Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reverse Offering

Some of you may have heard of the radical concept of reverse offering with regard to passing the plate in church.  The idea being that if you have an offering, you put it in.  If you don't have food, you take something out.  I thought it was a really original and perhaps useful idea when I heard it several years ago.  One church we were in even tried a more controlled approach of this innovation.

I did not know that the idea was at that time already in use in Mongolia.  On top of many hills here are piles of rocks that are considered holy, or at least a representative of the spirit of that area.  So Mongolians have for years added something to the pile, and walked around it three times.  If they don't have a cloth, bottle, food, then a rock or even money will suffice.

Yesterday my neighbor, who is believes in Jesus, stopped by for a visit.  I was asking him some questions about Mongolian religion.  He said he and his family have never followed many of these customs.  Said his dad used to have no qualms about helping himself to visible cash that other people places up there.  Said that he himself has never been afraid to pick up bills worth up to 5$ that other people had recently offered to that spirit, mountain, or whatever.  

So maybe this helps me answer the question about what I should have done when my dog starts eating the food someone standing right there has just offered to the shrine. 

1 comment:

Josh said...


Actually, that's pretty funny about the Mongolian Christian fellow... Talk about God "owning the 'cattle' on a thousand hills," eh?

I have a story I was going to write about on my blog soon that this reminds me of... There's this creepy guy here who lives out of his van but always dresses really nice (he looks kind of like Mr. Rogers, which... just adds to the creepiness...), has really, really white teeth. Anyway, this guys has a photographic memory, knows the Scripture back and forth -- but so good he can quote it 90% right and then switch words without people noticing, if they're new Christians, or 'seekers.' A dangerous combination.

This guy used to always come in my office and try and... I don't know what he was trying to do... but I finally told him to stop wasting my time (I know it sounds harsh... but he was not there to hear from me or in an honest search for truth... he came to teach only). Which he did. For a while.

Mainly I was concerned about the many young/ new believers that go to our church. Didn't want this guy around them. Well one day, after a long absence, he walks into my office and interrupts a meeting I'm having with an older gentleman from our church. The older gentleman still thinks he's 29, but has enough vinegar in him to be 20 years older than the 66 that he is. Anyway, this guy (we call him 'Dusty') is already irritated that our meeting has been interrupted. And I can see him getting irritated at "Mr. Heretic" for coming in and teaching us about how Jesus was not God, so Dusty abruptly counter-interrupts 'Mr. Heretic' in mid-sentence.

- Pause -
Dusty and I were having a logistical meeting about raising money to buy presents for the kids that were going to come to the Church Christmas party to be held at my house.
- unpause -

Dusty interrupts "Mr. Heretic" and says, "Hey, I bet you'd like to come to the Church Christmas party at the pastor's house!"
It is at this point that I want to strangle Dusty.
Mr. Heretic replies with obvious glee, "Why sure, that would be just grand!"
Dusty doesn't miss a beat. "Then would you kindly consider, as have all others who are coming, donating to our fund to buy presents for the kids?"

Shocked and cornered, Mr. Heretic coughed up some wrinkled bills. Then he excused himself quickly and left. He never came to the party.
I did not strangle Dusty.

I love it when God takes money from non-Christians to take care of His kids. Love it. Thank you "Robin-Hood God.'