July 22, 2022
Dear Church Family,
Over the last few months several people have asked me how soon we will resume passing the offering plate at church and allowing the kids to collect the lambs' offering before the children's story. I had a discussion with the church board this week about these matters and I wanted to let you know where things stand. The church board voted not to resume the lambs' offering at this time. No vote was taken regarding the regular offering, but it seems likely to me that we will not be resuming passing the plate any time soon and perhaps not ever. Here are some of the reasons:
- Many people thought that the pandemic would result in sharp declines in giving. Thankfully, those fears were misplaced. Since the start of the pandemic when we stopped taking up offerings during worship, giving has actually increased slightly. We praise God for His provision and for the generosity of our church family! Ministry has been able to move forward and even expand in spite of the pandemic. Since we stopped taking up the lambs' offering the amount of money being given to Captain Gilmer Christian School Student Aid Fund (the beneficiary of the lambs' offering) has nearly tripled. And it makes sense that we would see an increase. Whereas formerly people were sending dollar bills down the aisle with kids, now they are giving systematically online and are giving more than a couple dollars at a time. If the priority is seeing more students have the funding for an Adventist education, then let's not tinker with a system that is working so well.
- When I talk to parents of kids who go forward for the children's story, most of them tell me that their kids aren't complaining about not getting to take up the lambs' offering. Many of the kids don't even remember a time when the lambs' offering was collected so they don't know what they are missing.
- Offering collection is a security risk. More cash on hand means we are a greater target for thieves. Online giving has been safe and secure for the givers as well as for the church. Furthermore, processing online offerings is faster and more accurate than totaling cash and checks by hand like we used to do.
- Our society continues to move away from cash and checks and towards digital means of payment. The younger generation use apps on their phones to transfer money and make payments. We would do well to expand avenues of online giving and think about how to encourage our young people to be systematic givers online.
- As online giving has become more common, sitting through the passing of the plate has become awkward for people who have already given online. As a solution to the awkwardness, one person I know of used to print out the receipt from their online giving and put that in the offering plate so they could at least participate during offering time, but that wastes a tree and printer ink and just feels weird.
- Our worship services already run 70-90 minutes in length. Adding back offering collections will mean cutting something else from the worship service.
I realize that this change is hard for some of us to adjust to. We feel a sense of loss. Something that we have done for many years is no longer part of the worship service. It may be appropriate to mourn the loss and move on. It may also be appropriate to speak up and let one of the board members know how you feel about this change. We haven't made a final decision about all of this yet.
The biggest loss I felt when I personally made the switch to online giving years ago was the sense that I was appearing before the Lord empty-handed on Sabbath (see Deuteronomy 16:16). Giving is an act of worship and it is wonderful to have a physical action during the worship service that allows us to worship through giving at the same time we are worshiping through song and scripture. I have learned to be content with asynchronous worship. I appear before the Lord on Sabbath knowing that I have worshiped Him in giving already.
You may return tithes and give offerings online at Adventist Giving or in-person by putting cash or check in an offering envelope and placing it in the offering box on the welcome desk in the church narthex.
May God bless you and your family!