Resumption of offertory in church
Dear BPCWA worshipper, We certainly thank God for the faithfulness of the worshippers who continued to return to the Lord during the period when we were unable to have in-person collections. Do not forget that this is not just for Sunday worship, but also for fellowship meetings. With the lifting of many pre-COVID restrictions, we have restarted today the collection of offerings in church this week. At present, we do not separate between tithes and offerings, so both tithes and offerings should be dropped into the offering bag as they are being passed around. To reduce the need for everyone to handle the bag, only offertory stewards will be handling the bags and passing them around so that worshippers can drop their offerings into the outstretched bag when it reaches them.
Why we resume in-church collections. 1) Those who are not familiar with online banking can resume giving weekly. While we were maintaining both the online as well as the offering box process previously, the box was taken out only on the first week of the month due to some logistical constraints. Now, everyone can give every week. 2) Anonymity of offering bag collection. When it was online, some may have had concerns that it was not anonymous, although the church does not intentionally scrutinise the givings except for the need to ensure proper accounting such as to report dedicated love gifts. None should have stopped but if you did, you should return the “backlog” to God to avoid robbing God (Mal 3:8). 3) Children can give. With online banking, the children were dependent on their parents to help them give to the Lord. This physical collection allows them to resume their giving as how they used to do in the pre-COVID days. This allows children to learn to return to the Lord from young. God willing, this will help parents inculcate in children the practice early in their lives. Children who find it difficult to part with their coins when young will find it even more difficult to part with “their” hard-earned money when they grow up and start working. 4) Makes giving a conscious activity. We are thankful for the convenience of online banking when it was needed. Perhaps for many, it was through the setup of a regular scheduled transfer. However, the need to give cash causes the person to be more conscious in planning and thinking through the giving since he has to prepare for it in order to put it in the offering bag each week. This is in line with the Bible’s exhortation to “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him” (1 Cor 16:2). There should be a consideration and thought of how one has been provided for by God as he prepares to return to the Lord, something which is not as apparent in a regular scheduled online transfer. This “prosper” in that verse is not limited to only abundance and excesses, but it is referring to how God has led in a good way. 5)Serves as a regular visual reminder that what we have is from God. The practice of withdrawing cash, putting it into our wallets/ handbags/ pockets makes us conscious of God’s providence to us. And then dropping it into the offering bag is literally “acting out” what the Bible teaches that “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee” (Deut 16:17). Dropping our tithes and offerings into the offering bag gives “flesh” to the theology of giving. The point is that this act would help lead one to greater mindfulness and hence thankfulness to God for His goodness to us.
Offerings are part of physical worship. Giving is expected as part of worship in the Scriptures. “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts” (Ps 96:8). We may be vaguely familiar with the numerous and rather complex offerings required by worshippers in Old Testament times. However, the simplicity of worship in the New Testament without the sacrifices and offerings can lull us into complacency that bringing offerings to worship God today is an optional activity that can be dispensed with at our will and fancy, depending on our “convictions” and individual circumstances at that point. While the Old Testament period looked forward to the sacrifice of Christ and the New Testament period looked back to that event, the infinite price of our salvation is the same for both Old and New Testament saints. Knowing that should make us realise that our offerings are not even a drop in the infinite ocean of the riches of grace that God has shown to us in salvation. Giving to God is glorifying Him in an act of worship of God for Who He is and what He has done. Hence, we should give prayerfully and mean the words of the hymn as we bring our offerings to Him in worship.
Our attitude in offerings. 1) The temptation to stop or reduce our tithes and offerings because it is now “secret” can arise in our flesh. Bringing offerings to the Lord is part of our testimony as God’s people, obligation to return to Him as Christians, and worship of our gracious God. As we restart our offering collections in church, let us be reminded that while our giving is secret to man, it certainly is no secret to our omniscient God, for we are reminded that “Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury” (Mk 12:41). Remember that of what God has given to you, He will one day also require of you to account for what you have done with it. 2) You may feel that it is more inconvenient. While it certainly is way more convenient for both worshippers and the church to be able to transfer the funds over at the click of an online banking button, I hope that this pastoral will help us understand and bring our tithes and offerings in a better manner and spirit. We can be so pragmatic and practical that we forget that certain practices build spiritual awareness. So, let us rejoice, not regret, that we can resume this practice in church, and let us do it with the right spirit as His children and His subjects.
Matt 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. . .19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
Yours in our Lord’s service,