A View from the Pew: Counting All the Blessings

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Counting the money received in the offering each week is one of the myriad tasks of church life that falls into the “thankless job” category.

You may not even know who does it at your church. It’s a behind-the-scenes job well suited for the kind of church member who avoids the spotlight and prefers to do their “good deeds in secret” (Matt 6:4).

If you’re like most church folks, once you drop that check or envelope in the plate, you don’t give it another thought. That was certainly my experience until the Sunday when one of the counters mentioned with a chuckle that my boys had evidently taken up origami. Unbeknownst to me and my wife, they were folding the offering cash into intricate and difficult to flatten out shapes before stuffing it into the envelope. Oooops. Sorry about that.

In addition to a good sense of humor, money counters in most churches possess a common set of qualities and would definitely not spark Jesus to overturn their tables with a whip.

Here are the five qualities the best church money counters possess:

1. They are trustworthy. You’ve probably had firsthand experience or at least heard of someone who was helping themselves to the treasury. First and foremost, your money counters must be trustworthy. This may be harder to determine than you think. Rather than relying on someone’s winsome personality, ask for a few references and have a conversation with them. It’s not an insult to check an honest person’s reputation. If someone balks, then maybe counting money isn’t the right job in the church for them.

2. They are discrete. When you count the offering, you see a lot more sensitive information than just how the Wallace boys fold their money. Nothing hurts a church’s fellowship like idle gossip about who gives what. And if curiosity about that kind of information drives you to volunteer to count the money, repent and find another ministry to perform immediately. It’s too great a temptation not to share if you are prone to sharing confidential information.

3. They are meticulous. I probably didn’t appreciate money counters until I had the distinct pleasure of leading a Cub Scout pack’s popcorn fundraiser. Besides tracking the sales of every scout in a large pack, we had to gather each weekend and count by hand the cash contributed outside of grocery stores where our adorable Cub Scouts, decked out in full uniform, mastered the “Sir, may I have some more?” look of a Dickensian orphan, reaping bucket-fulls of shoppers’ generosity. Our counting team consisted of 3-4 of the pack leaders. We counted, counted behind each other, and signed off on every deposit. If we were ever distracted and ended up with a few pennies discrepancy, we recounted. It was a pain, but it was done right.

4. They are patient. While everyone else is getting a seat at the restaurant, the saintly money counters ignore their hunger pangs and dutifully stay until the job is done. If the job is semi- or completely automated, then it may go quickly. But on any given Sunday, there could be a hiccup in the system that keeps them there longer than they want to be. Impatience leads to mistakes—“haste makes waste” and all that.

5. They love their church. We tend to revere the deacons or the soloists and musicians who publicly display their talents and utterly ignore the accountants or financial experts who help the church function. What I appreciate about the people who perform this rsponsibility at our church is hearing in their conversation just how much they care about our church. They love the Lord and they are willing to do anything to be of service. They are glad to do such an invisible chore, and when someone prays “Add your blessing to these tithes and offerings” for the offertory prayer, I think of these dedicated servants and know that God is adding blessing upon blessing because of and to them.

If you think you possess these qualities, it may be that you are called to the ministry of counting. And if you’re not, find out who is unfolding and counting your money and tell them “Thank you!”

Lance Wallace_for_webLance Wallace is a Baptist layperson and member of Parkway Baptist Church in Johns Creek, GA, does media relations and issues management at his day job, and blogs at newsouthessays.com.

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