One Way to Make the Offering Plate Less About $$$
You too can dance like Taylor Swift...
I know what you’re secretly saying:
Please tell me that’s a fake headline from The Onion. Making the offering plate less about money is like Angelina without Brad! It’s like AC without DC! It’s like John without Wesley!
But if your “giving of tithes and offerings” has become a perfunctory experience, perhaps it’s time, as Taylor Swift so aptly says, to “Shake It Off” and try something new. What?! You didn't realize that Taylor was singing about the offering plate? Well then, why else would it be a #1 hit?
One terrific “shake it off” idea comes from Jefferson United Methodist Church in the small town of Jefferson, OR (population 3,150). Brilliant reader Tami Manning writes,
At Jefferson United Methodist Church, Rev. Bill Hays always reminds EVERYONE to physically hold the plate each week as a symbol and time to think about all areas of their faithful giving. I've never experienced this in worship before, but have found it very meaningful.
Now everyone is clear to pass it to everyone for the "hold" or at least "the touch" of giving their whole selves – not just financial resources. Those go in too, but for most of us just once a month. With this new mode, we are aware of what we can GIVE every week! I like it!
Just like the Irish Spring commercial, “I like it too.” This is an easily implemented idea – but you need get everyone who will be directly involved on board – especially the ushers. I recently tried this a few Sundays ago when I helped out with worship. I had everyone’s rapt attention about what we were going to do with the offering plate only to have the ushers do their usual “spot check” up and down the rows. If no one grabbed the offering plate fast enough, the ushers immediately went to the next row. That was my bad for not informing these key people that I was going to do something out of the ordinary around the offering.
Symbolically holding the offering plate in prayer also can’t be a “one and done” event. If you adopt this nifty idea it needs to happen every week – at least for a while. You’ll want people to expect it and have them anticipate what their prayer/offering will be as they hold the plate.
So you see, the offering plate (or bag, basket, or hat) does not always have to be about money. But it always needs to be about what we can sacrificially give to the One who gives us our life and our breath. There’s nothing fake about that.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She is sure that Taylor Swift will be contacting her to help with her next video about the offering plate. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.