Why we Celebrate the First Fruits Offering at Essential Church

Every year on our church’s anniversary, we conclude our worship service with a special offering called the First Fruits offering. Since this may be unfamiliar to many believers, we thought it may be helpful to share a little of the Biblical background and purpose of this one time annual offering.
The First Fruits Offering is first introduced in Deuteronomy 26:1-11 as God was preparing the people for how they would respond with gratitude for entering into the promised land. In this passage we learn about the deeper meaning of the First Fruits Offering.

The First Fruits Offering is…

  1. A response to God’s gift of grace. (Deuteronomy 26:8-9)

Repeatedly throughout this passage the people recognize that it is the Lord who is giving them the land and leading them into the promised land. It is not a result of their works, but a gift of grace in response to their faith. We have received access to an even greater “promised land” in the gift of eternal life available to us by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

This offering is not given to earn God’s favor or appease God anger. Rather, it is a response to God’s love and grace. How a person responds to grace reveals how a person understands grace. A true understanding of grace reminds us that everything is a gift.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:17-18

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Every gift, our lives, our salvation, all that we have, and all that we are is only because of the grace of God in our lives. So our lives become a First Fruits offering back to God. When we consider all that God has done to bless and grow our church, we are amazed! Our response is to give back out of what God has so freely and graciously given.

  1. An offering of FIRST priority. (Deuteronomy 26:10)

            We give our FIRST, because God gave His FIRST and He is FIRST in our lives. God did not give us His leftovers, rather He gave us His only Son in Jesus Christ. He has given us His very best. Giving our first demonstrates faith, gratitude and worship. It is so much easier to give our leftovers. God is honored, and He honors those who choose to give Him their first and not just their last.

  1. An offering of joyful celebration. (Deuteronomy 26:11)

The First Fruits offering is for our family, our church and the world to: See, Celebrate and be Blessed.

God identifies that the offering brings a blessing to your “house.” When we give back to the Lord in joyful celebration our family is blessed and learns from us. The offering is also a blessing to the Church (Levites). It is a great blessing and responsibility for the people of God to care for and provide for the men and women of God who are entrusted with the spiritual care of their congregation. In the First Fruits offering, we support those missionaries around the nation and the world who like the Levites are fully dependent upon God’s people for their provision. The offering also is a blessing to the non-religious outsiders like the sojourners in the Old Testament. There are many today in our community and around the world who are dependent on the generosity of the people of God and through our tangible expression of compassion, they may become receptive to the Gospel. Even as God had blessed His people, He also desired that they too would be a blessing to the church and the world around them.

The Essential Church First Fruits offering is focused on blessing the church and the world around us through these three areas:

  1. Church Missions:  The first 25% of our First Fruits offering will go toward supporting and supplementing the cost of mission trips for Essential Church members.  The greater our giving, the greater our ability to help send out our members as missionaries around the world.
  2. Regional, National, and International Missions:  Each year, our denomination takes up special offerings for missions.  The Sylvia Wilson offering goes toward state and regional missions.  The Annie Armstrong missions offering goes toward North American missions.  The Lottie Moon offering goes toward International missions.  Rather than asking people to give 3 or more times per year, we have chosen to give our second 25% of our First Fruits offering towards these three areas.
  3. Special Church Projects:  As the church grows, this portion of the First Fruits offering will take on extra importance as it will serve as the means for doing things as a church that may be outside of the scope of the annual church budget. This year, will include the following (as we have the resources available):

* Assisting the SUMMERLINK internship program with the cost of summer lodging.

* Helping to send our Students (7-12th) to Summer Camp (Centrifuge in Turner, OR)

* Assisting Ying Zhang in her ministry with Bridges International

* Assisting Essential Church members with one-time foster/adoption expenses as the Lord leads.

* Purchasing equipment and other vision-oriented needs as the Lord leads.

Jesus is the True and Better First Fruits:

(1 Corinthians 15:19-24)

Christ was resurrected on the day after the Passover- Which is the day of the first fruits offering. The First Fruits offering were a pledge, which indicated that the entire harvest was soon to follow. When Jesus was raised from the dead, it was God’s assurance to us that those who have put their faith in Christ will also be raised one day as part of that future harvest. First Fruits remind us of this powerful truth-The best is yet to come.

So, as we come to present this offering to the Lord, we come as a response to God’s grace, we come to demonstrate God is first, we come with joyful celebration and we come to honor the Lord, knowing that the best is yet to come! We believe in faith that God’s promises are true and that we can never out give God.

 “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” 

Proverbs 3:9-10