One of the parts of worship that I don’t think gets enough attention (or street cred) is the offering. Most times, churches say things like “now we praise God with our morning offering,” or “I’d like to invite the ushers up to take the morning offering,” (not during COVID, I know) or something similarly short and without meaning.
If you’re lucky, you get two sentences instead of one, something like, “As God gives to us, we give back to God with our tithes and offerings,” but in most cases that’s as deep as the lead-in to offering time gets.
Recently, my lead pastor started handing over the offering time to me to facilitate. Makes sense, seeing as ministry fundraising is my wheelhouse and I really enjoy thinking of creative ways to encourage people to give.
For me, talking to people about giving is as Biblical as talking to people about Jesus. After all, Jesus talks most about love and money, so I think that’s what we should be doing in church, too.
I’ve turned the offering time into a mini-message, taking one or two minutes to talk about why we give, what we hope for, and how generous people can be part of building God’s kingdom. Taking two minutes to talk about giving is too much to dedicate when the future of our ministries and visions is at stake.
So I encourage you to consider lengthening the section of your service dedicated to talking about the offering. Consider asking people to talk about their favorite ministries, how they serve, or why they give. Share stories about what giving means, and connect it to Scripture whenever you can. Encourage other people to share their stories, too – the stories of hope will buoy giving far more than one or two sentences ever will.
Be careful, though; these two minutes should not be what I call “desperation asks” to have people help “save the church.” Those two minutes can help remind people of God’s abundance, and help them step away from a scarcity mindset, but should never make people feel scared or nervous. Desperation asks might lift giving for a week or two, but a sustained mindset about giving from abundance will reap benefits for months and years into the future of your ministry.
Consider adapting one of these samples that I created (and have used in the past few weeks) for your own use – I give them freely so that your visions and ministries may flourish:
Offering Thoughts 1: Hope
This first one is seasonal, but can be shifted to any season – consider it a “valley” giving conversation – how sometimes we feel nervous, but we’re an Easter people who believe in hope!
Fall is normally a time when we celebrate families coming back to church, we celebrate the opening of our in-person Sunday School, or we celebrate the changing of the seasons. This year, some of those celebrations have to be postponed until it’s safer for all of us to meet in person once again. That also means that some of those attendance and giving boosts that we’re used to this time of year have been affected as well.
But we’re a hopeful people, are we not? We’re an Easter people! This is a group of grateful, gracious, generous givers who continue to support the ministries of this church and the outreach that we continue to give each week. Whether it’s serving 150+ each week or sewing dozens of masks for our neighbors, this church never ceases to amaze me in its depth of generosity.
Whether you give because you’re scared, give because you’re hopeful, or give because your Mom taught you it’s the right thing to do, I want you to know that this community of faith is thankful for the gifts you give. Whether you give by check, mailed to the church, or have found your way to our website or navigated the fancy app, you are giving body to God’s hands and feet in the world.
We’re going to be travelling into stewardship season not too far from now, and so let’s keep dreaming of what God is doing in this community and in the world, shall we? Shall we give from a place of hope for what the future brings? That’s what I plan to do, and I hope you’ll join me in that.
Offering Thoughts 2: Giving
This offering was created in the context of our church’s livestream format, where people openly message on our Youtube platform. But whether or not you’re in person, I think this works because it helps people think of their own stories.
As we come to a time of offering, I wanted to offer you a few thoughts about what it means to give of yourself. There are many different ways we give, after all. Post on the Livestream the ways that you give – help us think of as many reasons as we can! Do you serve at a soup kitchen or serve meals at the church? Do you send cards to people who are homebound, or send packages to college students? Do you serve on an administrative board, or perhaps as part of a group?
Note: this next paragraph is very particular to my church – I advise you to put in a recent event or emphasize your church’s ministries here.
I remember the first event we did after COVID hit, a bottle and can drive for CHOW. It was such a hot day, kind of like the Clothing Center giveaway was too, and everyone was nervous about how it would go. But that day we raised over $600 for CHOW, providing so many meals to people in need during this trying time.
Do you know why we are able to give in so many ways? Why we are able to give away clothes, give away food, give of our time and talents?
Because we are a BOTH/AND people. We give BOTH of our time AND of our money. We give because we believe in the blessings that this building and church family have to offer to the world. We give BOTH time and money because one would not be as effective without the other.
As stewardship time approaches, and you consider your yearly gifts to the church, remember that we are a BOTH/AND people, who are generous beyond measure. There’s no need to be nervous, because we serve a God of abundance. A God that calls us to give both our time and our treasures. BOTH/AND.
Whether you give in the basket at the back of the sanctuary, give online through the website or through our app, or mail a check on a regular basis, thank you for believing in a God of BOTH/AND. A God that multiplies all that we give, so that the community may be made stronger by our presence.
Now it’s your turn. These were two examples, but I want you to try it out – skip the one-liner and tell a story about giving. Let the congregation know that you see what they do that’s already generous, and be generous yourself with compliments and uplifting thoughts.
Give the offering time it’s due. After all, we’re not robots programmed to give each week – we’re thinking, feeling human beings who want to believe in a shared vision. Use what I have here, or create your own (and feel free to share it in the comments so others can benefit too!), but be creative and BE HOPEFUL as you encourage others to give.