance and perspective to our financial lives. sharing our money helps us stay humble and keeps us from depending solely on our own resources. it teaches us the value of living on less.
i suspect there may be many more reasons. probably lots of “variations” of this list. these are just a handful of ones that i have heard…and some i have even wrestled with in my own life.
so what’s your story? do you have a well-thought out plan for giving your offering? do you know why you do it…or why you don’t? do you even think about it?
what if you learned some really compelling reasons to share your wealth with your church family? what if you could be convinced that generosity and sacrificial giving is the most life-changing and character building act you could ever develop in your life?
would you be interested? would you be open to change? would you be willing to trust god in ways you never have?
then stayed tuned…