Are offerings in church an unpleasant mixing of the spiritual and the secular? Perhaps sometimes they have been — but they don’t need to be. An offering should be an act of worship to God, motivated by a heart that pleases God.
Paul says very little about worship practices of the early church. He rarely uses the usual Greek words for worship in connection with the newly developing Christian communities. But he does take a Greek word for worship used throughout the Greek Old Testament, and he uses it for offerings. He was referring to a collection for famine relief (Romans 15:27; 2 Corinthians 9:12). This seemingly ordinary service to help other believers was an act of worship.
The same is true for offerings gathered for the support of the gospel and the church. These are also a type of worship, and are treated as such by thousands of churches around the world. Most churches include an offering as part of the weekly worship service.
God does not need any of our service — it is we who need to give it. He does not need our money, but we need to be generous. Offerings are one way to express our devotion to God in an act of worship.
Some ministers have been a bit embarrassed about offerings, and have pushed them into some corner of the room as if they really didn’t belong. We believe this is a mistake, perhaps reflecting a lack of understanding of the worship nature of the offerings. We should emphasize that the offering is an act of worship. It is not the only way that we worship God, but it is important. In every aspect of our lives, we should be submissive to our Lord and Savior. Offerings are part of the picture.
Offerings may be incorporated into the worship service in several ways. A very brief message about the offering may be helpful. It would also be appropriate to have a prayer about the offering, acknowledging that it was given to worship him, and asking him to guide its use. The prayer sets the offering in its correct context, as part of our relationship with our loving Creator and Savior.
Offerings Express Love for God
The church’s financial need is less important than the need for each of us, as children of God, to honor him with our substance. God has given us everything. He is our life, our hope, our future. Giving to him is one of the ways his people worship him and express their thanksgiving for his boundless love and grace.
The church has needs, and the need is great. The church depends on these offerings as an important part of the budget. But our giving is not a response to an obligation of the law—it is an expression of our love for God, our thankfulness for his grace and love through Jesus Christ.
God has transformed us by his grace. Because he is our God, and because he has planted his love in our hearts, our souls long for him. We desire to gather in grateful adoration and worship of the One who has saved us and given us a future and undying hope. We gather to worship him as his children. We gather to praise the name of Jesus.
We give offerings not out of obligation to the law, but from worshipful hearts of adoration for our Lord and Savior, and because we are committed to the work of his gospel that we are called and commanded to do.
Friends, God has given us the greatest gift he could have given — his Son. He has blessed us beyond what anyone imagined. Offerings are an opportunity to put our hearts into the work he is doing among us. Let us pray that the offerings will not be disappointing, and that God will inspire all of us to put our treasure where our hearts are.
J. Michael Feazell