My friend, who is a Jehovah’s Witness, once asked if Southern Baptists used offering baskets with mesh bottoms. He’d heard they did that because then if you tried to tithe with change, it would fall out and loudly proclaim you as a cheapskate. That would hopefully guilt you into giving paper money next week.
I told him it wasn’t true and that I hated that his side got Prince.
The offering can be a funny thing though and I haven’t written about it often. But recently I experienced something that demanded a post. I actually witnessed someone who waited until the offering basket got to them before they started writing their check. They actually placed the offering basket in their lap and then proceeded to refinance their house. Or at least it felt that long, as they carefully filled out the check, completely traffic jamming the entire row. The poor usher just stood there waiting for the hand off, with a look of disappointment on her face like a contestant on the Bachelor waiting for the engagement to be inevitably called off in some sort of awkward reverse rose ceremony.
The whole thing was a mess and left me wishing I could have told that plucky gentlemen four things:
1. The offering basket is like a shark, it can’t stop moving.
Seriously, the offering basket is designed to be in constant motion. It’s like one of those crazy bikes from Tron, it has to be moving at all times. When I saw you stop it and then balance it on your thigh as if you were at home doing whatever it is that people at home do with baskets, I almost screamed like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes, “Noooo, we finally did it. You maniacs, you blew it all up.” That wouldn’t have made complete sense but that’s the only scream statement I have on tap ready to go in a pinch.
2. You almost convinced the lady next to me to not tithe.
When you stopped the basket, the lady next to me almost put her check back in her purse. She looked at me with this, “Really dude, really?” look and then I saw shoes and expensive coffee beverages dance across her eyes. When it comes to the offering basket, with great power comes great responsibility. Your actions impact others.
3. You can’t be surprised
I’ve got nothing against people giving via check, by why wait until the basket is at you? I am always surprised when people act surprised when the offering basket comes around. It’s come around at the exact same place in the sermon for roughly ever. It’s not like the pastor is hiding it in the service like an Easter Egg on a DVD. “Today, let’s do it in between songs, they’ll never see it coming.” If you were a guest I could understand or a first time visitor, but you weren’t. Be ready. Game face. Here we go!
4. You seem like a mail kind of guy.
Watching you balance your checkbook right there on the aisle, I got the impression you were more of a mail in your offering kind of guy. Like maybe you want to write a check while relaxing with a chamomile tea, some George Winston piano music in the background and a Heart & Home calendar in front of you while a Cranberry Chutney Yankee Candle burns softly.
I didn’t get to say any of these four things, mostly because my wife has this whole, “prevent Jon from being a jerk in public” thing she likes to do. But I think even she got a little curious when the guy handed the basket the opposite way it was traveling to his wife so that she could write a separate check.
I almost snatched it like Kanye at the VMA’s and said, “Yo check writer I’m happy for you & I’mma let you finish, but direct deposit was the best way to tithe last year!