Posted by: jacobgillard | June 25, 2009

Economically Ailing American Congregations Might Consider Adopting African Offering Protocol

Look closely at this photo.

African Offering

African Offering

Do you see the crumpled cash hiding in the pile of fruit?  Many small or remote villages still utilize a barter economy so during the offering people will give what they have: avacados, mangos, corn, etc.  After worship the more “perishable” offerings (all our offerings are perishable, aren’t they?) will be sold and the proceeds placed in the church treasury.  (Somehow the pastor usually knows who has the means to buy the items–go figure!)  It’s a great system because rich and and poor can worship side-by-side and both genuinely participate in the offering.

It’s a system not entirely unknown in America…if my home congregation isn’t atypical, that is.  I remember the family with the LP gas business would keep the tank topped up in the church kitchen.  Men would deliver and stack several cords of firewood at the pastor’s house each fall.  Maybe your congregation receives donations “in-kind” and then auctions them off.

If people don’t have hard cash to put in the plate during a recession, why don’t you take a hint from your brethren in Africa?  There’s no reason you can’t create, faciliate, champion, and popularize mechanisms so your people can still give what they have with joy–especially since it’s not a totally foreign concept in America.

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