Ask 10 random pastors and I bet you at least 6 or 7 of them will admit to having a disdain for raising the offering at some point in their pastoral career (okay, calm down – when I said “bet” I didn’t mean bet for real, ‘kay? It was just a figure of speech). As a result, some churches have tried to “hide” offering time in the service or rush through it. Some just put ushers by the door and “invite” parishioners to give on their way out. Some encourage first-time visitors not to give, and “just enjoy the worship service.”  Some have gone to opposite extremes and try to guilt, brow-beat, or threaten members and guests alike into giving.  Somehow, “giving” has become a dirty word in the church.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand what went down here. From what I can tell, a number of things contributed to the “g” word’s removal from the Mother Jenkins’ Clean Language Dictionary of Jesus Christ.

  • Somebody’s dishonest pastor and/or finance staff misappropriated or just flat-out STOLE funds.
  • Somebody else’s pastor and/or finance staff mismanaged funds, perhaps with good intentions.
  • Somebody’s pastor and/or finance staff didn’t see the importance of keeping their records current, accessible and accurate so that contributors would have a sense of confidence in their stewardship.
  • Somebody’s pastor just refused to be transparent, creating a shroud of “mystery” in the “back room” where all things financial take place.
  • Somebody’s pastor doesn’t work, is never seen giving, hasn’t written any books, won any lottery, or inherited any riches, yet always seems to buy new luxury cars, meanwhile the church hasn’t had running water in 3 months, all except ONE of the light fixtures are out, and the building fund hasn’t funded any buildings in 22 years.
  • And a whole buncha somebodies have pastors who engaged in unGodly and unBiblical “tactics, tricks, and gimmicks” to get money: offering false prophecies, employing guilt trips, manipulating them into giving their rent money (and then refusing to help when they get evicted), locking doors demanding that “nobody leaves until this money is raised…”

And the list goes on and on… I’m sure you are probably thinking now of one or two I missed.

So yeah, the picture is pretty grim. But, where does this leave the honest, well-meaning, Bible-abiding pastors who – like all others – rely primarily on tithes and offering to keep the doors of the church open (and the A/C running, thank ya Jesus)?

The bottom line is this: pastors who think of giving as a dirty word are impeding their members’  blessing and financial overflow. There are Biblical promises that ONLY apply to tithers (Malachi 3). The Word declares that God LOVES a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:7). In fact, the Bible says that our gifts aren’t really gifts anyway, they’re investments (give and it shall be given back to you – Investing 101… and Luke 6:38). So we’re not really giving to God, we’re loaning… your members are guaranteed in writing to get it back, maybe even multiplied. Pastors should never refrain from reminding their members and guests what the Word says about giving – just as they would freely remind them what the Word says about repentance, salvation, baptism, or anything else. Giving is a form of worship, and should be taught with great emphasis and without shame or reluctance. It is as essential a part of the worship service as praise & worship. Moreover, it is a Biblical mandate. There are countless scriptures that serve as direct examples of God instructing the people to give; you know them, and your members should too.

I believe that if we do it God’s way, we will have the same experience Moses had in Exodus 36 when the gifts were so abundant that he had to restrain them from giving. I bet you’d love to have that problem, wouldn’tcha?

So how do we get “giving” reinstated in Mother Jenkins’ Dictionary? Pastors should ensure that the principles of giving are adequately taught and that the income is properly managed. Members should give cheerfully, liberally, and deliberately.  Offering time should be simple and Biblical. The mood (or “atmosphere” for those of you who are churchy) should be celebratory and exciting. There should be an announcement that it’s offering time, followed by loud clapping, praise, and shouting music in B flat… (okay, well maybe that’s just how it goes in LaRue’s Perfect Church Land).  There should be some sort of brief scripture-based encouragement to give, perhaps a reminder of the benefits of tithing and giving offerings, and then the people should come running with their gifts, under the direction of the ushers. And then the stewards should pay the bills according to the budget (which was developed with prayer and prudence). And then everyone, including God, should be happy.

Your thoughts?