They got paid on Monday. And now that it’s Sunday, there’s not much left to put in the offering plate at church. More of your flock thinks this way (and lives this way) than we want to think. According to Dave Ramsey, 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. So who’s getting the first fruits?
If the banks that own their houses and cars are on automatic bank draft — carefully timed for the day after their pay check is directly deposited in their accounts – is their pledge to your congregation also? Are they offering God their leftovers instead of their first fruits?
The concept of first fruit giving is mentioned 13 times in the first five books of the Bible alone. “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.” (Proverbs 3:9). Some translate the Hebrew word for first fruits, “bikkurim,” as “promise to come.”
“When you come into the land which I give you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.” —Leviticus 23:10
But the concept of first fruit is not just an Old Testament one. The New Testament continues this “promise to come” or “bikkurim,” describing the resurrection of Christ as God’s best and perfect gift of redemption to the world. Christ is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep – and the fulfillment of the promise to come (1 Corinthians 15: 20-28). James 1:18 tells us that we are a kind of first fruits. Romans 8:23 says we have the first fruits of the Spirit. And even in the end, Revelation 14: 4-5, describes the saints as first fruits in a passage that reminds me of our Moravian seal:
“These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.”
So, about giving first fruits to the church in this present life: It’s easier than they think. Many Moravian congregations now have online monthly giving enabled by credit card on the Moravian Giving Portal. As the members of your congregation make their pledge this year, it is easy for them to schedule monthly payments for the day after payday. Whether they are able to attend all services or not, they’ll be honoring the Lord with their first fruits. Whether payday is on a Monday or Saturday, they’ll be honoring the Lord with their first fruits. If it’s snowing, they’re sick, or they’re traveling, their first fruit gift can remain faithful.
Incorporate a link to your congregation’s specific donor form on the Moravian Giving Portal in your Stewardship communication, website and social media this year. Encourage your flock to schedule monthly gifts that correspond to their pledge. Encourage them to give from their first fruits. Establish a First Fruits Society to recognize those who do this. If your Moravian congregation does not have online giving enabled on the Moravian Giving Portal, call Chris Spaugh at 1-888-722-7923.