Beware the Offering Plate

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I‘ve have been fortunate to make my living with my art as a ministry for over 40 years. Much of that “living” comes through the generosity of others via the offering plate that is passed after a performance at a church. The offering plate has been my friend, and has greatly blessed me and my ministry over the years.

But not everything I receive in an offering plate is money. I have also received Starbucks gift cards, lottery tickets, drawings from children, candy and gum, and of course pocket lint. Sometimes all poured into in a brown paper bag and handed to me as I walk out the door.

Something else that occasionally shows up in the offering plate is notes of encouragement. People will often write a “thank-you” and other words of appreciation on a scrap of paper and these are treasures to be sure!

And then there are the critiques…not as often as the notes of appreciation, but they show up from time to time. I have one of these tacked to a bulletin board in my office. It serves to remind me that just because they call it a “love offering” doesn’t guarantee that everything in the plate comes with “love.”

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Would love to laugh—you are not that funny—But God loves you.”

This note was after a performance of a piece that is billed as a comedy. If there is one thing I have learned by performing comedy, it’s that it is subjective. What one audience might find hysterical can be totally lost on another audience. There is nothing worse than doing comedy when nobody’s laughing. If I didn’t have a history of this performance being well received by hundreds of other audiences, I might have been offended at the note. Actually, it just made me laugh. But I do look at it from time to time and allow it to serve as a reminder that you can’t please everybody all the time and to not take myself too seriously.

It also makes me wonder just how much of this the average pastor must have to put up with on a regular basis. I can just imagine the pastor coming into the office on a Monday morning to a stack of “reviews” on his desk, all from the offering plate. Maybe it’s time to reassess the purpose of the plate.

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On a side note, as our society becomes more cashless, when people pay with their credit cards and smartphones, we may soon see the offering plate become obsolete. In one church I was in recently there was a kiosk at the back of the church for collecting offerings with credit cards.

So if I was at your church recently and you didn’t have your wallet and you would like to leave me a love offering, you can do so here: cash.me/donatemip. (I bet there a few less “surprises” in the offering plate when done this way!)

And if you want to leave me a note or even a critique, I will accept them in the comments below! (I reserve the right to delete the critiques!)

 

4 thoughts on “Beware the Offering Plate

  1. Eric Miller says:

    Chuck Neighbors, you are awesome!!!! I love you. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Ron Heffield says:

    Does that note resemble your wife’s handwriting? J/K 😉

    After 40 years in the pastorate I’ve seen plenty of crazy comments. The craziest are the anonymous complainers. I’ve made it clear that anonymous notes go right into the trash can! Love to be able to wipe from memory the snippy comments on them, but at least the paper copy is gone!

    Blessings on you, brother!

    Pastor Ron, Orlando

    Reply
  3. Catherine says:

    On the bright side, they did recognize that you have a nice voice. And, personally, I think your presentation and material are fabulous. Glad your sense of humor is well-developed so you could laugh it off. And I agree with the previous commenter, anonymous notes should just go in the trash.

    Blessings to you as you continue in your ministry…with a smile and a nice voice!

    Reply
  4. Judy says:

    Good grief! I can’t believe someone gave you that note. Blessings on you for rolling with the punches. A good reminder that we as performers are letting ourselves be vulnerable, and also that God is our ultimate audience.

    Onward!

    Reply

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