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Shift Ministry Models

The Offering as Worship

Giving thanks
by Faith+Lead | August 2, 2021

By Mark Allan Powell

When I was a child, my mother used to pack us all in the station wagon and drive us to church on Sunday morning. She would say, “We are going to worship God! Six days a week, God blesses us, and on Sunday, we go to give thanks!”

Why I Go To Church

I have continued going to church most of my life and have found a lot of reasons to go. Sometimes the sermons are helpful; sometimes the music is inspiring; sometimes the people are friendly; sometimes, I get a lot out of it. The thing is . . . I don’t always get a lot out of it. One thing I have discovered as a lifelong church-goer is that there is hardly ever a Sunday when I cannot  find something to  complain about; but then I remember what my mother said, and I wonder if maybe it’s not about me.

Every day of the week, God blesses us. And on Sunday we go and give thanks. We worship God and give thanks because God is so good to us. And nothing can stop God’s goodness from happening—not even boring sermons, bad hymns, or annoying pew mates. We  can always worship God. We can always  give thanks to God for being so good to us.

Why We Have Offerings

Eventually, I discovered something else: there is no better way to give thanks than with a gift. When someone does something nice we often give them a gift to say thank you. When you love someone, you want to give them things—gifts that say, “I love you.”

Did you know that this is why we have offerings during the church service? I didn’t know that for a long time. I used to think it was because the church needed to collect some money to pay its bills, so every Sunday, we’d take a little break from worship and pass the plates around. 

The church does need to pay its bills, of course, but it doesn’t have to take up an offering on Sunday mornings to do that. People can mail in their money or set up an electronic transfer with their bank. The reason we have an offering on Sunday morning is to give people a chance to say “Thank you” to God,” or to offer a gift that says, “I love you.” 

In ancient Israel people would bring sacrifices of wheat or animals to the altar. They didn’t do this because the temple or tabernacle needed their crops or flock—the wheat and the animals were simply consumed in flames. They did it to worship God, to show their gratitude and love by giving up something of value to them. 

My Favorite Part of Sunday

Once I figured that out, the offering became my favorite part of the service. I do have a fund transfer set up at my bank, and my pledged monthly support for the church comes from that. And, I still bring something each week to put in the offering plate. I come with a gift of thanks  for God in my pocket and wait eagerly through most of the service for that plate to come around. I’ve told my pastor, If you ever think the service is going to be too long, cut out one of the hymns or cut part of your sermon. But don’t you ever cut out the offering! That’s what I’m here for! To worship God and to give God a gift because I am so thankful to God for being so good!

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About the Author
Mark Allan Powell is author of the best-selling textbook Introducing the New Testament and editor of the Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary. He also wrote Giving to God: The Bible’s Good News for Living a Generous Life.

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