Seven Trends in the Offertory in Churches


For most Protestant churches, the offertory is the time of worship where church members make financial gifts to God through the church. It may be combined with special music or announcements, but the central theme is giving to God.

I am seeing seven major trends develop related to this aspect of worship services. The changes have been subtle but noticeable.

  1. More churches are moving the offertory to near the middle of the service, shortly before the preaching of the Word. This development is a change back to a practice that was most common before 1990. This approach has either an implicit or explicit theological belief that the offertory is a central facet of worship, and should be placed prominently in the service.
  2. The second most common practice is to have the offertory at the end of the service. The typical rationale for this practice is more related to the flow of the service. The offertory is still deemed important, but the service has a more continuous flow if it is placed at the end.
  3. Churches that provide the opportunity for online giving see an uptick in overall gifts. Obviously this type of offertory does not take place in a worship service, but it is deemed very important by leaders whose churches offer this option. I am not aware of any churches where online giving has replaced the worship offertory; it is simply another way to give.
  4. Churches that mail offering envelopes to members also see an uptick in overall gifts. I have heard numerous stories from church leaders of the importance of this church practice. One church leader told me his church eliminated the practice, and offerings declined almost 20 percent. The church reinstated the mailing of offering envelopes pretty quickly.
  5. Only a relatively few churches have offering boxes for member donations. Most of these churches do not have an offertory time in the service; members are asked to give as they leave the service.
  6. More churches have some type of testimony or statement about stewardship to accompany the offering. Typically, this statement is about how the funds are used. Members are able to see through videos or testimonies the missional impact of their gifts (See the blog post with Pastor Mike Glenn’s example).
  7. Relatively few churches receive gifts in their small groups or Sunday school classes. This practice was more common prior to 1990, especially in Sunday school based churches.

From my perspective, the most effective churches in stewardship make certain that items 3, 4, and 6 are common practices to accompany the church’s offertory. Let me hear from you about these seven trends, and let me hear what your church does as well.

Posted on February 2, 2015

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
More from Thom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Mark Shelby says on

    I attended a church that did the offering at the end of services. It was really cool. They had baskets under chairs placed at the end of each row. The pastor instructed that now was the time for an offering and guided the end row person to reach under their seat and pass the offering basket down the row. The last person at the other end simply placed the basket at the end of their row. Ushers then came and collected the baskets. It was done in a snap!
    Meanwhile the pastor was giving the typical “church announcements” while all of this was going on. I really found it an excellent use of time management and it didn’t take away from the “flow” of the service for lack of a better term. In fact it actually highlighted the importance of the offering as an integral part of the worship and teaching experience.

  • Among Churches of Christ (Restoration Movement) we take the offering as part of the Lord’s Supper. But – we partake of the Lord’s Supper each Sunday.

  • This is an interesting discussion, and I find that I must be the odd duck. I have led our church to move the offering the the very first thing we do. There were concerns at first like, “people won’t have time to write their checks, our offerings will decrease, etc., but none of these concerns have been the reality of our experience. Rather, our giving has increased, and I believe that the, yes theological, reason behind the move is the deciding factor.

    Over the years I have considered the, “giving gratefully in response to worship” philosophy, and have concluded that while I don’t believe it is necessarily wrong, the better approach is to teach that we “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise.” I believe that our act of thanksgiving includes joyfully returning to God from the blessings He provides, and the best place to do this is as we “enter” the worship service. Ironically, contrary to the most debated post on having a “fellowship time”, this too, is a part of our “Entering His gates with thanksgiving and praise,” and while I do know some who are uncomfortable, almost without exception, the responses we receive from our guests is that we are very welcoming, and most return multiple times. We are growing. Right now our greatest hindrance to growth is utilization of space, which I am resolving currently.

    He is our “Flow”:

    1. General Announcements are projected before and after the service
    2. I go the pulpit and make any critical announcements that need “pastoral” voice and remind the guests of the visitors cards which they can give to me at the end of the service.
    3. I call the congregation to Worship and invite the ushers to come forward as we open our service in Thanksgiving and Praise through the giving of tithes and offerings, to be followed by a time of rejoicing and fellowship.
    4. Immediately following the Offertory, our Worship Leader stands and invites everyone to the time of fellowship, instructing them to return to their seats and join when they hear He and the choir begin singing the first worship song.
    5. We have our worship song service (some would describe it as blended, but there is no specific formula)
    6. Any special music or dramatic presentations
    7. Children’s message
    8. Sermon
    9. Invitation
    10. Closing prayer and pastoral greeting

    The result has been:
    1. greater focus on giving as an act of thanksgiving for salvation and “daily” blessing from God, preparation for worship,
    2. increased giving,
    3. better flow of service,
    4. counters ability to return in time for the message and get out with everyone else,
    5. greater and longer impact of the message and invitation as the closing to the service.

    There were concerns about not giving people “time” to get ready to give, but though teaching, they now understand the need to come prepared to give, and our guests are not asked to give. On occasion we will have someone hand an envelope to me or my wife on their way out, which we simple give to the counters, and it is added later.

