Monday, April 11, 2011

Why We Have Offering Talks Each Sunday

This is a new component that we have added to our services this year, and have now been doing them for three months.  “Offering Talks” are 3 minute blocks of time in the regular Sunday service specifically devoted to the topic of giving and generosity.  It is a time in which we explain the “what” and “why” behind receiving an offering.

Here’s are few reasons why we have them:

1.  Giving and generosity is basic discipleship. It is Christianity 101.  This is not some deep theological issue.  Nor is it a taboo subject to be avoided in church.  It is as basic to Christianity as prayer is, and God’s people need to learn what God has to say about money and Jesus’ Lordship over it.  These three-minute talks each week give us a steady diet, albeit a snapshot, of what the Bible actually has to say about our money and our responsibility to be generous.

2.  For too many years at PCC we treated the offering as a tack-on at the end of the service instead of incorporating it as a vital part of our worship.  This was a big mistake, mostly on my part, and we made a deliberate decision to fix it.  To be sure, as a new church plant dedicated to targeting irreligious people, it was important for us to minimize the emphasis on money.  It was an effective strategy in our early years. But we did it too long.  Over time it conditioned a lot of people to coast along for free while others carried the load.  Besides, it also resulted in the stunted spiritual growth for a lot of people. 

3.  It means I don’t have to do a sermon series on finances out of desperation.  Think about it.  When we de-emphasize money and giving all year long it results in a financial shortfall for your church.  So what does the pastor have to do?  He has to get up there and preach a desperate message series on giving just so the church can survive!   That’s not good.  It’s not good for discipleship, and it’s not good for business.  Everyone feels like they are being yanked around – both the pulpit and the pew.  In contrast, by having offering talks each week our finances remain consistently strong.  Furthermore, when or if I ever do a message series on finances, it will not be out of desperation – it will simply be another message series on “discipleship.”  Additionally, it will feel ‘normal’ because everyone will have already been pre-conditioned to this subject.

4.  The three minute offering talks on giving are easier to swallow than an intense message series.  Anyone can listen to a three-to-five minute talk on giving each week; even those who don't want to hear it.  Besides, there is a cumulative effect:   three minutes each Sunday multiplied by 52 Sundays is equivalent to a five-week sermon series on the subject.

5.  It’s important to be taught that God owns it all.  Yes, God owns you and all your stuff...... The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty (Haggai 2:8)...... The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (Psalm 24:1).  For more evidence of God's claim of ownership, also see Deuteronomy 10:14;  Psalms 50:10;  Psalms 50:12; I Chronicles 29:11, Colossians 1:16.

6.  Stewardship is essential to spiritual growth.  Since God owns everything to begin with, that makes us “stewards” of His stuff.  We are ‘managers’ not the real owners.  Until a person understands Biblical Stewardship and changes their attitude about money and material possessions, they will never manage their earthly possessions in a Biblical manner.

7.  We believe that people are bombarded with incorrect messages everyday telling them how to view money.  For instance, T.V. commercials, businesses, charities, civic organizations, and the music industry all make appeals for money.  But if the church remains silent, we are allowing people to hear a one-sided view of what money is and how it should be used.  The world is not afraid to ask for financial commitments, but for some reason the church has been.  For example, has your power company ever apologized for asking you to make a payment?  Of course not.  At PCC, we have overcome that fear.  We use our offering talks as an opportunity to be clear about what the scriptures teach concerning God’s standard of giving from His people.  We don’t apologize for this.  We didn’t’ write the Bible, God did.

8.  We talk about money because the BIBLE talks about money.  The Bible talks about money too much for us to simply ignore or avoid the subject.  There are around 500 verses on prayer in the Scriptures, less than 500 on faith…but over 2,000 on money and possessions.  Sixteen out of the thirty eight parables Jesus told had to do with money!  To make it plain and simple:  Jesus taught on money and so will we.

9.  Jesus said that money was the number one competitor for our hearts.  If there is one area of our lives, above all else, that holds us back from being fully devoted to Jesus Christ, it is the area of our finances.  This often becomes a stronghold, or a hold-out spot.  (Read Matthew 6:21 and 6:24).  The weekly offering talks systematically chip away at these strongholds, teaching the Christian that obedience in finances is something God demands.

10.  We cannot live with the assumption that everything is for our consumption.  Instead, we are admonished in the scriptures to live in moderation, restraining ourselves from over-indulgence.  In Luke 21:34 Jesus warns us to not live a life of over-indulgence, especially in food & drink and the cares of this life.  Read it closely and you will discover that the glutton is placed in the same category as the drunkard.  These are strong words from our Lord.  Here’s the point:  Anyone who is over-indulging themselves is consuming too much.  Instead of indulging ourselves in excess, we should be generous and sharing from our excess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

AMEN! Not only are ALL your points dead-on, but money can be a HUGE vehicle of bondage! It isn't until we really "get it" (that NONE of it belongs to us, and we are stewards) that we are actually freed.