From my heart … Some personal reflections about our congregation, our church, and your offering.

In the past few months, we have talked about the offering and the financial status of the church more than usual. That’s not because we want to. Personally, any talk of money in a secular sense in and around the church usually turns out badly, and it makes me very anxious and uncomfortable. Maybe I should talk about it more. I’ll ask Jesus tonight.

But as for your offering, I believe that your offering is yours, not ours. Vine Street Christian Church doesn’t have a right to any of your money, or your time for that matter. Those should be things you decide with God, not from me or anybody else. Your offering, in general terms, reflects who you are, who God is to you, and what your church means to you. It’s very personal, because each one of us is in a different situation. Don’t ever feel like it’s a competition or a standard to be met. Seriously! Your offering is really your love letter to God. You and God will decide what it consists of each day.

So, you see, the offering is not just about money. In fact, for some folks, their offering comes in many different ways. Some give more time to their church and its ministries. Some help take care of their church. Some, especially our remote members, pray constantly and intentionally for their church. And some, but not all, give money. And that’s the way it should be.

The true nature of the “offering” that Jesus asks from us is not just monetary. Jesus wants our lives, and everything that comes with it. Nothing held back. And so, the offering is a visible and tangible way to give back a portion of what we have (time, money, resources, participation, prayer, etc.) to Jesus and His church. He gave us His life. We give Him a portion of ours back.

The one aspect that is clear from scripture, and from Jesus himself, is that our giving be sacrificial, not convenient and easy. As Jesus points out in Mark 12: 41-44, it’s easy for folks to give a little bit from their own abundance; and Jesus says they have their reward here and now. But the true disciple is the one who gave all she had. She will receive eternal rewards.  

This is why the offering is part of our Communion Ceremony each Sunday. It’s at the Lord’s Table where Jesus shows us what His sacrifice for us was, and still is. We receive His broken body and His shed blood in the Communion elements. And then, to complete that exchange of sacrifice, we give back to Jesus some of what He has blessed us with. That’s what Communion really is … a mutual giving and receiving with our Lord.         

Have you ever thought you could give all you have to Jesus? All your time? All your money? All your resources? All your volunteer time? Your whole heart? Now that’s an offering! But, that’s precisely what He wants from us. And because the offering is not just about money, anyone (and potentially everyone) can give sacrificially all they have to Him and His church.

What would that look like for you? I suggest that you consider what “giving all” would look like for you, or your family. Not because it will help the church. That’s the bonus prize. But the practice of sacrificially offering to God on a regular basis, will alter your heart and mind in amazing ways. In ways that only Jesus could change you. You may not win any offering awards or ribbons. There’s no free offering mug for those who give. And you will never be congratulated in church for exactly how much you gave. But you will be given a blessing from God. Not because you gave to the offering. But because you gave according to your heart, as led by God.  

Friends, your offering is between you and God. Period. God will lead you to the place of sacrificial giving in a specific way that works just for you. Never let anyone tell you how much you should give. Only God knows that, and if you ask, God will let you know. And the way you’ll know it’s of God is that your offering BLESSES your life, and doesn’t BURDEN it. That’s a cheerful giver!

When you find this space with God, you will notice that you feel a peace and even a joy from giving. Whatever you’re giving becomes blessed because it’s of God’s will. Blessed money. Blessed time. Blessed life.

So, to put it simply, Vine Street Christian Church, like Jesus, wants to BLESS your life, not BURDEN it. And if we all would follow God’s lead for each one of us, then all that we give is blessed, because all that we gave was of God’s leading us.

Our church has undergone an amazing transformation during and since Covid. As most churches have, we have lost a large percentage of members. But, unlike many churches, we have welcomed many newcomers – individuals, couples, and families. Clearly, God is at work with us. We are in a Godly transition. We are being led by God. And we can be assured that, through our holy giving, God will provide exactly what we need, to do exactly what God calls us to do.

My advice: Don’t ever consider your offering in financial terms. Always open yourself up to God’s voice. God has an offering plan that’s just for you … that will BLESS your life. Ask God to help you decide what your own sacrificial giving should consist of. And when that happens throughout our congregation, then all will be well, in all matter of things. We put our trust in God.

Thanks for reading this. As you see, the offering isn’t really about money … it’s about love. It’s about your life and your relationship with God. It’s about your church and how it best can be the Body of Christ in the world today. And that takes ALL of us. Giving as we are led. Sharing with each other all that we have. And loving everyone as Jesus loves us. I don’t’ know what that will mean for our church, but I know that a community of faith built on those principles will be one BLESSED & BELOVED FAMILY OF FAITH.

And that’s precisely what Jesus wants us to be.

Peace to all. And if you are concerned or upset by anything I have written here, PLEASE don’t keep it from me. Let me know. I am just a work-in-progress like you. I can only be a better pastor when your thoughts and feelings are shared with me. And I want to be better.

In His Name, By His Word, I am,

Pastor Bob <><