Father Dennis Darilek and Father Jimmy Drennan of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, positioned themselves atop a 20-foot pole in an effort to raise money for the church. Sitting in an eight-by-four foot plywood box, these two priests committed to staying in their perch until parishioners had donated $50,000 to build an athletic complex. ”I told everyone, the good news is the money is out there,” Darilek said. ”The bad news is it’s in your pockets.”
At the same time, the pastor of a Baptist Church in Texas encouraged folks in his congregation to sign-up to buy frozen food in the church foyer. The church had recently voted to call a part-time youth minister and the proceeds from the sale of the frozen produce would be used to pay his salary.
These two theologically diverse congregations have something in common. They both approach giving to support the work of the church as fund-raising.
When we reduce giving to fund-raising we totally miss the biblical teaching. Giving is always presented in God’s Word as worship. In fact, in the Old Testament, the entire worship experience was centered on giving an offering or bringing a sacrifice.
In the New Testament we also we find the same relationship between giving and worship: “Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income . . .” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
A common trend among churches today is to remove the offering from worship. This is done by tacking it on at the very end of the service, after all the important stuff is done, or by simply placing a collection box in the foyer. We even do it by reminding the visitors that they are not expected to give an offering; giving is only for members. These approaches, designed to make visitors feel comfortable, give the message that the offering is nothing more than fund raising to pay the bills.
The church does not need to resort to gimmicks in order to receive funds for ministry and missions. We simply need to challenge God’s people with God’s Word. Motivated by their love of God and understanding of God’s will, Christians will give without manipulation and chicanery.