Alabaster -- International building fund offering

Alabaster giving is the overflow of hearts filled with gratitude to God for the wonderful gift of His Son.

picture of Alabaster offering

Alabaster, the international building fund of the Church of the Nazarene), funds four projects every week.

How can I help?

  1. Give to Alabaster offerings. The combined participation by thousands of people in these September and February [ more info ] offerings is doing some awesome things.
  2. Pray for people who will be touched by your Alabaster offering gift.
  3. If you don't already have an Alabaster box or container, get one. Put it in a prominent place in your home or workplace. Make your own Alabaster box if your church lacks boxes or containers.
  4. Teach your children and youth about the Alabaster offering. Encourage them to participate.
  5. Do not allow your congregation to miss the blessings of Alabaster giving. Even if your church uses Faith Promise to enable people to participate in the various missions offerings, use the months of September and February to remind the congregation of how it is involved in construction projects around the world.

    Also, don't forget about those people who are not participating in Faith Promise. They need the opportunity to give to special missions offerings like Alabaster. After all, their need to give far exceeds the church's need to receive.

Believers around the world are praying that God will meet their needs for a building in which to worship, receive medical care, or go to school.

We know God hears their prayers. We know that He will answer them. Could it be that He will answer them through you?

"I had a sweet little pre-k friend bring me an Alabaster box yesterday at church. She was so excited that she had collected change to 'help build churches far away.'" -- Allison White, Nazarene Bible College student

A month of Alabaster giving

How much money should you be putting in your Alabaster box?

Try these amounts.

Days of month
Amount to give
Reasons to give
Amounts are in U.S. dollars and cents
_______ 15¢ for each bottle/can of pop in your home
_______ 225¢ for each clock you own
_______ 3One dollar for each car/truck you own
_______ 460¢ for each type of cereal in your cabinets
_______ 575¢ for each type of cologne or perfume on your dresser
_______ 615¢ for each pet you own and an additional 25¢ if the pets are large
_______ 750¢ per hour of television your family watched today
_______ 835¢ for each time you ate out last week
_______ 1045¢ for each piece of jewelry you own
_______ 1120¢ for each game you own
_______ 1255¢ for each house plant you have
_______ 1325¢ for each radio you own
_______ 1450¢ for each trip you made to a store of any kind this week
_______ 1540¢ for each type of shampoo you have in your house
_______ 1650¢ for each drink you took today of something other than water
_______ 1710¢ for each telephone call you made or received today
_______ 1880¢ for each hobby represented in your family
_______ 1915¢ for each tie or scarf you own
_______ 2025¢ for each power tool or labor-saving device you own
_______ 2115¢ for each picture/painting on your home/office walls
_______ 2214¢ for each mile you drive to church
_______ 235¢ for each book you own
_______ 2495¢ for each sports team you keep track of
_______ 2535¢ for each musical instrument in your house
_______ 2620¢ for each computer game you have or internet bookmark you use regularly
_______ 2725¢ for each snack item purchased this week
_______ 285¢ for each hour of recorded music you listen to each week
_______ 2925¢ for each type of flower, tree, or shrub in your yard
_______ 3075¢ for each entertainment-related activity you did this week
_______ 3150¢ for each hour you spent online this week

Alabaster offering and Elizabeth Roby Vennum

"Give up a want to meet a need"-- Funding for facilities for global ministry

What is an Alabaster box?

For years, small cardboard containers about the size of animal crackers boxes with the word "Alabaster" printed on them have been sitting in Nazarene homes. There, they have served as collection containers for millions of dollars for world evangelism.

Where did the idea for the Nazarene "Alabaster offering" come from?

The Alabaster box idea began during Elizabeth Vennum's dozen years of service on the Nazarene Missions International Global Council. In the late 1940s, the Church of the Nazarene experienced a crunch in mission funding. At the 1949 meeting of what is now the General NMI Council, Elizabeth was asked to come up with a promotional idea that could raise funding for land purchases and building construction needs in Nazarene mission areas. As she rode the train home to Florida from that council meeting in Kansas City, Vennum said the Lord gave her the details for the Alabaster offering. "And the rest is now history," said the former General NMI director Nina Gunter.

photo of Elizabeth Vennum

The offering promotion was based on the story of the woman pouring perfume on Jesus from a container carved from soft alabaster stone. Building on that Biblical story, Mrs. Vennum decided to ask Nazarene women to put off buying that new perfume for themselves or postpone getting a new dress and to give that money to world missions instead (in sort of the same way that the woman gave her bottle of perfume to Jesus).

Mrs. Vennum promoted her offering idea with the slogan: "Give up a want to meet a need." Since its inception, that semi-annual Alabaster offering (in February and September) has generated more than $100 million for land purchase and construction at thousands of sites worldwide.

