By Virginia L. Smith, Director, General Conference Children\s Ministry Department
Summary: When will children begin to reach into their own pocket for tithes and offerings instead of holding out a hand for a contribution? This article contains simple suggestions to help instill principles of stewardship in our children
It is Sabbath morning. At the church door children eagerly hold out their hands to mom and dad for offering money. Parents hand the money, confident that they have started their children down the road to responsible stewardship.
What\s wrong with this picture? Is stewardship carrying something a short distance? Does handing children offering at the door help them become stewards? When will children begin to reach into their own pocket for tithes and offerings instead of holding out a hand for a contribution?
Stewardship education must begin early. It is our responsibility to help our children understand their responsibilities as God\s stewards. Children need to learn early that stewardship is not limited to money. We need to instill in them the truth that living in love with Jesus is what stewardship is all about. Our children need to see us practice stewardship as an integral part of worship. God gives each of us, including little children, the responsibility for our bodies, our time, our house, our surroundings, the people and animals dependent on us, our communities . . . the list goes on. When true stewardship flourishes in our hearts, it penetrates every aspect of life and what God expects of us.
A lot of time and interaction is needed to help children understand the holistic concept of stewardship. Stewardship learning should be an opportunity for family bonding, the activities fun and memorable. Avoid endeavors that smack of duty, pressure, or guilt. Instruction is more effective and long lasting with a positive, rather than a negative, attitude. Here are some simple suggestions to help instill principles of stewardship in our children:
- Provide opportunities for children to earn money and to set aside their tithe and offerings.
- Give them responsibilities with backup encouragement to ensure success.
- Participate in ecology projects.
- Talk together about being good stewards in taking care of the earth.
- Help them make a stewardship chart where they can mark off responsibilities as they are fulfilled.