Giving to the support of the work of God is an act of worship, and has been so regarded from the earliest times. "Sing unto the Lord, bless His name," wrote the psalmist; "give unto the Lord.... Bring an offering, and come into His courts." Unfortunately, there is a tendency to regard the taking of the offering as more or less a matter of business, necessary but disagreeable—dread before it is taken, and relief when it is over. It may be that the methods sometimes employed in the raising of offerings have helped to build up in the minds of the congregation a feeling against this special act of worship which, when it is rightly entered into, is as spiritual and helpful as any other.
In this matter as in others affecting the house and worship of God, education has much to do. The first thing is for the pastor or elder to know the ideal which he wishes to reach, and then seek to attain it. When the pastor himself regards the receiving of the offering as an act of worship, and so treats it, the congregation will not be slow to follow him.
In this connection a few simple suggestions may be pertinent:
1. Never allow this part of the service to partake of the spirit of an auction mart or vaudeville. Jokes or amusing stories are as out of place in connection with the taking of the offering as they would be in the prayer.
2. Use the devices furnished in connection with the various money-raising schemes sparingly. Never allow the feeling to come in that the main thing for which the congregation is assembled is the raising of funds, no matter how worthy the cause to which they are to be given.
3. Never speak of the offering as a collection. To do so takes from the act the true spirit of worship.
4. Use as little time as possible in taking the offering, even during the special campaigns, such as Big Week, Harvest Ingathering, etc. Much prayer and little talk produces the best results. This is said carefully and in all sincerity after more than twelve years' experience with a large congregation.
5. The deacons or ushers who are to take the offering should be so organized as to reach every member of the congregation easily, quietly, and quickly. When the baskets or plates have been received, they may be given to two of the deacons at the head of the main aisle or aisles. These men then bring the offering to the table, the audience rising while the blessing of God is asked upon it. The offertory played on the organ may be continued softly during the prayer, and while the deacons are taking their seats.
A few suggestive calls for offerings are herewith appended:
1. Loving the Lord Jesus, let us consecrate ourselves anew to Him today as we worship Him with our gifts.
2. On the wings of service, hastening the glad day when His kingdom shall come, and His will be done in earth as it is in heaven. may these our tithes and offerings go in His name.
3. Jesus gave His life for us, shedding His very blood in Gethsemane and on Calvary. How little we have done for Him in return ! Shall we not today, if only in a meager way, endeavor to thank Him with our gifts?
4, Desiring to hasten the coming of our Lord, let us bring to Him our tithes and offerings to be used to His glory in proclaiming this message of the kingdom until it shall have reached every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
5. With songs of praise upon our lips, and thanks within our hearts, we come into the Lord's house today. May we now worship Him with our tithes and offerings, as in every other detail of our service, in spirit and in truth, and in the very beauty of holiness.
6. And now unto Him who hath loved us, and hath washed us in His own precious blood ; to Him to whom we owe a debt that we can never pay, let us come with grateful hearts, yielding to Him the first fruits of our lives, and thereby endeavoring to reciprocate the great love He has extended to us through Jesus, our Saviour.
7. Obeying the divine injunction, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it," we come to the Giver of every good and perfect gift, asking Him to accept us, and to use to His glory that which we bring to Him in His name.
Takoma Park, D. C.