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If you are interested in a short but helpful book to consider this issue, I suggest,

Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate, by J. Clif Christopher

I don't agree with everything in it, but on the whole it offers helpful guidance. It is especially relevant for churches with a substantial portion of people who are not long-time faithful givers because it is a window into how most people view their giving today -- church is one place of many worthy places to give.

At our church, I suggested the deacons read a chapter a month in their meetings. It has helped educate and broaden discussion. The highlights of the discussion have even made it to the full council meeting.

The author's premise is that churches need to highlight the life-changing effect of the gospel that is augmented by their ministry so that Christians can be excited about being a part of that mission.

More relevant to the original question, there is a whole chapter on reasons the pastor should have offering information as well as what migh be done with the information. I'll offer a couple quotes.

"When one is gifted with extraordinary talent, one has the choice of using it for God’s purposes [for Kingdom purposes] or for some other purpose. Pastors need to share with individuals how to use their talents and gifts for the Lord."

"Just as it would be clergy malpractice to not visit someone who was dying and needed prayer, it is also clergy malpractice to ignore a member who is being pulled into hell by the weight of his wallet.... There are not many indicators available to us on what is happening inside one’s heart, but giving is a good one."

In summary, there is a "wealth" of information in giving statments, both about the giver and to some extent, their view of the importance of the ministry. The pastors and leaders of a church who ignore such information do so at their peril -- especially since the generation who unquestionably gives to their local church is shrinking.

While I agree that pastors should have access to offering information for pastoral reasons there are plenty of elder and deacons who will not agree, especially at churches who "don't have a giving problem."

If you are looking for reasons beyond those listed in this article and the comments, a good resource on this topic is, Not Your Parents Offering Plate, by J. Clif Christopher. His follow-up book, Whose Offering Plate Is It?, is also good, but I would recommend reading the first one, first. The second offers further clarification and feedback received following the first book.

I appreciated the article. I think there is a lot that has been lost and/or taught sporadically.

In his book, The Naked Now, Richard Rohr discusses the lost art of seeing how mystics see. Perhaps his biggest argument is that our problem comes from our tendency to dualistic thinking blinding us to broader reality. He writes that in Christianity, "Faith" largely became believing things to be true or false (faith as intellectual assent) instead of giving people concrete practices so they could themselves know how to open up (faith), hold on (hope), and allow an infilling from another source (love.)

That's what came to mind as I read your post and I would recommend Rohr's book for continued reflection on refining your faith, "seeing" better, and more fully experiencing God in the present. Rohr would recommend any of Thomas Merton's early books, like, The Seven Storey Mountain, New Seeds of Contemplation, or Thoughts in Solitude, for more help along similar themes.

Thank you, Verlyn, for your recent posts on church signs. Our church has recently changed its name and is installing a new double-sided sign, with a 2' x 8' back-lit fixed portion (with name and website) on top of a 2' x 8' color LED portion for messaging. We pray fervently that the Lord will use the sign to bring more guests to our worship services and we are preparing for that possibility.

Your book, Your Church Sign, is one tool I can use to be thoughtful and intentional in our messaging.

My questions relate to details of how you are using the digital sign differently from non-digital reader-boards. For example, Do you usually have 3 or 4 or more rotating messages? How many seconds do you leave a message displayed before rotating them? (Our sign is perpendicular to a road with a 35 mph limit.) How many days/weeks until one message is replaced in the rotation by another message? Do you mix the "pun-type" messages with announcements of upcoming special events. Do you put the time/temp on the sign so people know there will "useful" information on the sign at some point? Have you used graphics and do you have a recommended source for graphics? Basically, I'm interested in whatever you have done to which you attribute your stated "increase in attendance." We want to use our new tool as intentionally and as well as possible. We'll trust God for the results.

Perhaps you are planning to address these types of questions in a future blog. If so, great, I'll wait. Thanks for your sharing your experiences in this realm.

From the report, #8, Appointed Mr. Mike Hogeterp, Mr. Mark Charles and Mr. Peter Vander Meulen to the Doctrine of Discovery Task Force mandated by Synod 2012.

First, could someone tell me what page in the "Acts of Synod" contains this synodical mandate?

Second, could someone describe the goals and essence of the task force? If there is a substantial subscription in the "Acts" that will be sufficient, but I could not find a description in the index or other places in the "Acts" I thought to look.

Thank you.

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