Have you ever wondered why we do what we do during worship? What’s up with the passing the peace? Why do we have a community confession? What exactly are we saying when we profess the creed? Maybe you’ve wondered if there’s more to the offering besides collecting gifts for the church. If you’ve been asking, if you’ve been curious, if you’ve been wondering, this is the blog series for you!
Now here’s my super short caveat:
1. These posts are based on the book of Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW), on my understanding of our tradition as Lutherans, and the ways scripture has influenced our practices.
2. And worship is super contextual. That means that every context may have different practices for their worship time, different understandings of the whys behind what happens, and that’s okay!
3. Also, even if you worship in the same context I do, your understanding or feeling might be different. And that’s okay too!
So here is part 4 of Ask the Pastor – Worship Stuff: Offering
What is “Offering”?
So simply speaking, this is the time in worship where a plate or basket is passed or available. Those who are gathered are invited to place financial gifts, prayers, connection cards, etc. into the plate/basket. Offering isn’t always given during this time in worship. And not everyone’s offering is financial.
What to Expect
Every congregation has their own traditions. In our congregation, before the offering song begins, we give a brief introduction to this time.
At our church we sing during the plate passing, and then we stand and we sing the “Doxology” together.
And we finish together in prayer, giving thanks for God’s gifts and asking for guidance in our discipleship together.
So why do this at all? I don’t mean why give to your church, because that’s a totally different blog post (and I’ve written about it here and here.)
I mean why have this time during worship dedicated for giving?
For some people it’s an awkward time of scrambling for wallets or purses, of searching for envelopes, even sometimes asking neighbors for pens so checks can be signed.
I have one friend who gives electronically at her church, but still feels it’s necessary to whisper to whoever may be sitting next to her: “We give online.” Just in case they were wondering why she passed the plate without putting anything into it.
We struggle to talk about money in our churches, and so having this time where most of our members and friends give financially as part of worship can be awkward for some. My hope is that by talking about it a bit more, we can help to dissipate some of that awkwardness.
- The biggest reason why we do this in church? So that we can give thanks together and respond to those gifts together. The gifts we share at church go to the ministries of the congregation, and in our church portions go to our synod and from our synod to our churchwide ministries. And the biggest reason we give is because God has already given to us, and calls us to share together in community.
- Second reason? This is a time of blessing. In our singing, in our prayers, we bless the gifts given. For those who give electronically, who give monthly/quarterly/annually, or for whom financial giving is a struggle, they are invited to place a card in the plate requesting their gifts (whatever they may be) to be blessed as part of this time.
- Offering is a part of our worship traditions. Dating back to giving alms in the Jewish worship spaces, there is a historical component that we keep, which in some ways goes back to reason number one. It’s just not those gathered in the sanctuary that we share thanksgiving with, but all those people of faith who have come before us and come after us.
- I’m sure there are more reasons, and maybe you have your own!
Do you still have questions around the offering in worship? What does this time in our service mean for you? How do you give thanks to God in your life, during church on Sunday and every day of the week?