Without public fanfare, Mrs. Vennum also encouraged and financed the education of national pastors and evangelists in several Third World countries. In addition, she personally mentored numerous young preachers and Christian lay leaders in the U.S.A.

It seemed particularly serendipitous that Mrs. Vennum's homegoing occurred during Alabaster's 50th anniversary year.

The Alabaster box wasn't Elizabeth Vennum's only creative moment. Along the way, she also developed materials and methods for Christian education at the local church level. As an ordained Nazarene elder, she was also innovative in leading people to share their faith with friends and family members.

Elizabeth Vennum's father was a Nazarene pastor. Feeling a call to ministry, she began her training in Nashville at what is now Trevecca Nazarene University. She transferred north to Eastern Nazarene College in the Boston area, graduating from that school in 1932. She married Earle Vennum in 1934. Together, they served the Lord as a pastoral team for churches in Florida, Indiana, and Tennessee.

Alabaster building on 10th Street

"A woman came to [Jesus] with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head . . . "Why this waste?" they asked. . . . Jesus said to them, . . . "Wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her." — Matthew 26:6-13

Early in 2001, I walked through a dimly lit, abandoned warehouse on NW 10th in Oklahoma City. The inside of the building was a mess. They told me that aircraft parts had been made there during World War II.

A few blocks away, in a sea of apartment buildings, stood Greenvale Elementary School. For 20 years, a teacher there had prayed that the Church of the Nazarene would come to the blighted area and make a difference for her students who came from families often referred to as "the working poor."

On Easter Sunday of 2000, God answered the teacher's prayer. "New Life Community" Nazarene church began holding services in that very school where she had often silently cried out to the Lord on behalf of the children and young people living in all those apartments.

From the start, the dream for the Greenvale church plant was not limited to Sunday church services. Like any effective church, its vision included a wide range of ministries specifically aimed at its racially diverse neighborhood. Making that dream come true would require more than the use of a school cafeteria on Sunday mornings. That's when the fledgling church began dreaming about buying the abandoned warehouse.

Alabaster funds were a key part of the financing package. Then, the loving hands of volunteer craftsmen from Nazarene churches in the area began transforming that warehouse into a ministry center. Even the woman who runs the tavern across the street has been impressed. Her grandson became active in the youth group.

"Giving up a want to meet a need" was an early Alabaster offering slogan. It's certainly met a need on 10th St.

Thanks, Alabaster, for helping answer a teacher's prayer.

    -- Howard Culbertson,

originally published in Holiness Today

More on the Alabaster offering in Nazarene mission book Our Balanced Attack

Giving up a "Want" to Meet a "Need"

For Elizabeth Vennum, the slogan "giving up a want to meet a need" became a compelling way to think about the the biblical story of the woman with the expensive alabaster jar of perfume (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-8).

Here are a few ways the slogan "giving up a want to meet a need" could apply to this story:


The Alabaster Offering is a special offering taken in the Church of the Nazarene twice a year. It is named after the alabaster container mentioned in Luke 7:37-38, where a woman pours expensive perfume from an alabaster jar onto Jesus' feet. The Nazarene offering is intended to support missions and ministries around the world by constructing church buildings, schools, medical facilities, and other infrastructure. The funds collected through the Alabaster Offering are used to meet specific needs identified by the church's leadership and are distributed through the denomination's global missions program. It's one way for congregations to contribute to spreading the Gospel and being inivolved in ministry in communities beyond their own local context.

More on the poor

"What a wonderful help it's been to find your website! Thanks for a fabulous site. God was good to let me stumble onto it!" -- Cheryl L., North Carolina, USA

Alabaster Offering inserts for Sunday bulletins (worship folders)

Need missions bulletin board ideas for promoting the Alabaster offering?

The twice-a-year Alabaster offering is for the Nazarene global building fund which purchases land and builds churches, schools, and medical facilities.

Our local church uses legal-size paper (8 1/2 by 14 inches) for Sunday morning worship bulletins or folders. Those sheets are folded to make three panels 8 1/2 by 4 5/8 inches.

Using artwork from the global office of Nazarene Missions International, I created a series of missions informational inserts to fit into those bulletins. These could also be used as missions posters or even as starting points for missions bulletin boards.

Click on an image to open a full-sized PDF of that insert.


graphic promoting sacrificial giving in the Alabaster offering a challenge to set
aside something every day of a month fot the Alabaster offering phrases promoting giving in the Alabaster offering a poem about Alabaster giving explanation of what the Alabaster offering does words from Matthew 26 plus explanation of the Alabaster offering

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