What happened to the church offering envelope concept my home church, the FBC of Grenada, MS, used when I was boy? It functioned as much more than a means by which I could give my weekly tithe. It also functioned as a weekly incentive, motivator, reminder and measure of progress and accomplishment in my spiritual maturity.
While recently perusing through the KJV of the Bible my parents gave me, and I used as a boy, I discovered one of those blank envelopes I had stuck in that Bible. It was dated November 1, 1959. In addition to a space for the amount of my offering, there were five additional spaces and seven boxes for me to record and to mark that gave an accounting of how I well I had fulfilled the church’s expectations of me that week.
The five boxes were used to record the total number of contacts I had made that week by telephone, personal visit, phone call, a letter or card. The seven boxes were used to record my total weekly grade on a scale of 10% to 100% in six important disciplines. The disciplines and the percentage assigned to each were: being present for Sunday School (20%); being on time (10%); having your Bible (10%); bringing an offering (10%); studying your lesson (30%); and staying for preaching (20%); the seventh box was for the combined total of the other six with a potential perfect grade of 100%.
I don’t remember when the offering envelope concept changed from this broader purpose to being just a means by which to give an offering. But, I wish it had never changed because I believe the byproduct of it resulted in more mature and engaged disciples than today’s concept.
Can you believe it? In 1959 all age groups were expected not only to be present for Sunday School and worship, but also expected to be on time, to be prepared, to bring an offering and to invite others to do the same. And, we were expected to grade ourselves each week on an honor system to demonstrate how well we fulfilled the expectations of a maturing Christian. The church actually kept a record of each person’s weekly grades and provided periodic reports or each person’s progress.
Let’s bring back the church envelope concept of discipleship accountability used in 1959!
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