Pass The Plate or Box In The Back

I don’t care if it’s Joel Osteen’s mega church or the 20 member church in the country, without money the lights in the church don’t stay on and the bills don’t get paid. Far more importantly, without some sort of funding coming in there is absolutely no way a local church can sustain ministry to its members or the community.

So how does that money get collected? That’s the point of this article.

I’ll share the two primary ways it’s done at the average Sunday gathering and then tell you where we’ve landed at New City Church.  Of course, there are more than just two methods used in our technological age, but these two are the ones best visibly observed, and for that reason, are worth addressing.

Pass The Plate

At some point during the service, (usually incorporated during the singing time) some folks go to the front of the church, grab a fancy looking plate, or sometimes a basket or bowl from a table and in organized fashion pass that plate up and down the rows of people. When the plate passes in front of a person they have the option of placing an offering  in the basket, or not. After this process is completed some trusted individuals would bring the collection to an agreed upon location to process the funds. What happens after that I’m not privy to, other than in the church I pastor. But typically there’s no fishy business going on.

Box in The Back

With this system there’s generally not a specified time to give, as with the plate method, but instead, people are made aware of the location of the box and then invited, on their own time, to place their offering in the box. I’ve seen anything from fancy ornate wooden boxes to industrial and large metal boxes to smaller suggestion boxes re-purposed for collecting funds.  It’s usually situated in a common area of the Church or at an entrance point so as to make it convenient for members or guests to walk by with their gift and place it in. After the service, a team collects the funds for processing. And again, what each church does after this point is not something I can accurately tell, having not been there.

Giving is Biblical

In both of these scenarios there is nothing innately wrong or sinful. A local church is free to choose one method over the other, and even add several options to give electronically or through church apps or text-to-give. But no matter the case it’s important to see that this part of a local church’s operations is one that can and should bring glory to God.

Financial giving is Biblical. It’s been a regular part of worship for God’s people since the days of the tabernacle in the Old Testament. God’s people would willingly give of their own resources out of hearts of worship and thanksgiving so that that needs could be met, both within the gathering spaces and in the lives of families and communities in need. God instructs leaders to administer those funds in such a way that is upright and would advance His cause in the world

Why We Put a Box in the Back

Imagine being a non-believer or new visitor in our post-Christian culture and money a plate passes in front of you. You know what’s supposed to happen, but you’re just not comfortable. What if you have no money? Where does the money even go? (that’s for another blog) If you don’t put anything, is someone going to think poorly of you?

Even if that’s not at all the attitude of the church or its leaders, the fact that it’s going on in the visitors head is a reality to them and is battle enough.

We put a box in the back of the room on a resource table with several good and free books for the taking. It’s a small metal box with a simple paper sign on the front that says, GIVING. Our wording was intentional too, knowing that tithe or offering is perhaps a little more intimidating. Our pre-service Pro Presenter presentation includes instructions on how to give at New City Church and occasionally I’ll mention something from the pulpit.

Truth be told, 90% of the funds that come in to the church come through our online platform or text-to-give, from members who share our vision and mission and want to be a part of it. But as we grow, and as more visitors come, we believe this is what God would have us do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments on what you and your leadership do, and why you’ve come to that decision. Maybe you can share a story of your experience as a new or non-believer going to a church that does either of these methods.

Our way is not THE right way. It’s just one way and those are our reasons. Praise God for the liberty to make these choices.

May we do it to His honor and glory!



2 responses to “Pass The Plate or Box In The Back”

  1. Thank you for your article. I am leading our church away from passing the plate, to the box in the back of the church. I like what you say about Giving vs. Offering & Tithe.


    1. Joel Littlefield Avatar
      Joel Littlefield

      Hey Frank, thanks for checking out my blog back in May! Sorry that I’m just now responding. How has the transition gone from passing the plate as you mentioned above?


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