For the past five years or so, I’ve been the board treasurer at our church. One of the duties covered by that office is counting the tithes or donations after the weekly church service.
I know, I know–the idea of tithing 10% of your income to the church can be controversial. In fact, Jon has written about the challenges he faces since he direct deposits his tithe every week.
But what you might not know about the weekly tithe is that the practice of passing the offering plate, bucket, or double-handled velour satchel (the latter of which resembles a magician’s prop, circa Doug Henning 1970s), sometimes results in non-traditional giving.
Here are six things you might want to avoid “donating” when possible.
1. Origami Folded Cash or Checks
While the ancient art of Chinese paper-folding is a wonderful diversion at children’s parties, it sucks trying to reverse engineer the back folds on checks and Benjamins folded up as tiny unicorns or pelicans. Please reserve and redirect your Avatar paper-bending skills for when you volunteer for childcare duty.
2. Tony “Scarface” Montana coke-snorting-money straws
During worship, you might be tempted to see how tightly you can roll a 10 spot into a little “snow-blowing” cylinder, but please don’t. It’s already tough enough making cash deposits on behalf of a church when 80% of the paper money in the U.S. has traces of cocaine. Let’s not add further realism to the drama.
3. Coupons From the Sunday Circulars
While the gesture of tossing in a few double-value coupons for Hamburger Helper might seem like a good idea, it’s really not. I don’t think the spirit of tithing covers the clipped discounts on VO5 Hot Oil Treatments or Scrubbing Bubbles cleanser. When standing before the Great White throne of judgment, it’ll be tough defending the practice of tithing 10% of your paper recyclables to the church.
I understand the tough economy of late, and I think God does as well. While I don’t want to speak on behalf of the Big Guy, I don’t think you need to scribble an “I Owe You” on the sermon notes for $20 if you’re short on cash that week. God understands–even if your bookie or neighborhood loan shark doesn’t.
5. Monopoly Properties or Trivial Pursuit Cards
Not sure if these were accidental or intentional. Perhaps the anonymous parishioner thought they might playfully liven up the sometimes tedious offering-count process. If you want to tithe games, at least offer a complete game (not 10% of a game) that the counters can play using the tithe bucket or bag such as Yahtzee or Liar’s Dice (Father pre-forgive me for breaking the 9th Commandment).
6. The Little Plastic Communion Cups
Our church takes communion on the first Sunday of every month. During the actual service, the offering follows immediately after communion. Every few months or so, we’ll get an offering bag that’s got a couple of tiny, drippy communion cups with bills drenched in grape juice. Perhaps some congregants confuse the offertory with the church’s waste management practices? I don’t know, but just as a reminder the velour bag with black cherry handles and brass inlays is not a communal, in-service refuse pickup.
Are there any other odd things you’ve seen placed in an offering plate, bucket or bag?
(For more great writing from Tor, you can check out his blog here.)