    We have not added online giving yet, but we have discussed it. I am not convinced that it is the best way to go yet, but I am interested in any thoughts, pro and con. We already have a very giving congregation, and so it has not seemed necessary.

    I apologize for the length of my response, but I had not seen any responses with this “Theological” perspective, and would value any of your thoughts.

  • Our church sees the offertory as an extension of the invitation. It is a public response and seems to fit that part of the service. It took a couple of years for se in our church to get used to it being at the end of the service, but it also gives the congregation a time to meditate on what has occurred during the past hour before abruptly leaving.

  • I would love some links that people use to set up online giving. My pastor has asked me to look into it and I dont have a clue where to start and what places would be the best.

  • We implemented online giving, but maybe we’re doing it wrong, because it hasn’t increased giving, as nobody is using it to give. I rarely mention it verbally, so that might be it, but 1) it’s integrated with our website, 2) it’s integrated with our YouVersion Live event (which I know several people use at our church), and 3) several members stated that online giving would be helpful to them. Maybe I just need to walk people through how it works?

  • I’m interested to know what service other churches use as a payment service provider. I’m particularly interested in those who administer their own websites, in other words don’t hire it out to a third party.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Thanks, Kelly. I hope some of the readers will respond to you.

    • Joe Mayes says on

      We use Secure Give which gives us a kiosk, online giving, and an app to give. Now, this is outsourcing it out that is a small fee, but we have found it’s totally worth it.

    • Outsourcing online giving is pretty common because of security. You will need to be a pretty big organization if you plan to keep it in house. PCI compliance, SSL certificates, database encryption among other things is a job for a team. Also, outsourcing brings new technologies to your church faster then your team developing each of them. Technologies like mobile web giving, giving app, giving kiosks, and text giving are available right from the beginning. Our church uses They have all these technologies and are constantly updating them and introducing new features for each of these.

    • We have recently switched to because it offers mobile giving, text to give as well as a giving app. Fees were comparable to a previous service we were using that had limited options and was a non-profit itself (CanadaHelps)

      We have see gifts through the service go up, but cannot say whether that has affected our overall giving to trend upwards because of convenience/accessibility.

  • Regarding #1, every church with which I’ve ever been involved – either as a pastor, staff member, or layman – has always taken the offering in the middle of the service. I never really saw the advantage of moving it to the end of the service. I’ve never tried #6, but it sounds like a great idea.

  • Are there statistics available for contributions vs. attendee’s that compare churches that don’t take up an offering at all and those who have an offering box or simply offer online giving?

    Every Christian I speak to has an opinion and the subject is still a point of contention among many. With the availability of online information, the theological arguments for and against are no secret.

    If we built churches that were fully funded (smaller), and only financed ministries that congregations were committed to in advance, would this even be necessary? Rather than conversations about tithing, should we be focused on giving from our abundance? It seems like a more positive psychological approach.

    Anyway, before during or after…I give out of obedience and love for the Lord. I don’t have a dog in the fight, so to speak. I just find the subject of tithing to be an interesting conversation.

    Be Blessed !!

  • I would add to #2 that some churches (like the one I serve) that have the offertory near the end of the service don’t do so because of “flow.” There is theological significance in having tithes and offering given after the sermon as a response in worship.

    In fact, we recently changed the offering from before the sermon (as you have in #1) because the theological significance wasn’t nearly as great as having it after the sermon.

    • I agree with Jordan’s point, I have always wondered if having the offering at the end wasn’t a good idea, both from flow as well as the excellent point about response to the message.

      As a stewardship and capital campaign consultant, I LOVE the presenting of testimonies as part of the offering time. Maybe not each week,(that’s hard to maintain), but mixed in with weeks where there is a short exposition about giving. I have always been of the opinion that playing some christian muzak during the offering was not the best use of the time.

      As I once wrote in one of my articles, “The true measure of a church is found in the testimonies of changed lives.” These testimonies allow the church to show life transformation by the power of God through the efforts of the local church. This also gives the pastor the ability to “connect the dots” to help connect faithful stewardship with missional results! Great stuff!!!!!!!!

      • I was actually writing on this the other days as it could apply to worship music ministry, but it works here add well. I think we could all use to be a little more grounded and intentional when it comes to acts of worship, whatever form it may take. It can be so easy to fall into mechanical habits, that detract from true worship, being reminded of how God is active within the congregation is a powerful tool.

      • Thom Rainer says on

        I totally agree, Dallas.

    • Just a Thought says on

      It doesn’t make much difference to me where the offering falls, but my dad always complained about end of service offerings making him feel like he was tipping the pastor.

      • Chaplain Crow says on

        I’ve had the same feelings. Human nature and perceptions cannot be ignored that some may see the offering after the sermon as a reflection of ‘how much the sermon was liked’ or how well they like the pastor.

        I would think the move towards having the offering in the middle or before sermon was more to negate this perception than purely for worship flow or style.

  • Don jMatthews says on

    The key is helping the people understand that giving is an act of worship. Even though I give a tithe to the church I also give something each time the offering is given because it is part of the worship.

1 2