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Offering vs. Offertory — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Urooj Arif — Updated on March 18, 2024
Offering refers to a gift or contribution, often with a religious or charitable intent, while offertory is the part of a religious service dedicated to collecting these offerings.
Offering vs. Offertory — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Offering and Offertory


Key Differences

An offering is a broad term that encompasses any gift or contribution given with a spirit of generosity, often in a religious, charitable, or ceremonial context. This act is seen as a voluntary gesture of goodwill, devotion, or support. On the other hand, the offertory specifically refers to a segment within a religious service, particularly in Christian liturgies, where offerings from the congregation are collected. This moment is integral to the worship experience, symbolizing the communal giving back to God or supporting the church.
Offerings can be in various forms, including money, goods, or services, reflecting the giver's intent to contribute to a cause or entity they value. These contributions are made with no expectation of return, emphasizing the selfless nature of the act. Conversely, the offertory, while it primarily involves the collection of these offerings, is also a ritual act that signifies the congregation's collective participation in the service and their shared values and commitments.
In many religious traditions, offerings are made as a sign of faith, obedience, or gratitude, often associated with prayers, requests, or thanks. These offerings can be directed towards deities, the needy, or as support for the religious organization itself. The offertory, however, is a structured part of the service that provides a dedicated time and space for these offerings to be made, enhancing the ritualistic and communal aspects of the act.
While the concept of offering is not limited to religious contexts and can be applied to any act of giving, the offertory is distinctly religious. It plays a critical role in the liturgy, reinforcing the spiritual connection between the giver, the community, and the divine. The offertory not only facilitates the practical aspect of collecting gifts but also serves as a symbolic gesture of worship and communal unity.
The distinction between offering and offertory highlights the difference between the act of giving and the context in which this giving occurs. An offering represents the individual or collective gesture of contribution, whereas the offertory situates this gesture within the framework of a religious ceremony, imbuing it with additional layers of meaning and significance.

Comparison Chart


A gift or contribution, often with religious intent.
The part of a religious service dedicated to collecting offerings.


Can be religious, charitable, or ceremonial.
Specifically a segment within a religious service.


Voluntary and can be in various forms (money, goods, services).
A ritual act involving the collection of these voluntary contributions.


Represents individual or collective generosity.
Symbolizes communal participation and spiritual dedication.


Broad, encompassing all types of giving.
Limited to a specific moment in a religious ceremony.

Compare with Definitions


Voluntary act of generosity without expectation of return.
The offering of free tutoring sessions helped many students.


Ritual act signifying communal and spiritual dedication.
The congregation participates in the offertory with heartfelt giving.


Contribution made to support a cause or entity.
Their monthly offering to the charity made a significant difference.


Symbolizes the worshipers' collective contributions.
The offertory represents the unity and generosity of the church community.


Religious act of giving to a deity or for religious work.
The offerings at the temple were used to feed the homeless.


Part of a Christian liturgy for collecting offerings.
During the offertory, the choir sang a hymn.


A contribution to a communal fund or project.
Every offering at the fundraiser contributed to the school's renovation.


Specific time in a service for presenting gifts to the church.
Baskets were passed during the offertory for the congregation’s contributions.


A gift given to show devotion or gratitude.
The child's handmade card was a sincere offering of love.


Moment in worship dedicated to giving back to God.
The offertory is a time for reflection and gratitude.


A thing offered, especially as a gift or contribution
Everyone transported their offerings to the bring-and-buy stall


The offertory (from Medieval Latin offertorium and Late Latin offerre) is the part of a Eucharistic service when the bread and wine for use in the service are ceremonially placed on the altar. A collection of alms (offerings) from the congregation, which may take place also at non-Eucharistic services, often coincides with this ceremony.The Eucharistic theology may vary among those Christian denominations that have a liturgical offertory.


The act of making an offer.


One of the principal parts of the Eucharistic liturgy at which bread and wine are offered to God by the celebrant.


Something, such as stock, that is offered.


A musical setting for this part of the liturgy.


A presentation made to a deity as an act of religious worship or sacrifice; an oblation.


A collection of offerings at a religious service.


A contribution or gift, especially one made at a religious service.


(Christianity) A prayer said or sung as an anthem while offerings of bread and wine are placed on the altar during the Roman Catholic Mass or the Anglican Communion service.


Present participle of offer


(Christianity) The part of the Eucharist service when offerings of bread and wine are placed on the altar and when any collection is taken; also, the money or other things collected.


The act by which something is offered.


A linen or silken cloth anciently used in various ceremonies connected with the administration of the Eucharist.


That which has been offered; a sacrifice.


The act of offering, or the thing offered.


An oblation or presentation made as a religious act.


An anthem chanted, or a voluntary played on the organ, during the offering and first part of the Mass.


A contribution given at a religious service.


The Scripture sentences said or sung during the collection of the offerings.


Something put forth, bid, proffered or tendered, such as for sale


The offerings of the congregation at a religious service


The act of an offerer; a proffering.


The part of the Eucharist when bread and wine are offered to God


That which is offered, esp. in divine service; that which is presented as an expiation or atonement for sin, or as a free gift; a sacrifice; an oblation; as, sin offering.
They are polluted offerings more abhorredThan spotted livers in the sacrifice.


A sum of money offered, as in church service; as, a missionary offering.
[None] to the offering before her should go.


Something offered (as a proposal or bid);
Noteworthy new offerings for investors included several index funds


Money contributed to a religious organization


The verbal act of offering;
A generous offer of assistance


The act of contributing to the funds of a church or charity;
Oblations for aid to the poor

Common Curiosities

Can offerings be made outside of religious contexts?

Yes, offerings can be made in non-religious contexts, such as charitable donations or gifts to show appreciation or support.

What happens during the offertory in a church service?

During the offertory, offerings from the congregation are collected, often accompanied by prayer or music, as part of the worship service.

Why is the offertory important in religious services?

The offertory is important because it symbolizes the congregation's communal giving, spiritual dedication, and participation in the service.

Can offerings be made anonymously?

Yes, offerings can be made anonymously, allowing individuals to contribute without disclosing their identity.

How do churches use the offerings collected during the offertory?

Churches typically use offerings for maintenance, charitable work, community support, and furthering their religious mission.

Are offerings always monetary?

No, offerings can include money, goods, services, or any other form of contribution intended to support a cause, entity, or religious practice.

Is participation in the offertory mandatory?

Participation in the offertory is voluntary, reflecting the individual's or family's decision to contribute as an act of worship or support.

Can I make an offering if I'm not a member of the church?

Yes, churches generally welcome offerings from anyone willing to contribute, regardless of membership status.

What is the difference between a tithe and an offering?

A tithe is a specific type of offering, often defined as giving one-tenth of one's income to the church, whereas offerings can be any contribution without a set amount.

What can be considered an offering?

An offering can be any gift or contribution made with a spirit of generosity, often for religious, charitable, or ceremonial purposes.

Do all religions have an offertory ritual?

While many religions have rituals involving offerings, the specific practice and significance of the offertory can vary greatly among different faiths.

Are there special offertory prayers?

Yes, many religious services include specific prayers during the offertory to bless the offerings and the givers.

How can I make an offering if I cannot attend services?

Many religious organizations allow for online or mail-in offerings to accommodate those who cannot attend services in person.

What is the significance of offering in spirituality?

In spirituality, offering is a tangible expression of one's faith, gratitude, and commitment to the divine or to a cause.

Is the offertory only for collecting money?

No, the offertory can also involve the presentation of symbolic gifts or other forms of contributions besides money.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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