Giving is beginning to become a dirty word in churches, which is a truly unfortunate thing. I’ve been a little disappointed to find that in many modern churches, the offering is no longer given a place within the worship service. As an alternative, churches now expect their members to pay their tithes online or to drop money into the plate as they make their way through the exits on their way to lunch (which has everyone glancing around for the nearest fire exit).
Different churches do things differently, to be sure, but this tends to give the impression that the offering plate is an afterthought, while I believe it is so much more.
Giving a church tithe isn’t like routinely paying a bill, or throwing out a chunk of meat to appease a pagan god – instead, it is a beautiful and important component of our worship. So why exactly have we traditionally given offerings as part of the worship service?
The idea is that the Lord has blessed us so powerfully, that our lives our simply overflowing with His joy and provision. Out of this abundance of heavenly blessing, we gather together to praise His name, to proclaim His truth, and to offer ourselves and all that we have to His service. You see, passing the collection plate isn’t a distraction from our worship – it is an act of worship.
It also provides a glimpse of Heaven. Revelation 4 tells us that those gathered in God’s heavenly throne room will cast their golden crowns at the feet of the Father, taking the blessings He has bestowed them with and offering them right back to Him, along with proclaiming, “You are worthy, O Lord!” If freely offering part of our abundance is good enough for Heaven’s throne room, I don’t see why it isn’t good enough for our worship services here on Earth.
Unfortunately, it seems that in order to keep people comfortable, some churches are robbing their people of a rich, full worship experience. Maybe we need to recall the words to Matt Redman’s 1999 release, The Heart of Worship:
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it,
But it’s all about You – It’s all about You, Jesus!