Why Take an Offering in the Worship Service?
It is no longer a given in evangelical churches that an offering will be taken during a worship service. As an alternative, many churches now set up permanent “drop -boxes” in the back of the church which allow for donations to be made at any time. Others, aided by advances in technology, have moved to online giving through sites like Paypal or by setting up automatic bank drafts. Given the proliferation of these alternative ways to give, not to mention the ever present cultural cynicism that “churches are always talking about money,” is there any reason to keep a weekly offering as part of a worship service?
Our answer is “yes,” because we believe that the giving of our resources to the kingdom of God is itself an act of worship. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9 that God loves a “cheerful” giver, and that we should not give “reluctantly or under compulsion.” How is such joyful giving possible? Only when it is done as the outflow of what God has given us in Christ. We can give “cheerfully” when our giving is in response to the amazing grace that has come to us in the Gospel. As Paul put it, we will give cheerfully to the extent that we “…know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
When the grace of the Gospel has touched our hearts in this way, our motive for giving completely changes. Sadly, many people today lack this gospel motivation - they have been ordered to give, manipulated to give, threatened to give, pressured to give, guilted to give, or give because they believe that giving will guarantee God’s blessing in their lives. None of these motivations will produce a “cheerful” giver. Only the Gospel will allow us to give because we want to give, as an expression of heartfelt thanks and praise to Him “who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” When we give with this attitude, our giving is an act of worship to God, and what we offer becomes “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (Phil 4:18 ).