The Offering Plate

Did you know that "passing the offering plate” was unheard of in American worship services before the late 19th century? Since American colonial churches were expected to serve the common good, they were funded by public taxes and fees. But in the years following the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, along with many pastors and church leaders, began to speak out against the religious establishment benefiting from poll taxes.

When Massachusetts put an end to its religious tax in 1833, it forever changed the landscape of the way American churches funded themselves. Local congregations also looked to the Bible for principles of voluntary giving, calling attention to passages like Malachi 3:10 in “bringing tithes and offerings into the storehouse” as an act of worship.

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