I had a conversation yesterday evening with Ben about different ways of giving an offering invitation as a part of a worship service. I want to think first about what means to give financially to the church. I have ranked these in order of priority / importance.
Giving financially to a local community of faith is:
- An act of worship
- An act of discipleship
- Participating in God’s mission in and to the world
- A part of the life of the community (inclusive of the first three on this list)
- Supporting of the staff and structure of the local church.
- Supporting of the staff and structure of the denomination.
An invitation to offering should include:
- A focus on giving as an act of worship, discipleship and mission.
- No distinction for visitors and non-visitors. The most important reasons for giving are an opportunity for members and non-members, first time visitors or long time attenders.
- Logistic instructions on how one might be able to give.
How you understand the purpose of the offering will shape how it happens. I have experienced worship in which financial gifts are received in plates that are passed among the congregation, one brings financial gifts forward to give after receiving communion, and there is the opportunity to give in a box in the back of the worship space. There are pros and cons to each of these methods.
At Resurrection, we pass plates to receive the offering during the worship service. At some services, there is a distinction made between visitors and attenders. I think that when I have the opportunity to lead this part of the service in the future I will not make that distinction.
What do you think? What have I left of the lists above? What should be removed or reordered?