I Hate This Part Of the Service: How to Improve Your Offering Introductions
Pastor Bob smiled awkwardly at his people. “All right, folk! It’s time for the offering. So, let’s all give the kind of money that folds instead of jingles.”
Polite smiles appeared across the congregation at Pastor Bob’s slight attempt at humor. Mistaking their facial expressions for complete agreement, he continued. “While our ushers are preparing to collect, let’s pray.”
While Pastor Bob is praying, thanking God for “both the gift and the giver,” inwardly he was thinking, “I hate this part of the service.”
Pastor Bob may not aware that many of his congregation members also cringe at his offering humor and wonder why they should give after his lame appeal for funds. And while he’s inwardly praying for God to multiple the meager giving of those in the seats, his people are ironically thinking, “I hate this part of the service.”
Every weekend, pastors around the world ask their people to give to the Lord through their church. Often, those times are awkward for everyone involved. The pastor comes across, to both the congregation and himself, as a slick car salesman instead of a holy man of God. As a result, the people fumble with their phones as he fumbles with his words.
But what if it could be different? What if the offering introduction could become an engaging, vision-casting, worshipful part of the service?
Realistically, in many (if not most) churches, the offering introduction is terrible. And there’s a simple explanation. In churches around the planet, pastors and worship leaders spend hours and hours preparing their sermons, worship music and illustrations. Those same well meaning leaders spend minutes and minutes (if not seconds and seconds) preparing their offering introduction. Honestly, most leaders who introduce the offering simply wing it with no preparation at all.
That’s why it’s so terrible.
Three years ago, the pastors on staff where I serve set out to make it better. We decided to be more intentional about what we said before the offering. We decided to stop shooting from the hip.
Here are a few lessons we’ve learned:
- It works best if we script out the offering introduction from start to finish. In other words, we plan ahead for everything that is said.
- We attempt to tie some of the offering introductions to vision. We try to help people understand how people’s lives will be impacted because of their giving.
- We often turn the offering introduction into a story. Whether it’s personal or biblical, it often helps to present it in story form, which most often increases engagement.
- We often try to connect the offering introduction to a holiday or current event. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, the Superbowl, or the Sunday after a natural disaster, use what people are thinking about anyway.
- Sometimes, we use an object lesson for the offering introduction. Unique physical objects really capture people’s attention because they’re different.
- As often as possible, we try to illustrate the purpose of giving with video testimonies from missionaries helped supported financially by the church.
- Whenever possible, we frame the offering introduction with pictures. A picture really can be worth a thousand words. Sometimes, if presented well, they can also be worth thousands of dollars.
Here’s an example of a good offering introduction:
We’re about to collect our offering. While our ushers are preparing to collect, I’d like to show you a picture of wind farm. (Show picture on screen)
Wind farms like these now produce almost 3% of the world’s energy usage. Many of you may have seen farms like these in your travels.
Have you ever wondered how these windmills are able to capture the wind’s energy? Here’s a brief explanation: A wind turbine blade works like an airplane wing. When air passes around both sides of the uniquely shaped blade, the uneven pressure causes it to spin. Those blades are attached to a shaft, which turns about 18 revolutions per minute, which doesn’t seem like much at first. However, the shaft is connected to a series of gears, which increases the movement to about 1800 revolutions per minute. At that speed, a generator can produce a lot of electricity as long as the wind is consistent.
You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with the offering?” I’m glad you asked. Sometimes people think the small amount of money they give doesn’t matter. Like the large shaft that only turns 18 times a minute, they think their gift is not making much of a difference. Fortunately, God blesses the offerings given by individuals and allows the church to connect it with the gifts of others, multiplying it in various ways producing amazing results.
The secret is faithful and consistent giving.
This type of offering introduction won’t work in every context, but it will work perfectly in others. Some pastors love to write their own “giving talks” while others find them online. The secret is finding the style(s) that works best in your respective church and spending the necessary time perfecting it in both content and delivery.
If you have other suggestions about how to improve offering introductions, please share in the comments section.
So what about Pastor Bob?
Because it concerns money, some of his people may always feel uncomfortable during the offering (especially those who never give). But if he spends time developing his offering introduction, it’s possible that both Pastor Bob and his congregation may finally stop hating that part of the service.