The Sunday offering can be an extraordinarily powerful ministry. Committing the offering plate to those less fortunate beyond your own four walls ensures the congregation will be successful in its mission every time people gather together.
Church treasurers may blanch at this recommendation, concerned about losing that line item in the budget. They may claim vociferously that the church cannot afford to do this. Not to worry. Most congregations that give away the offering see a three to fivefold increase in plate contributions, and experience an increase in the annual pledge drive, as well. You will not rob Peter to pay Paul.
By Sunday offering, I mean the “loose offering.” This includes cash and checks that are not designated for other purposes, such as pledge payments.
I also recommend that a representative from the charity that receives the offering make an appearance to accept the money. This puts a human face on the congregation’s mission. One church gave the offering to a veteran’s home, and an 85-year old vet in his World War II uniform showed up to receive the money. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and no one was going to stand up and say the congregation should have kept that money for themselves.
Giving away the Sunday offering is just the right thing to do.
If children are present when the offering is received, it is a magical experience for them to see the collection plate overflow with money. What a wonderful example that is.
Two final points. First, if visitors show up on Sunday morning and the plate passes them with only a few one-dollar bills and some spare change in it, this reflects very poorly on your congregation. Second, most parishioners can put in $5, $10, or $20 on Sunday mornings and this will not affect the quality of their lives later in the week.
Please note: Church members who have already made their annual pledge do not get a free pass on the offering plate! This ministry is for everyone.