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Friday, December 3, 2010

Simple Church Minute 9--collection plate and ushers

9—collection plate and ushers
NOTE:  I originally wrote a segment for each of the 61 points Frank Viola and George Barna make in their book, Pagan Christianity, about traditions in the institutional church not based on scripture.  After writing it, I chose to not include this segment merely as I felt that in wouldn’t be an interesting radio commentary.

My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute
            Today, we glance at two institutional church traditions—the collection plate and ushers.  The collection plate is clearly connected to the concept of tithes and offerings, which didn’t get started in the church until the Roman Empire started buildings for the church.  Somewhere after buildings being connected to churches, and probably about the time of the government wishing for others to pick up a cost they started, alms dishes or alms chests came about, where people could place donations.  The collection plate, as such, did not show up until 1662.  Since 1662, the collection plate has varied through a variety of styles, from burgundy velvet cloth with gold metal trim, still favored in some traditions, to bags so givers could put their hand totally in, so the gift would be totally private, to fried chicken buckets at some modern informal megachurches.
            Of course, if collection plates are to be passed, there are ushers to assist in their passing.  The original predecessor to the usher was the porter.  Started in the 3rd century, the porter, at that time, was considered lesser clergy, and his job included locking and opening the church doors, keeping order in the building, and directing deacons.  Just before the Reformation, in England, the porter was replaced by the church warden.  The usher came about when Queen Elizabeth the First reorganized the liturgy of the Church of England.   Ushers were responsible for walking people to their seats, in part to make certain that people who paid for reserved seats would have them when they arrived.  Ushers were responsible for collecting offerings and keeping track of who took communion.  Almost none of what I have said has the slightest connection to any of the directions God has given the church in the New Testament.
            You…

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