While we were talking about a certain church my friend asked me, “Is it true that they always have a sermon before the offering is taken?” I said, “Yes. That’s part of their church culture.” Obviously, this is not a practice of his church. It is the same with the tradition I have been associated with for the many years I have been a Christian. There is hardly a comment when the tithe is taken; except for a simple statement like, “Let’s worship the Lord with our tithes and offering.” And a prayer either before or after the offering is taken.
My friend asked me, “Don’t people feel offended by all this “money talk”? Doesn’t this give a bad image of the church—that it is always talking about money and getting people to give their money to the church?” I said, “That was what I used to think.”
Over the last one year I’ve been attending a church that always has a short message before the offering is taken. One of the reasons they do that is to provide opportunities to train up potential speakers. And I must add, these young adults do very well. They speak from an appropriate verse or passage in the Bible. And almost without fail they share something from their own journey and lessons on “giving”. The stress they inevitably make is about the attitude of the heart—how we give; not how much we give.
Am I offended by this constant weekly mini-sermons on giving? Honestly, I am not. I am encouraged by the genuine spirit of happy giving that I see in the lives of those who have shared. And it is not just from the same few leaders; I have heard at least ten persons share on this. Their heart is in the right place; their attitude towards money is in the right place. It has encouraged my own attitude to giving.
In former times, I would simply put my tithe into the offering bag without too much of a thought. I certainly didn’t do it grudgingly or unhappily. But neither did I do it with any real sense of worship or thankfulness. I give my tithe because that is what I’m to do. That’s the Christian thing to do. That is my act of worship. But I have to admit, that the act of worship lacked the spirit of worship!
In Harvest Generation Church I learned something more about the kind of attitude we should have when we give (Yes, it is possible to learn something new after 41 years as a Christian and 29 years as a pastor!). Just before the collection is taken we would be asked to lift up the offering in our hands in worship to the Lord and to verbally thank Him for His provision and the privilege of giving. When I do this my mind and heart become consciously engaged in the act of giving. And this has made a huge difference in my attitude when I give.
Try that! It doesn’t matter whether your church has a mini sermon before the offering is taken or not. As you wait for the offering bag (or plate or bucket) to be passed to you, lift up your tithe to the Lord, verbalise your praise and thankfulness to Him from your heart for the offering you are about to make. It will do wonders to your spirit.
Note that the context in which Paul makes the oft-quoted statement, “Thanks be God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor 9:15) is about giving. I think that pretty much sums it all.