What would your ushers do if they picked up the offering plates and found them stuck together?
This actually happened when I was pastor of First Baptist Church in Poplarville, Miss.
Our custodian had shined the offering plates by placing each plate on top of the other, putting cleaning solution on them, and pressing down hard as he shined them. Then he left them on the altar in front of the pulpit to dry, ready for Sunday.
The way the ushers took up the offering was to walk to the altar during a song. When the song ended, the ushers would pick up the two stacks of plates, and distribute them to the other ushers, while someone prayed. After the prayer ended, they would be ready to take up the offering.
This particular Sunday, we were having the news anchor of the Biloxi ABC-TV affiliate give her Christian testimony in the service. Church was packed; it was definitely a good day to pass the offering plate!
The only problem was that when they picked up the two stacks of offering plates, they didn’t come unstacked! Apparently, the cleaning solution had dried and stuck the plates together. Fortunately, the usher on the end saw what was going on, and launched into a long prayer. As he prayed, two ushers with the plates moved close together to hide what was going on, and reached for their pocket knives. They dug and scraped and pulled as the other usher prayed. Every once in a while, the one praying would open his eyes and glance over at the two with the offering plates, and then keep on praying. I think he was praying on two levels. Out loud he was asking God to bless the offering for His glory; silently he was praying that they would just be able to take up the offering!
Finally, his prayers were answered, and the two ushers got the plates loose. When they did, the praying usher abruptly stopped, and they took up the offering.
Sometimes things get stuck in church and our spiritual lives. We can get stuck in a rut, doing the same old things the same old way and getting the same old results. If you want to grow spiritually, you cannot stay in the same place all the time. Get unstuck. Move up to the next level. If you’re not reading the Bible, start a simple plan such as a chapter a day. If you’re not praying, set aside a time in the morning or evening to pray. If you don’t know how to pray, use the prayers of the Bible like the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms. If you’re not serving, ask your pastor how you can help your church. And if you’re stuck giving the same dollar a week in the offering plate, raise your level of commitment. The Bible says, “Since you excel in so many ways ... I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7, NLT).
(Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read this column each Friday in the Herald. Visit my blog at www.bobrogers.me.)