Although I'm being paid to be there, when the church collection plate comes around, do I put in?

I design and install church sound systems for a living. As a result I attend a lot of church services. When the collection plate comes around, am I expected to put in? If so, how much would be appropriate?

My contribution ends up being a round-about discount for my services. All my fees are negotiated well in advance so (in my mind) I shouldn’t be required to do any further discounting.

I suspect folks in attendance pay close attention to who puts in. I suspect the actions of a non-church member are even more closely scrutinized. It’s been my experience that ANYTHING different in such a parochial setting is talked about.

I can’t just sit and observe how much other people put in and put in a like amount as their tithe is usually concealed in an envelop. I can’t just use an envelop myself as theirs are usually printed with their names. My envelop would stand out, which exactly what I don’t want.

I don’t want to come off as a super douche by not contributing anything, but at the same time I don’t want to insult by contributing too little or stand out by giving too much. When the plate comes around I usually find some techie stuff to do in order to look too busy to be bothered.

Oh, and if it matters, I’m an atheist. I’d rather be doing something other than church sound systems but it’s better than flipping burgers. I justify it by telling myself that I’m providing a necessary service. My service helps folks feel better even though I don’t share their passion.

If you are not a member of that church or religious community I can’t see any reason why you should or should be expected to contribute to the collection.

Do you feel you are benefiting from the service? Are you inspired to help the church to perform its good works in the community? If so, toss a buck in the plate. If not, you’re just a hired hand and their opinions of you don’t extend past your paycheck.

Church members (and attendees) tithe in a variety of ways in addition to the obvious one of putting monies into the passed offering plate during services. I wouldn’t feel any embarrassment or think I was under scrutiny for what I did or did not contribute during that part of the service.

As to your larger question, it sounds like you’re there working as opposed to it being a emotional or spiritual event. I don’t think you should feel any need to contribute if you don’t neccesarily want to help sponsor the events and programs that church is involved in. But if you do then great, I’m sure whatever you drop in the place will be appreciated and used to help their cause(s).

I suspect you worry too much and are overthinking this. Lots of people give by mailing in checks, automatic bank payments, and other methods that are not evidenced by putting something into the collection plate. Most people don’t scrutinize who puts what into the plate, and only a very small handful can even see what any individual does.

And if some hyper-observant judgmental jerk happens to sit next to you and note what you do or don’t do, so what? Seriously, why should you care?

At least at my church, it isn’t possible to determine who gives how much from watching them during collection. We use and encourage a program called Simply Giving that allows you to donate electronically. It is easy, convenient, and makes record keeping much simpler for us and for the church. And nobody except the treasurer knows who gives how much, and she is a thorough professional who never mentions it to anyone - ever. IIRC it is against the law for her to do so.

So donate, or not, as God calls you. It is very seriously nobody else’s business.


OP is uber paranoid about people watching during the offering phase of a ceremony. Ushers that collect offerings are normally volunteers. And especially if you are there as a contractor checking on the sound system, don’t feel compelled to donate.

No, you don’t have to give, though I’m sure you’ll get the stinkeye from a few. Who cares? Part of being an adult is to shrug off those kinds of stares. Presumably your charity dollar goes where you want (and that includes nowhere) so you are under no obligation to give.

Wear a shirt that says “Church Sound System Repair” in big letters. Move around discreetly during the service making a big show of looking at speakers, taking notes, etc. IOW, make it *look *like you’re working. Carry some gizmo even if it isn’t a tool you actually use.

Nobody expects a working photographer to contribute, and everybody can recognize one working a service. Be like that.

And, as everybody just above says … What do you care if the busybodies fuss to one another? You’ll never interact with them and probably won’t encounter them at all until your next service call months from now.

Just to be clear-- are you attending church just so you can get their business? You way you’re an atheist, so I can’t imagine any other reason you’d be attending the services. As a grown adult, I hope you’re not doing this because your family is pressuring you to attend.

But anyway, you should give or not give as your conscience tells you. Maybe you think the church does a lot of good in the community or maybe you think the priests are using the collection for hookers and blow. Or somewhere in-between. It’s your decision as an adult.

I got the impression he was attending services after he got the contract, not as a way of scoping out new business.

Add me to those who opine that you’re under no obligation whatsoever to put something in the collection plate.

The scriptural answer I would give would depend if you are under the law or grace. If under the law a tithe of the fee you made would seem appropriate though one can argue, and quite correctly, that should go to your ‘home church’ But then again your ‘home church’ can be said to be these churches that you visit as you visit them.

If you are under grace, your heart will lead you to the correct answer, both if you wish to give, and also give for appearance sake (as Jesus did, even though He clearly stated the sons are exempt from the temple tax).

You could also take it as a apostle calling, as Paul did, traveling from church to church, supported by them, you would be the recipient, their apostle. In this you could decide to take the funds from one church to help another, other causes, and to support your own self.

If these are Christian churches, they hopefully will obey, or at least acknowledge, 1 Corinthians 13, which states that giving without the proper intent is worthless.

The standard answer is 10% of your weekly salary, but there are plenty of people who put in a smaller amount. Also, many people who do give 10% prefer to do it with a check, or they might give part of it to their local church and part of it to some other charity. In any case, I seriously doubt that anyone will be paying attention to how much you put in. Speaking as a former Baptist, I don’t remember ever noticing what anyone else did or didn’t put into the collection plate. Even if someone notices, they’d be an idiot to assume that your contribution today supports any conclusions about what you did last week or what you might be planning to do next week.

If you don’t want to put money in, then don’t. If you still feel embarrassed, try paying attention to the timing of when the plate is about to be passed and find an excuse to leave your seat and check on some wires or something.

Are you sitting in the pews? Can you not sit in the pews at collection plate time?

Otherwise there is nothing wrong with just passing the plate along, it is an optional contribution. Otherwise they would charge a door fee to get in.

Do like my FIL and strum your fingertips loudly against the bottom of the collection plate to rattle all the change.

That or hey, you’re a Sound Guy, have a recorder in your pocket that sounds like a whole bunch of gold coins being poured into the plate. Then make the sign of the cross, point skyward like you just scored a touchdown and take a well deserved seat.

Are you sitting in the pews during services in order to get an idea of the acoustic properties of the room as a part of the install? If so then I would no more expect you to put in the collection plate than I would expect you to pay for a movie ticket when providing the same service for a theater.

If you are just attending services to drum up business it becomes a bit murkier. I certainly wouldn’t put in but I am a godless heathen that doesn’t really care how such a non-action would be interpreted. It may be different if you are trying to sell yourself to the church as the man to work on their sound system.

Many regular church members don’t contribute much or at all to the collection plate (I rarely do), so you certainly shouldn’t feel an obligation.

My standard response to the standard answer would be that the ‘10%’ figure was dreamed up when modern welfare states, secular charities and para-church charities didn’t exist, and the church had to take over all those functions (such as they were). Nowadays, churches simply do less than they did a thousand years ago, and they shouldn’t feel as entitled to a portion of your income.

I try and donate 10% of my income to charity, but I certainly don’t feel any obligation to give it directly to the church.

Put differently: I think you honor God at least as much donating to an organization planting fruit trees in Niger or digging wells in Nicaragua, as you do by donating to the church collection plate at your local church.