Toy theft and pursuant wails in living rooms and church nurseries make it ear-splittingly obvious: taking is instinctual. Learning to give? That takes effort, but it’s a critical step in helping kids understand stewardship.
We asked pastors, parents, and children’s ministry leaders for their advice on how to teach the kids in our lives how to be cheerful givers. Here are their tips.
1. Model stewardship for kids
“I’d say that modeling it to them is more important than simply teaching. ‘More is caught than taught’ is something we say. Jesus taught his disciples, but he would model to them as well. My dad would write his tithe check every month and give it to me to put in the offering bucket as it would get passed.”
2. Tell stories
“Stories are really powerful. Sharing stories, whether that be real stories or stories from a kid’s book that tells of people being sacrificial, is powerful.”
3. Acknowledge others’ generosity
“As parents, when someone gives our family something (pays for dinner, brings us a meal, gives us a gift card, etc.), we make sure our kids know that someone else was really generous. We want our kids to know that we have been blessed by so many others who have generously given to us . . . and that we want to share that generosity with others.”
4. Be generous with time & service
“The kids don’t have to spend a ton of money to be generous. They love making cards and writing notes that express thanks and gratitude.”
5. Make teaching giving interactive
“Providing interactive elements in the teaching setting helps a ton, so bring in small bills and change and mason jars, and then have kids give to certain things and understand how that works.”
6. Churches, say thank you
“Instead of an allowance, we’ve given our kids opportunities to earn money from a pretty young age. They’ve learned the importance of saving and tithing off their ‘income’ according to God’s Word. At our previous church (pre-digital giving), our boys would put their cash donations (sometimes even coins) into separately marked envelopes. After our oldest’s initial tithe, the lead pastor personally wrote him a letter of gratitude applauding and encouraging living generously. At tax time, our kids even received individual donation records.
“Our church did a fantastic job supporting us and the character we’re working to develop in our kids.”
“We have found it very difficult to teach [generosity] to children who are naturally incredibly territorial about their own stuff that it is good to show concern for other people’s stuff. But in those moments when they show flashes of awareness and selflessness, it feels like a downpour of divine grace. Sometimes the same small child who yesterday was screaming after HIS SISTER LOOKED AT HIS TOY (that he hasn’t paid any attention to in two years, that, yeah, has lain dormant in the bottom of the wrong toy box for that entire time)—that very child can shock you with his generosity. As parents we just pray that the Lord would increase the instances of this behavior, that he would produce the fruit of the Spirit in them.”
8. Get a four-legged friend
“Letting them invest in care of animals has been really great. They naturally dote on animals. This love drives them toward stewardship in a way that nearly nothing else does.”
9. Involve children in outreach & community care
“If your church helps feed the homeless, provides toys to the needy, etc., bring your kids along so they can see firsthand the difference giving makes.”
10. Show gratitude for giving opportunities
“When you raise money for a special need (like buying clothes to donate to a missionary’s orphanage), be excited about it. Make it clear you’re grateful for the opportunity to have a part in what God is doing through giving.”
For resources to help you teach stewardship to people of all ages, create an account or sign in at faithlife.com. From there, click on Giving in the top left and expand the Study Resources tab.
Since Faithlife Giving is the only online church giving platform that also nurtures healthy stewardship, it also includes excellent, visual ways to model stewardship for your kids.
• Determine a giving goal with the built-in calculator.
• See what you’ve given right there on your giving summary.
• Set up a recurring gift to plan your generosity.