As we approach our God in worship, we do not come empty-handed. Our custom is to have the offering box in the back, near the entrance, where the offerings are placed as we come into church in order to worship God. This is, incidentally, the same set-up that the Temple in Jerusalem had. It is not part of our service to pass the plate during worship, but rather to encourage tithes, offerings, and gifts to be offered individually at the entrance. We then offer them corporately, as a body, as the offering box is brought down right before communion and placed on the Table here.
You may have noticed that this is what we do. My purpose here is to reassure you that we are doing it this way on purpose. We do not want to collect the offering in any way that appears to be “putting the arm on” you. God loves a cheerful giver, Scripture says, and we believe that this is a transaction best left between you and God. At the same time, we do not believe that financial support for kingdom work is somehow tawdry, and so we present the entire corporate offering to God as an essential part of our worship service. Your money, placed on this Table in the right Spirit, is just as holy as the bread and wine.
We want to guard against two errors, both of which are sadly common in the church. One is where the congregation is pumped for money, as though God were about to go broke. The other error is that of thinking that we can avoid going broke when we have refused to acknowledge God with the first fruits of our labors. Look around at the fiscal condition of our society for the indications of which error we are generally guilty of.
So think of it this way. If you are like the shepherds, then bring nothing but praise. But if you are like the wise men, then bring your tangible praise.