How much do you contribute when 'visiting' churches?

What I mean is, you have your own church, and make regular offerings there (tithe, maybe) but sometimes while traveling or on vacation you’ll attend a service at a local church.

What do you feel is the right amount to put in the collection plate?

I think about ten dollars is right. That is what I’ve observed at my church.

In Australia when I’m at mass in another parish I give the same amount I would normally give at my own parish: $10 in the first collection and $20 in the second. If overseas, I give roughly the equivalent in local currency.

10 dollars?

I’m not a churchgoer (being an atheist), but I have to ask is that 10 dollars every time you go to church? Say every Sunday or however often you go.

What, you don’t think church is worth the price of a movie ticket? :smiley:

Usually, what I would have put in at my church had I gone there.

Well, they need to work on the offerings at the concession stand… :wink:
I guess I should have made my thinking clearer in the OP. When I contribute through my church, I’m giving money that will be used in ways that fall into two main categories:
a) upkeep of that particular church and costs due to ‘staffing’ (salary/housing/health insurance/etc. for the pastor/priest/whatever, organists, choir directors, custodians, and so forth.)

b) ‘charity’. Everything from helping out local parishioner’s with medical bills to subsidizing church schools to evangelism to digging village wells in Zanzibar. Everything that falls under the ‘good works’ done by the church.
At my church (Lutheran) we make annual pledges of what we will contribute, both money and through work. I happen to know (because my sister is currently serving as the church treasurer) that the most common way of meeting your financial pledge is a once-a-month check dropped into the collection plate. This is what we do.

So my situation is that I am committed to giving $X to my church, regardless of whether I attend services. In my case, that amount includes the great majority of what I budget for ‘charity’ giving.

Now, on vacation, I attend services at, oh, First Lutheran Church of Memphis. (Name pulled out of nowhere.) What is a ‘fair’ amount for me to contribute?

I had always thought it should be just a token amount. We are already ‘supporting’ our home church’s needs and charities. Assuming that our presence at the service hasn’t caused someone else to not be able to attend, our impact on their ‘expenses’ is at most a little more electricity to run the AC, and the cost of a printed bulletin or two, and whatever wear and tear we cause by walking in and out and sitting on a pew for an hour… in essence, nothing. My pattern had been to contribute just $5.

After doing this during vacations all the years of our marriage, hubby finally noticed …and was ‘horrified’ at how ‘cheap’ I was being. He thinks that if we are contributing the equivalent of $X per week at our home church, it is only ‘fair’ to give the same amount wherever we go.

So, what say you? $5 or a full $X? Or should we split the difference?

I’ve attended more than one mainstream United Methodist Church where some comment was made by the minister to the general effect of “If you are visiting today, consider yourself our guest. You don’t need to contribute anything to the offering plate, we are passing it for the benefit of the parishioners.”

My brother’s non-denominational church just “hides” the offering box at the back, so that non “regular” attenders are unlikely to notice and contribute. (They don’t have members. But, if you want to know how they are spending their money, you better stick some money with your name on it in the box.)

If one tithes ten percent of one’s income, it doesn’t take much income for $10 a week to be inadequate. (Of course, if one views the important part of tithing as “giving money to Jesus” I can make a very good argument in favor of other charitable giving counting as tithing.)

Unless one does not have a regular church, I see little reason to contribute as much to the offering plate of a church that one is “visiting” as one would to a church where your children get the benefits of Sunday school, you enjoy the benefits of the sound system, you take communion regularly, or whatever other activities you participate in which may cost money.

The nutshell version of my post is $5 is fine $X is excessive, Splitting the difference might be a good idea, if only to appease thy spouse–assuming that splitting the difference will appease said spouse and not still appear cheap.

I don’t give anything.

I am an atheist, so I don’t regularly attend church. And I don’t feel comfortable with financially supporting religious institutions. However, I have friends and family who do attend church regularly, and I accept their invitations to attend church three or four times a year on average.

A tangentially related story, which I do not imply is representative of religion, but which left me with a lot of distrust of “strange” churches.

One time, when attending chruch with a friend, I was astonished to see that, rather than passing the basket through the pews, the offering was collected by having the congregation walk up and deposit money in a central receptacle. This was very uncomfortable for me, because we were obviously being put on display, and it felt like they were trying to shame people into giving. I ended up particularly glad that I didn’t give in when the sermon took a decidedly hateful tone and I ended up walking out rather than listening to any more homophobic filth. It’s the only time I have ever walked out of a church in disgust.

Since I live on the road, I go to a LOT of churches other than the one that I am a member of.

The amounts and all have been pretty well covered here, and I really don’t have anything to add to that.

I would like to say that at a majority of the churches in my denomination, they only ask that you fill out the guest card (name, church you are a member of, your address, a few other things…takes about 2 minutes max) and drop that in the collection plate.

They don’t use it for marketing or anything, it’s mainly for their records, and all I ever get from them is a thank you note for visiting, it is never a problem.

Just another take on this, is all.

BTW, Walrus, I don’t blame you for walking out in disgust. I’d of done the same!! :mad:

If I had a willingness to pay of $10 or more for a chruch visit. I would go to church and probably not be an atheist. Of course since I am an economist I would probably free ride and don’t give anything at all and get all of the consumer surplus. :wink:

I suppose in a way that it is logical that a religious person be quite happy to pay to do something they enjoy the same way I would pay $10 to go and see a movie.

I give to my old church if I’m visiting (it’s in California and I’m in Ohio). I might givey $10-$20, or sometimes nothing if I don’t have cash. It’s not important, it’s not like they have a cover charge.

At my old church in Cape Town, the service leader would explicitly say “This is for church members - please don’t feel you have to contribute if you’re visiting” before the collection was taken.

At my current church, thre is no collection during services - members are encouraged to pledge by standing order, and there is a collection box by the entrance for those who prefer/are only able to give on a week by week basis.

Both these approaches send the right message (I think) to visitors - that the message we bring is that of a free gift, and that supporting the work of the church is the responsibility of those who have chosen to follow its teachings.

Not to comment on what happened after this event, but just to tell a story - the African woman who works for my mum back home told that they collect the offering at her church in a similar way, except that it forms part of a several hours long worship service with each member making thier way to the front to place their offering in the basket while the band play and the people clap and cheer - a real carnival/celebration atmosphere. She said that she would break her offering up into small change so that she could make several trips to the front!! :wally (meant affectionately - she’s worked for the family for 15 years or more and is almost an adopted aunt)