First off, a disclaimer: this post is not about how much you give, rather it is about the way that you give. For in a society that demands that everything be made faster and more convenient, many churches seemingly lag behind in that every year around December 1st, they pass out boxes of envelopes to their members for the next years offerings.
Some churches have started to go away from this. Thrivent Financial For Lutherans and many banks will now allow you to handle your offering much the same way that you would handle your electric bill: automatically removing a set amount of money from your account and putting it into the church’s account.
Churches love this idea because it allows them to get the offering, regardless of whether or not a person is in church or not. Members, particularly younger ones, also love it because the hassle of writing a check and putting it into an envelope and remembering to bring it to church is no longer an issue. The offering is taken care of and no further thought is needed on the matter.
But while convenient for all, is this really the best practice for churches to be engaged in?
Is the offering another bill that needs to be paid? Is the offering something that requires no thought on Saturday night or Sunday morning? Or is the offering different, something requiring consideration and actual personal involvement?
The offering is that personal thing that you give that supports the work of both the local congregation and the work of the Church nationally and internationally. You do not pay your phone bill with the hopes that eternal salvation will be obtained by the people at the phone company, but you do give your offering with the hope that someone will hear about Jesus, either in your neighborhood or in a far off place.
Your placing the offering into the offering plate is your public confession that you believe the work of the Church is important enough to support with your time, talent and treasure.
Thereby, the offering is not something that can be dealt with by automatic deposit, rather it is something that needs to be meditated on, discussed as a family. Some weeks, the Home offering is what requires giving, other weeks it is the Mission offering, and still other weeks it will be a special offering.
Churches are not innocent in this matter either. Yes, it is nice to know that the offering will be there with or without the person in attendance, but which would you rather have: the offering present but the member absent; or the member present but the offering still at home? This is not to give anyone an excuse for not giving, but the focus of the church needs to be on the faith of the hearer, not the offering the hearer may be carrying. And if nothing else, the member can always mail their offering to the church on Monday.
Does it require more effort to write a check or put cash in an envelope and take it to church on Sunday? Yes, but not everything in life needs to be easier and more convenient. Sometimes, the complicated and inconvenient is better for both the Church and the individual.