Just Pass the Offering Plate!

As a kid, I grew up in a Baptist church. This meant that hymns were sung, nice clothes were worn, and traditions were observed. I don’t remember at what age exactly (I think I was still in elementary school), but my parents decided to leave our church. After some searching, our family ended up at a non-denominational Calvary Chapel.

Side Note: Now for those of you who are not familiar with Calvary Chapel, Calvary Chapel was born out of the 1960’s Jesus Movement. Think of it as the perfect blend of hippies and the Bible. Which is to say Calvary Chapel was about as far from my traditional Baptist upbringing as possible.

Now, each Calvary Chapel is different. Each church has it’s own unique blend of people and culture. For instance, some of the churches pass the offering plate; others have “Agape Boxes” at the back of the sanctuary to place your tithe in. I say all of this to show that I have come from both sides of the tithing/offering spectrum (I currently attend a Southern Baptist Church that passes the plate weekly).

I have never thought of tithing or passing the offering plate as a cover charge to enter the church.

Today I came across an article by Shane Raynold entitled “Losing the Offering Plate“. For some reason this post really bothered me. Perhaps it was the “if you are still passing an offering plate you are guilty of using the crutch of tradition” tone the post takes. Doesn’t matter. I believe that passing the offering plate:

  • Allows the giving of tithes and offerings to become a part of the worship service. For me, I’m not looking around at what others are and are not giving. I am simply giving a portion of the money that God has chosen to bless me with back to Him.
  • Also allows for the church community as a whole to obediently give to God together. Not in secret. Not in the church lobby using credit/debit card kiosks to conveniently swipe in secret if at all (talk about enabling people who are already in debt). The plate, for me, often is a gentle reminder as to whether I (read: my wife) have written the tithe check or not.

Ultimately, I believe that this is a matter of personal church preference that has nothing to do with the core Gospel message. Whether you have “debit kiosks” or a traditional plate, neither is a crutch or somehow more holy. Giving to God is giving, period. No matter what the method.

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2 thoughts on “Just Pass the Offering Plate!

  1. Really like your perspective on this one. As someone who volunteered to count the offering for something like five years, I’ve often daydreamed about what it would be like if we just had those admittedly awful kiosks for debit/credit cards. (I worked with the cash, and OH, THE ORIGAMI I SAW. It would’ve been impressive if I didn’t have to unfold it to count it.) But you’re totally right: passing the plate is an important part of the “corporate worship” service, and I’d love to see churches actually highlight and celebrate that more.

    As for the “ugh, tradition” thing, perhaps that could be addressed by some creative person who wants to re-imagine the offering plate itself. We’ve had the same ugly gold plates for what seems like centuries. I’d love to see something more modern happen there. :)

    • Thanks for the comment! The only thing, inside a church, that needs fixing are the people in it. Traditions boil down to the heart of the people upholding them.

      You thinking designer offering plates? Sounds like an interesting company. :)

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