The Jewish people gave offerings to God as their way of showing honor, life, and devotion. These were always meticulous offerings, giving the –
Contrary to what some may think, a sacrifice/offering was lifted up not cast downward.
Think of a baseball player who uses his at-bat as a sacrifice fly ball to the deep outfield to move a base runner from third base to home (also known as a “sacrifice fly ball”). That player doesn’t go to the dugout feeling defeated, as if his at-bat was a waste. Nor do his teammates feel sorry for him because he suffered a loss, a wasted at-bat. No, they greet him with celebration because his effort lifted the team.
That is how an offering works. It lifts someone else and the expense of another, but it is not categorized as a waste.
An offering is a gift for someone else.
So, when a church is asked “what do you offer,” we often describe a worship service, counseling help, youth and children’s programs, etc. These items are intended to be a service from the church to benefit others.
I think that it would be good (and a step in the right direction) if we as church folks began to answer this question a bit differently.
Instead of offering services, events, etc… what if when asked about what we offer we say…
“We offer the Robertson’s. They are a great family and have an incredible story. Jim is an excellent coach in little league. Karen is an advocate for alternative housing for those in poverty in our city.
“We offer the Peterson’s. Harold has worked for the same company for 30 years and his peers suggest that he is dedicated, trustworthy, calm under pressure, and that he keeps no record of wrongs. His wife Cheryl is an amazing host and softens up the hardest heart with her famous chicken casserole and apple fritters.
“We offer Steve Williams because he has a passion for kids. He is at the top of the list for substitute teachers in our area because the kids love him and that he doesn’t mind subbing for Mrs. Hilliard’s 7th grade English class, because we know that it takes guts to be a 7th grade English class substitute teacher.
“We offer Fran Billings because even though her kids tell her it is time to settle down and rest (after all she’s 84), Fran wakes up every morning to be at the downtown YMCA to fold towels and to share stories of how things “used to be,” which makes her younger audience laugh and dream of having amazing stories to share by the time they are Fran’s age.
“We offer Greg, Sylvia, Hector, and Drew because they have committed to pool their Christmas bonuses together and buy water wells for communities who do not have fresh drinking water until (as they say together in unison) ‘everyone has fresh drinking water.'”
And on, and on…
This may not make the best promo video or mass mailer to the neighborhood, but it may be the most faithful representation of a church community. That we are not only committed to our gathering, but also to our scattering. Or, as Rick Warren has said along the way, a church should be evaluated not for its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.