Making The Contribution a Time of True Worship
"But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this?
For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given you."
-David, after the collection to build the temple, in 1 Chronicles 29:14
I confess that the contribution part of the worship service hasn’t always been a time of meaningful worship for me. More often than not, I subconsciously feel like it is a breather time that follows the Lord’s Supper before we get back to singing. In fact, we often make an explicit statement to remind people that the contribution of giving is separate from the Lord’s Supper, which might have the unintended side effect of making us think that the “reflection” time is over, and that thus that there is nothing meaningful to think about during the time of giving to God. But that certainly wasn't the case with David in the above verse, who takes the time of giving as a time of prayer and meaningful worship. In fact, 1 Chronicles 29:9 says "they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart." I'm ashamed to say my whole heart isn't always there when I'm putting my check in the collection plate.
So with the Thanksgiving holiday just behind us (a time that always causes me to reflect on our blessings and how we use them), I began thinking about the giving portion of our assembly, and how I can personally be making that even more a time of actual worship, rather than just a time of dropping something in the plate and twiddling my thumbs until the song leader gets back up there. ;)
Here’s some of the thoughts I’ve had, that I can hopefully remind myself of in order to make the contribution time a time of true, heartfelt worship to God:
1) During the contribution, I want to think more about the blessings I have. I’d like this to be a weekly part of my personal worship, and certainly not just something I reflect on around Thanksgiving. And if our giving is indeed as we have prospered (1 Cor. 16:2), then the giving portion of worship is the perfect time to spend a few minutes reflecting on just how much we have prospered.
So as the plates are passed around, I want to think more about our house, our cars, our heating and air conditioning, our running water. I want to think about our kids having all that they need and more. I want to say a prayer for those who are poor and struggling. I want to think about the fact that I get a paycheck each week, and be reminded that God has given me all I have, including the ability to earn a paycheck (Deut. 8:17-18).
Those reflections should certainly make that time of worship meaningful, and no doubt would also help us be more “cheerful givers.” (2 Cor. 9:7)
2) During the contribution, I want to think more about where my offering is going to. The church’s contribution is a time of God’s people pitching in together to further God’s work in His world. So what better time of our worship to reflect on God’s work through us, and ask God’s blessing on it?
So as the plates are passed around, I want to think about the worldwide mission efforts we support, and ask God’s blessing on them. I want to think about our ministry staff, and how blessed we are to give our lives full-time to trying to help others grow in faith and get to heaven. I want to think about the children’s homes we support. I want to think about all our local outreach efforts and Bible classes and youth events, asking God’s blessing on each of them. I want to think about the building we are worshiping in, which serves as our “outpost for ministry” here in the Memphis area.
The church has so many simultaneous goals we are trying to accomplish, and we need God to lead the way in all of them, for His glory. What better time to pray for them and reflect on them, than during the contribution that helps support all of our works?
I’m going to try to do better. I believe our time of giving can be just as meaningful as the rest of our worship, and it even provides a weekly time of unique reflection on our blessings and our work. So hopefully, this Sunday when the plates are being passed around, God will find me truly worshipping…