Taking the collection by passing an offering basket during the worship service



In almost every place of worship, either a short time after the worship service has started or just before it ends, the collection is taken. In some places of worship the collection is taken through a little offering-basket while in some others through an offering-plate.

This way of collecting the offerings of the saints is not confirmed by any passage of the Scripture, therefore I exhort you not to use it in order to collect the money which is needed for the work of God. Actually, this way of collecting offerings looks like a form of begging, and it must be said that so far it has offended not a few of the unbelievers who have come to the place of worship in order to hear the Gospel. ‘They ask for money just like the Roman Catholic priests!’, some say; while others say: ‘Entry is not really free because once you are inside the place of worship they put the offering-basket before your nose because they want to be paid’. However, let me show you from the Scripture the right way to collect the offerings of the saints.

When God commanded the Israelites to make Him a sanctuary, He said to Moses: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:1-8). After Moses received that order, he “spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD ….” (Exodus 35:4-5). And the Israelites obeyed, as it is written: “And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. …. The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses” (Exodus 35:20-21,29). And bear in mind that the Israelites brought much more than what was needed, they brought so many things that Moses had to command the people of Israel not to bring any more offerings, as it is written: “And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much” (Exodus 36:6-7).

When king Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites according to their divisions, each man according to his service, “he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD. And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps” (2 Chronicles 31:4-6). I have cited this incident not to uphold tithing under grace, which is not mandatory, but just to show you from the Scriptures the right way to collect offerings from believers.

It is written that in Jerusalem, after the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early disciples, “as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet ….” (Acts 4:34-35).

Concerning the collection for the poor among the saints, Paul said to the Corinthians: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). As far as these words are concerned, which are quoted by some to confirm that it is right to pass an offering basket in the place of worship, I want to point out that the offering had to be set aside by the saints at their houses (and when the apostles would come they would take their offering) and it was not to be put inside an offering basket which was passed among the saints during the worship service in the place of worship.

As you can see, no one of the above mentioned passages shows that an offering basket or a drum or any other container was passed out among those who were called to give for God’s work.

In case all these passages of the Scriptures are not enough to make you understand that it is unscriptural to pass out the offering basket among the saints or among the unbelievers after the preaching of the Gospel, I remind you brothers of the way our Lord Jesus acted. He went through every city and village, preaching the Good news of the Kingdom of God and teaching and casting out demons and healing the sick, but He never asked people for money, after or before preaching, by commanding His disciples to pass out an offering-basket among the people (who sometimes were thousands) who gathered together to hear the Word of God from Him. Did people make offerings to Him? Of course, they did, for many women provided for Him from their substance (Luke 8:1-3), and one of His disciples, namely Judas, kept the money bag (John 12:6) into which was put the money given to Him by His disciples. And the apostles also acted like Jesus, for they never passed out an offering basket among those who came to them (whether they were believers or not) to hear the Word of God. Read carefully the book of the Acts of the apostles and all the epistles and you will find not even a single passage which confirms somehow that it is lawful to pass out an offering basket in the place of worship or when Gospel meetings are held under a tent. He who has ears, let him hear.

Why is to pass out an offering basket in the place of worship (which can be the house of a brother) wrong?

● Because thus some are ‘forced’ to give money, and according to the Scripture a believer must not give under compulsion but willingly and joyfully, as Paul says: “not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 – NKJV), and it is not right to force anyone to give, otherwise the offering is no longer made willingly but grudgingly, and if there is something which is disgusting and annoying is to see those who are covetous give to be seen (therefore, they give grudgingly) by those who give willingly, and therefore their giving is an act of hypocrisy. Let them keep their money in their wallet, lest we hear them complaining outside the place of worship as if they gave their money to support the work of a man or a useless work and not the work of God which is useful to men.

● Because by passing out the offering basket you cannot test the love of believers, that is you say, you can’t see if they really love the work of God. You could always think that some believers make offerings only because they don’t want others to see that they don’t make any offering.

● Because it looks like a form of begging; it looks like the way of begging of those who play a flute or a violin or an accordion in the underground railway, who, after playing their instrument for several minutes, pass out an offering basket to collect alms.

● Because it is as if the pastor after the sermon says: ‘I preached, didn’t I? Now, then, you must pay me for it!’. In other words, the preaching looks like the sale of a product rather than a service offered unselfishly to men.

● Because there might be some unbelievers among the saints, who would be offended by seeing an offering basket passing before them, and that’s what actually happens.

What is then the right way to collect the offerings of the saints? Here it is: an offering-box should be put in a corner of the place of worship and it must be said to the saints that those who are willing to make an offering for the work of God must put their offering into that box. Perhaps some will say: ‘If we do this, many brethren will forget to give!’ I don’t think so, because the Holy Spirit will remind them of the commandment of Jesus according to which we must give. Did not Jesus say: “He [the Holy Spirit] will …. bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26 – NKJV)? Do you think that the Holy Spirit reminds the saints that they must go to the place of worship but He does not remind them that they must give to support the work of God?