Inspiring Generosity: Is The Offering Plate Relevant? You Respond: Pro


Is The Offering Plate Relevant? You Respond: Pro

Hole-lee smokes! That was amazing. And, no, I am not referring to last night’s Ted Lasso series finale sobfest.
What I am talking about are your responses to last week’s post: Is the Offering Plate Relevant?
Goodness gracious. Y’all had some feelings about the offering plate. Even though I inadvertently provided an incorrect email (sorry about that), you found a way to let me know your opinion.
“And the winner is…”
Surprise! There’s no clear-cut winner either for or against the beloved, the not-so-beloved, or the gosh-I-feel-ambivalent about the offering plate.
First of all, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Secondly, I'm organizing your comments in some orderly fashion since everyone can benefit from reading them. They'll be edited for clarity and length.
This week, let’s hear from the proponents of the offering plate:
Rev. Ryan S.
If you're going to pass the plate, it needs to be done with intentionality. If it's done because "that's what we've always done" then it loses its significance. 
At Newman UMC, we have an invitation to the offering that often highlights a ministry or a theological point. Folks are invited to consider the ways they can give – not just financially – to their church, family, and community. It's also when we collect written prayer requests and welcome cards. 
Passing the plate is also a low commitment opportunity to get new folks involved in worship or to give children a part in worship. Regarding children helping, it builds a foundation in them that giving is important and something that is done with care and thought…
I have also witnessed our unhoused churchgoers give with cash. Many do this because they don't have access to banking or a reliable smartphone that's connected to data/wifi. But they still want to contribute something! 
Also, I have some anecdotal evidence that it increases giving. When I was assigned to Trinity UMC in Toledo they didn't have a tradition of passing the plate. Once we instituted it our giving increased. 
For me, worship doesn't feel complete without passing the plate. Giving is such an important part of who we are as followers of Jesus that it ought to be done in the context of Holy Worship and celebrated with a bit of meaningful ritual. The plates are an outward physical reminder of an inward blessing (similar to our sacraments). 
I'm glad y'all are having this conversation. I hope it stays loving and productive. 
[Cesie: Ryan, why of course! This is a “Ted Lasso” kind of community…always loving, always productive.]
Gail S.
We’re still passing the plate. I personally agree with the Pros [in last week’s blog]. Passing the weekly plate is a reminder that all we have comes from God.
While we pay our pledge four times a year, there are many special offerings.   
I vote for keeping this symbol! 
Rev. Paul C.
After we reopened from the pandemic, we did not pass the offering plate for well over a year, mostly due to health concerns. But later we reconsidered this, both for financial reasons and for liturgical/religious reasons. We realized that we did take in more money when we passed the plate (from visitors, for example) and it reminded members to give.
Also, we realized that passing the plate, bringing forward the offering, and placing it on the altar while singing the doxology were religiously important elements of our worship celebrating our giving to God and the church' s ministry as a fitting response to God's grace to us. 
Personally, I believe it is essential to Christian worship, quite apart from the question of whether it brings in more money or not. It highlights the need for responsible stewardship of our money.

Here's a comment that serves as a great reminder:
Rev. Lura K-M
I want to stress that I do not think there is a wrong or right answer to whether congregations pass the offering plate. …I'm not interested in telling other congregations/pastors what to do. One thing I'm looking forward to in retirement is getting to deal a lot less with all the "every church/pastor should do x."
Amen, Sister Lura.
 That’s a lot to digest for this week. Next week, let’s get to the “cons” and the following week we’ll look at the “gosh-I-feel-ambivalent” comments about the offering plate.
In the meantime, take a moment to reflect on this prayer by Saint Ignatius of Loyola,
You have given all to me.
To you Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and grace,
That is enough for me.

Image by John Hain at Pixabay.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a Stewardship Consultant for the OR-ID Annual Conference. She is also a Senior Ministry Strategist with Horizons Stewardship. For 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she has helped raise over three million dollars for numerous churches and non-profit organizations.

In honor of Ted Lasso here are two words for you: Goldfish and (spoiler alert) Willis.
You can reach Cesie at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com, at CesieScheuermann.com, or at cesieds@horizons.net. Want to schedule a meeting? She’s got you covered!
Schedule a meeting now.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
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.