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Reclaiming the offering as worship

By Jeremy Steele

Asking for money can be touchy, and doing so in church is no exception. Some seem to think the offering distracts from the worshipful atmosphere of the rest of the service. However, it's time to reclaim the offering — the giving of gifts from God as gifts to God — as a vital part of worship. Giving in response to God's word or the needs of the world helps us grow spiritually.

Here are some ideas to help you reclaim the power of the offering as an act of worship.

1. Always set it up

Use the offering time to teach about stewardship and the concept of money as a gift from God. You don't have to deliver a mini-sermon each time. Adding a couple of sentences that focus on act of giving — and on our need to give — can make a world of difference.

2. Add a blessing

When the offering is received, have a pastor or other worship leader offer a prayer of thanksgiving, such as "God, we know you are the source of all life's blessings and for that we give you thanks. We join our praises with all the earth in praise of your unending grace and generosity towards us…".Then have the congregation join the thanksgiving as it sings a doxology.

3. Move the offering

Moving the offering time may cause more strife than changing the color of the carpet, but it can help prompt people to reconsider the purpose. You may want to explain why you have moved it to a different part of the service.

4. Vary your theme

  • Almost any theme you find in Scripture can be tweaked to bring a clear theological focus and teaching moment to the offering time. Here are some ideas for themes
  • Freedom: We give because we are free from the claims money has on us and to demonstrate that our hope is not in material things but in God.
  • Gratitude: We give out of a grateful heart because of all God has done for us.
  • Joy: God calls us to experience joy in giving. When we give, we do so joyfully.
  • Compassion: We give out of compassion for those in need.
  • Ownership: We give because all we have belongs to God.

5. Let the children lead you

Seeing children and youth give generously and faithfully helps adults realize that what they model affects the next generation.

A couple of Sundays before your lesson on giving with the children, send them home with a special offering box or envelope. Provide instructions telling the parents to have the children bring the offering back on a specific Sunday. That day, begin the offering time by having the children bring their gifts to the front.

Plan activities with the children's coordinator or volunteer leaders of children.

6. Celebrate every ministry every Sunday

There is the oft-chosen option of talking about a specific ministry that happens as a result of giving each week. What if occasionally — maybe once or twice a year — you listed them all or at least a good portion? If your church uses projection, develop a list of every Sunday school class, small group, circle, camp, mission and other activity done by your church and have them dissolve between each other while the plates are being passed. Don't forget the staff and facilities — they are vital parts of your church's ministry. You can lead into this special offering time by saying, "Though we often give thanks for one or two ministries that touch our lives, today we give thanks during our offering time for all the ministries that we participate in through this act of faithful giving."

Take a moment to talk these ideas over with some of your leaders to see what other innovative ways you can engage the Spirit through your offering.