By Johanna Townsend
It is possible for children to learn the spiritual rewards that giving personal resources provides, even in a culture obsessed with self and accumulating things. This happen as adults model giving and provide opportunities for children to participate. Teaching the biblical importance of giving and offering hands-on experiences will help our children embrace this virtuous practice. Success is measured as children respond. Children who learn to give will move from reluctant to intrinsically passionate givers.
Parents may be unfamiliar with biblical instructions regarding stewardship, tithing, and serving. Church leaders should offer a variety of opportunities for families to serve and give. There is solid evidence that children learn from what their parent models. I recall my father saying, “Giving begins at home”. My family had little money, but my dad often helped others in need which taught me to serve with my time and to share what I had with those less fortunate.
When my two daughters were young, they were each taught about service and giving, but they embraced these values in differed ways. Giving financially to the church and other charitable organizations was easier for one daughter. As a child, she was easily moved to action when she heard about human needs. She was willing to assist financially with any funds she had. Recently, that daughter was interviewed during a church service about her spiritual journey to tithe. She and her husband started an adoption ministry at their church and have adopted a child from Korea and will soon travel to Korea for another child.
My other daughter found it more difficult to give financially, but has always loved to serve with her time and talent. As a college student, she delivered Meals on Wheels to provide the elderly with at least one good meal a day. She often described her concerns for some of the men and women she visited. With a heart of compassion for the elderly, she currently works as a geriatric social worker and continues to tell me about the people she is helping.
It took time to ensure the desired results, but now my husband and I watch with delight as our two grandchildren ages 2 and 4 are being instructed and are learning to give and serve others. The legacy of giving is being passed to the next generation.
Here are some effective stewardship projects you may want to offer families:
1. Purchase and deliver diapers to a homeless or battered women’s shelter.
2. Adopt a neighborhood school: Provide backpacks, Thanksgiving baskets, Christmas presents, or teacher appreciation day treats.
3. Involve church families to give an area school a face lift by planting and maintaining flowers around the school.
4. ‘Soles for Souls’: Buy shoes for needy children (foster care, homeless shelter etc.).www.soles4souls.org
5. ‘Hard Floors No More’: Buy or collect blankets and deliver them to homeless street people or a homeless shelter.
6. ‘Coats for Kids’: Provide coats for needy children.
7. “Love Lift”: Fill Christmas stockings with personal necessities (toiletries, underwear etc.) and a toy for members of needy families. www.lovelift.org
8. Invite church families to join your family as you serve Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at a nearby mission.
9. Sing carols and take small gifts to a local rest home.
10. Take new or slightly used books to a homeless shelter or head start preschool. Read a book to the children then give each child a book to read.
11. Adopt a child through Compassion or another organization involve your children in collecting and counting the monthly support for this adopted child.
12. Through the Heifer project, provide farm animals for families or villages in another country.
13. Pay the cost of digging a well in a needy international village.
14. Plan or organize a food drive to stock a local food bank.
Ideas for giving can become contagious within your church. Teach children to give. Praise them, and voila, you are preparing the next generation of servant givers.