Offering Is Worship
The offering is a specific part of worship that is not like any other act of corporate worship. This is the main reason we haven’t taken it out of the worship service in order to communicate “we are not about money” to skeptics who would presume that. I believe it would diminish our worship not to make financial giving part of it. Giving is one of the most worshipful things we do, because when we give money, the opportunity cost is not just a few minutes of singing, it is the very life, labor and future that our liquid capital represents. It is a “show me don’t tell me” moment of worship, where we let go of the security or pleasure our money can purchase in order to demonstrate our worship of God and our love of his mission. And so I believe giving belongs in the worship service as much as any other component.
And yet there are many skeptics and nominally religious people who believe that the church, and especially larger churches like ours in nice buildings, are all about money. Therefore the way we approach the offering is of particular importance.
I believe our introduction to the offering should have the following components:
- Setting at ease of non-Christians, or people for whom High Point is not their church. Giving is an act of worship within the context of a concrete group of people – namely the local church. Therefore people at High Point who are not Christians, or who should be part of another concrete group of people, should not feel obligated to give. They may give if they like, but they should feel no moral compunction to give.
- Disassociating giving from salvation – the gospel is free, and cannot be paid for.
- Teaching that giving is a worshipful declaration that God is our security and pleasure, that we desire to be generous like Jesus, and that we love his mission in the world. It is a holistic form of worship in which we directly worship God by declaring his worth, indirectly worship God by desiring to be like him in character, and indirectly worship God by declaring the worth of his mission of redemption.
- It is therefore also a declaration of discipleship.
- Is also declaration that God deserves worship – our hope is that the offering will be used to lead people to Christ, and that God will be worshiped by more people and that his reputation will be more widely seen for what it should be. Giving is worship partly because through it we seek to help people become worshipers of Jesus.
- Teaching that giving is a spiritual discipline in which we engage because we want to be generous like Jesus. Out of his generosity Jesus saves lives and saves souls, and he calls us to follow him in self-sacrifice. Yet greed is always at the door of our hearts seeking to enthrone a new idol of Mammon. Money is the polar opposite of God – it is nothing but concrete and present, fulfilling our most visceral desires. Therefore it needs to constantly be put in its place, and we must show ourselves it is not God by offering it to God.
- Clarifying that we are on God’s mission to save lives and to save souls. Our gifts are not just worship, they are a participation in Christ’s mission.
- Our hearts are where our money is – Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be” – giving is one of the most powerful ways we can find our heart to something. You can’t help but care about the things you give to.
So an introduction to giving would sound something like this:
As we enter the time of the offering, I want to put you at ease if Jesus isn’t your Lord, or if High Point isn’t your local church. The gospel is free, and the only thing we would like to receive from you this morning is a connection card.
Yet for those of us who served Jesus at this local church, we declare by our giving that God is worth more to us than the security and pleasure that comes from our money. We give as a spiritual discipline to free ourselves from greed so that we can become generous like Jesus. And we declare the worth and importance of God’s mission to save lives and to save souls, and gladly embrace our part in it.
Let’s pray: ‘Father we offer this to you. It represents our life, labor; our time and our future. All of these things belong to you – they come from you, and their rightly offered to you. We give is a symbol of our recognition that everything belongs to you. We give because, Holy Spirit, we pray in this spiritual discipline that you would use it to make us generous like Jesus. And lastly, Jesus, we declare that your mission in the world to save lives and to save souls is utterly worthwhile, and it is the desire of our hearts to faithfully participate in the work you’ve called us to. Please help this church to steward this gift properly, and to use it for the good of our neighbors and for the increase of your reputation.
The key here is not to teach on giving. Periodically that will be useful, but it is not what we do week in and week out.
We are seeking to do three things each week:
- Make an offering to God pleases him – to make sure we give in the right spirit, for the right reason, for the right purpose
- To undo the stereotypes of those who think of giving cynically
- To encourage people who are giving that they are doing the right thing – and that giving is a blessing and brings blessing
Following the above guidelines should accomplish this.