Should we pass on the plate?

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Offering plate, financial giftIn his book A Better Offering, Rev. Donald Smith invites us to consider our long-held practice of passing an offering plate during worship. He writes:

“In today’s modern world, I believe that passing an offering receptacle during worship is a practice that no longer represents the depth and breadth of the offering. It no longer symbolizes the full means through which God’s people are being inspired to generously bring their gifts.” 

In March of 2020, the offering as we knew it stopped. Churches were unable to gather in person, so they had to quickly pivot and adapt to being able to accept financial gifts online. As virtual worship continued, some congregations made time for an offering while others did not.

Today, as more communities of faith regather physically for worship, we find ourselves in an ideal time to look at the offering with fresh eyes. What actually happens during the offertory? Is it a transactional experience only or is it also transformational?

Rev. Smith asks, “If we don’t pass plates, then what shall we do and for what purpose will we do it?” He also encourages churches to think in terms of the offering being a way to offer our whole selves for the work of God, not just monetary gifts.

Are you ready to rethink the offering in your ministry setting? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Utilize the “Seven Whys” method to evaluate the offering. Simply put, you ask “Why?” until you can’t get a deeper answer. Begin with “Why do we pass offering plates during worship?” and see where the conversation takes you.
  2. Consider how you can make the offertory a transformational experience. What is the transformative work of the church and can that story be told during the offering? Make the connection between people’s financial stewardship and how lives are changed through the congregation’s collective stewardship.
  3. Finally, think about how the Sunday morning offertory fits into how people offer their gifts all week long. Strategize how to invite, show gratitude for, and share these gifts, and determine what the offering can do to support your church’s steward formation efforts. Is the offering growing faithful and generous stewards? If the answer is no, if you aren’t sure, or if you think it is only impacting a portion of your congregation, it’s definitely time to look at the offering with fresh eyes.

Want to talk more about a different offering? Give Laura a call or send her an email (336-725-2589, lwatson@nullmmfa.info).

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Laura Watson

About the Author:

Laura joined the Foundation in April of 2012. A native of Winston-Salem and member of Home Moravian Church, she has worked in the Florida school system, at Salem College, and as Assistant Director of Laurel Ridge, the Southern Province’s camp and conference center. When she’s not busy with stewardship for the Foundation, Laura enjoys running and fundraising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), as well as traveling with her husband, Mark. She has served on the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees, the Salem Academy Alumnae Board, and the Triad JDRF Board of Directors.
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