Most evangelical leaders believe it is very important for churches to collect offerings as part of their worship services, according to the June Evangelical Leaders Survey. On 10-point scale with 10 being “very important” and one being “not important at all,” evangelical leaders scored the importance of taking up an offering at 7.7 on average. The most common response given by 45 percent of evangelical leaders surveyed was 10.
Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), said, “A trend towards online giving has led some churches not to take up offerings during their worship services. While online giving is here to stay, most evangelical leaders think something should also be done in church services to encourage a spirit of giving as part of offering our whole selves to God.”
“While I am not opposed to online giving, the mentality when giving online at another time can become that giving to the church is simply another business transaction,” said Brian Eckhardt, general superintendent of The Evangelical Church denomination. “Most of our contemporary forms of worship have eliminated the idea that we are to bring something to God in worship. Congregants can easily become passive recipients. Removing the act of taking an offering further contributes to this trend.”
Rich Nathan, pastor of Vineyard Columbus, said, “Giving of our wealth is as much a part of the worship experience as the giving of our praise.”
Deborah Pegues, who has served as a financial consultant to large churches, said, “People need to be taught consistently to give and then given various options to do so. In my work, I’ve also noticed that donors who are tech-savvy embrace online giving and do so faithfully. Notwithstanding, those who are not should continue to be afforded the traditional method of onsite giving.”
Several leaders noted that some churches no longer pass an offering basket or plate, but instead have an offering box in the back of the church for those who prefer to give a physical gift. Other churches include a regular announcement about giving and some pause to allow time for people to text to give, even if they do not pass an offering plate.
Rich Stearns, president emeritus of World Vision, U.S., said, “The offering is symbolically significant but so few people actually participate in it these days. I think it’s probably more important for a church to espouse a robust theology of giving consistently throughout the year.”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.