Notes on the Liturgy #15 – The Offering

January 6th, 2009 Post by

(One of the goals of Brothers of John the Steadfast is to train the Brothers in good practice and theology. This article is one in a series that teaches about the liturgy.

These articles were initially intended to be put into bulletins or read during the service to educate the laity on the different parts of the service. They were therefore purposefully made short.

Notes on the Liturgy #15 — The Offering

How often have we heard, “all the church cares about is money?” To such a person, the Offering becomes an opportunity to rationalize his hostile attitude. The Offering isn’t really meant for such a person. As a matter of fact, it has been my experience that giving doesn’t come by way of the new convert either. Offerings spring out of the deep–the deepness of abiding in Christ’s grace. When people mature in Christ, offerings can flow more freely. Indeed, the Christian offers his whole life up to God as a response to His mercy (Romans 12:1-2). The Offering only makes sense when seen in the light of Christ. When Christ holds the strings to open my heart, He will in time hold the purse strings as well.

Please note, the Offering isn’t a momentary pause in the Divine Service in order to collect the mandatory admission price. Neither is it a required payment of your membership dues in the congregation. The Offering is a time of worship like the hymns and prayers. There are important attitudes that make Christian giving worshipful giving such as first fruits giving, cheerful giving, thoughtful giving, giving in response to God’s blessings, etc. Behind Christian giving is also this crucial understanding–everything that we have is God’s. We merely manage what God already owns. (Exodus 19:5). The question always seems to arise, “How much do I have to give?” or “How much should I give?” Many want to provide an answer to this question that places us back under the Old Testament law of tithing, and while tithing is an admirable goal to have, it is no longer required of the Christian who is set free from the Law by the Gospel. As with so many things in the Christian life, it is better to ask the right question: “How much can I give?” rather than should or must. The answer for us is willing, regular, proportional, first-fruits giving. Our gifts and offerings are given on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, etc), they reflect a response to the Lord for His blessings to us (proportional), and they are the first-fruits of what we receive (not what is left over after all of the bills are paid and our recreational funds are spent). In the end, the exact amount is between you and your Lord, but we are encouraged by Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (II Cor. 9:7)

Previous Notes on the Liturgy —
Introit, Psalm or Hymn
Kyrie and Gloria
Alleluia Verse and other responses
The Hymn and Hymns
The Sermon
The Creeds
The Prayers
The Offering
Preface and Proper Preface
Pre-Communion Prayer & Lord’s Prayer
Communion & the Peace
Agnus Dei
Post Communion Canticle & Collect

You may find all these by looking at our Regular Column on the Explanation of the Divine Service category or by using the shortcut

These notes were originally written in 2001 by Pastor David Oberdieck and have been edited. Thanks to Pastor Mathey for improvements to this segment.

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  1. January 6th, 2009 at 07:43 | #1

    I’m wondering if the author of this article or anyone else with genuine knowledge of the subject would care to comment on the history of offering collection within the liturgy. Have Christians always “passed the plate”? When and where and why and how did that practice develop?

    How is it that offerings tend to fall somewhere in the middle of every liturgy in which I have ever participated whether Lutheran, evangelical, or whatever? Has that always been the time for offerings?

    Have Christians always felt so compelled to give a tithe? In my experience evangelicals rarely want to call anything “mandatory,” but with a wink and a nod it is generally understood that 10% is a necessary minimum gift for anyone living comfortably. Have Christians always paid such close attention to that 10% benchmark? When and where and why and how was that sort of theology developed?

    Thanks for the article.

  2. Steven Bobb
    January 6th, 2009 at 09:56 | #2

    I think this would be the place to discuss the Offertory and the procession. Any takers?

  3. Rev. Allen Strawn
    January 6th, 2009 at 12:49 | #3

    While I can not site sources, I was once instructed that the (monetary) offering was not originally a part of the Divine Service, but it was rather collected in a sealed box at the door. The “passing the plate” became a more regular feature in revivalist America where they would pass the plate over and over again during the “service” until all the needs were met.

    Again, I wish I had sources, but unfortunately, I do not.

    I’m certain the Offertory will receive its own segment.

  4. January 6th, 2009 at 13:35 | #4

    I just added the remaining segements to these liturgy notes to this article; offeratory does not have it’s own segment currently. Is there something you want to discuss here?

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