(I apologize in advance if this question isn't appropriate for Christianity S.E. .... this seems to be a trending problem. With that said, I believe the ideas of the question are appropriate and I invite anyone that thinks this question is inappropriate to edit it so it's rephrased more appropriately).

From my experience, many visitors at churches feel that they need to give money and most churches (not all) do this by passing a collection plate of some sort, this method seems to even embarrass or coerce visitors into donating to the church. I feel that the people that should give their money are regular visitors that genuinely want to help the church (regardless if they are believers or not) and members. The reason I think this post is important is because I kind of find it strange when attendance balloons two days out of the year, as does the collection; plus, I think it is discouraging for the average new visitor. Specifically, I am looking for scripture that will support or refute the claim that the method by which most churches collect money is un-Biblical at worst and awkward at best.

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    I was serving as a Missionary and was visiting a Church that I was not a member of. They passed the collection plate around and everyone watched as it went around the room. I remember that awkward feeling like it was yesterday. I put some money in the plate. Not because I wanted to. It was because of that awkwardness.
    – Nelson
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 7:19
  • would you please pick a denominations perspective so that you don't have to be answered from general christianity but instead have an accurate example from the branch you belong to?
    – user4060
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 9:20
  • I don't see why that matters, it seems like something that doesn't differentiate denominations... but lets go with Presbyterian and Baptist.
    – Squirtle
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 21:19
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    Squirtle don't worry about a denominational scope for this. The major differences in practice fall cross-wise to denominational lines so that isn't really helpful (unless you were actually researching a denomination). It's a broad question and I think you need an answer that identifies the breakdown in methods. Sorry you haven't gotten that yet, but good answers take time so be patient.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 23:06
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    @Caleb Well, cool, I don't see any reason why a question like this should have to specify a denomination. But pretty routinely when there are questions like this, one of the Overlords says that it must specify "according to the teachings of a specific denomination". Perhaps you could clarify when such a narrowing is required and when it is not.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 5:34

4 Answers 4


There is no New Testament directive as to the means of collecting gifts , monetary or otherwise. The question is whether a means of collecting gifts fosters the Biblically directed attitude of giving.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

(Note that this is directed toward the motive of giving. If you are giving for human praise, that's all you get. However if you give because it is the right thing to do, you have further reward, even if somebody does see you do it. After all Jesus praised the widow who gave at the Temple in the sight of many).

Personally, I think the current form of collecting offering is for practical fund raising purposes only.

  • it seems that this is not an appropriate answer to my particular question. I didn't ask a general question about tithing but a very specific one.
    – Squirtle
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 22:18

It's a tradition in many churches to pass an offering plate. Prior to the advent of direct deposit and such, it's how people give to their church. And by passing something around, definitely, it encourages giving more than just putting a sack in the back or something.

I'm not sure how this places different expectations on visitors than any other aspect of that church. Obviously since you're in a group setting, depending on your personal strength of character you're going to feel 'peer pressure' to sing a hymn, take part in communion, kneel to pray, respond to a call, move to Ghana to become a missionary per the sermon today, etc. No one looks down on a visitor for not giving money at the offering, so perceived 'coercion' is frankly more of a personal hangup than a real thing.

I have a hard time envisioning fixes to this. Don't pass the plate to designated "visitor rows?" That has three negative impacts I can think of in 10 seconds.

You are never required to give at offering, and as a visitor you are totally not expected to. You are, of course, welcome to, and many folks who are "twice a year churchgoers" like to take that as their opportunity to give to the church's mission without getting bound up in any further paperwork/pastor visits.


It seems to me that the aspect of embarrassment or coercion deplored in this question has decreased in recent years and is likely to decrease further in the near future, not for a religious reason but for a technological one. Many (probably most) banks in the U.S. (and probably in other countries too) make it easy to set up regular payments, and those can include payments to churches. Knowing this, if I see people put nothing in the collection basket, I cannot reasonably assume that they are not giving to the church; it's entirely possible that they've set up automatic payments rather than writing checks or remembering to bring cash.

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    There's also the possibility the person receives bi-weekly or monthly paychecks; many people give when the paycheck comes rather than every week.
    – Ryan Frame
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 4:08
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    About a year ago I switched from putting a check in the offering plate whenever I got paid to making electronic payments through my bank. And when I did this, the thought flashed through my head, "But if anyone is watching me, will they think I've quit giving to the church?" But then I realized, So what? I am not giving to impress the person sitting next to me, but to support the work of God. Hopefully, anyway.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 5:43
  • I'd downvote you if I had enough points. Did you even read the question!!!!!!!! WHY WOULD A VISITOR HAVE A DIRECT DEPOSIT SET UP!!!!!!! You got 6pts for this answer? As soon as I can downvote this.... I will
    – Squirtle
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 15:14
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    @Squirtle Did you read my answer? It's not about visitors having a direct deposit set up. It's about regular members having direct deposit set up, so that a visitor who puts nothing in the basket looks just like a regular member with direct deposit and should not feel embarrassed. Admittedly, that won't work in very small churches where people know all the regular members, but in most congregations that won't be the case. Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 15:47

From an LDS perspective the gathering of offerings should not be a public event where we flaunt our generosity to those who are in attendance. Our Christ like desires should be the reason we donate to his Church, not because we feel awkward if we don't or we do it to receive the praise of men. We are asked to tithe 10% of our increase. Our tithes are received in private by way of secret envelop handed directly to the Bishop or one of his councillors. We never pass collection plates around for donations. Visitors to our church are never asked to pay tithing. Excommunicated members are not permitted to pay tithing as well. We hold our tithes to the lord as sacred.

Matt 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

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    This doesn't explain the broader context of extant Christianity. What you think is right/true isn't relevant on this site so much as explaining existing practices and teachings. It this case there is going to be a lot of explaining to do to cover all the basis for the various ways churches handle offering collection.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 8:01
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    @Caleb yes it accurately reflects his churches beliefs. If memory serves correct he need only tell which church he belongs too that takes private offerings.
    – user4060
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 8:17
  • @caseyr547 That is incorrect. You can't just answer form any one position. If a question like this is posed against all of Christianity answers must attempt to represent all of Christianity, which in this case is going to take a serious overview and breakdown of some different methods and who employs them. I didn't close this question because I think its possible to do, but that is not an invitation to throw up a bunch of answers that one person or group thinks is true. That's just not how this site works.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 8:52
  • @caseyr547 If you have any concerns or questions about either my actions as a moderator or this sites general guidelines, the proper venue for that is the Christianity Meta site. You may freely post a question there raising whatever concerns you wish. In the mean time, all comments along those lines will continue to be removed from the main site as they are out of place here.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 9:07
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    I actually started an answer already but with work and other issues I havn't had time to finish it. Unfortunately this site tends to attract a lot of half baked stuff, but there are a few gems too if you are patient. I don't know if my answer will be one of those but I'll try to make it decent.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 15:24

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