s parents of two children, my wife and I discovered very early how challenging and demanding the task can be of leading them to commit their lives to God. It involves far more than simply keeping them in the church. If our goal is just for them to continue attending church, we can provide sports, good food, movies, healthy interaction, and even mission trips and they will probably stay. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that their affections are on God’s side and that they have developed a deep, salvific relationship with Him. So, how can we help them to transfer their affections from here below to above?
We started by leading our daughters to develop the habit of putting God first in their daily devotional habits, before any other activity. (It will be easier for children to learn this if they see their parents doing the same thing.) Family worship is also a very important initiative.
But then, the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:21 gave us an additional clue on how to attach their hearts to God and heaven: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NKJV). Jesus is saying here that our treasures are carriers of our affections. So, as parents, if we want to have our children’s affections in heaven, we must teach them how to “carry” their treasures there.
This is the financial side of stewardship for children. Although it may not make a significant difference in the church’s finances, good stewardship habits will definitely highly impact our children’s spiritual lives as well as the church’s retention rates. It would be very unlikely, for instance, that our children would leave God or the church while tithing and giving what we call “Promise”1 (regular and systematic offering). The more they give, the more attached to God they will become!
My wife and I began financial stewardship education by teaching our daughters2 to give tithe and “Promise” regularly, systematically, recognizing God as the Originator and Provider of every income, which is a blessing. We knew that we would have but a short span of time to provide the appropriate education that would lead them to a deeper relationship with their Creator and Redeemer. Financial stewardship, when rightly taught, can play a crucial role in that enterprise,
helping them, in a practical way, to see God as real!
You will find below some suggestions that my wife and I applied when teaching stewardship practices and principles to children, either in our own home and to other children in our churches:
IF YOU ARE A PARENT:
l Start early. Donald Crane suggests ages 6 or 7.3
l Give them a small regular allowance. It may be weekly for younger children and monthly for teenagers.⁴
l Invite them to put God first in all areas of life, starting with the daily devotional aspect, but including also their finances, highlighting God’s promise for those who do it (Matt. 6:33). Teach them to give back to God after any income (by returning tithe and “Promise”). God’s part must be returned before any other expense is met.
l Teach them the concept of proportional giving:⁵ Use the stories of Zacchaeus, the poor widow, and Ananias and Sapphira to illustrate that concept.
l Teach them that regular/systematic offering (“Promise”⁶) is as important as the tithe (Mal. 3:8-10).
l Share your experience about “Promise” with them. If you are a Promisor, you will certainly have many evidences of God’s supernatural action in your behalf.
l Watch videos⁷ about the “Promise” concept with them.
l Lead them to vow⁸ a specific percentage of their income to be regularly given as offering. Do it in a solemn way, perhaps during the family worship, and pray with them after they commit to regularly give a regular offering as “Promise.” You may use a Commitment Card⁹ adapted especially for children.
l Allow them to start low so that they may grow. Give them free children’s dom, not forcing them to start at higher percentages for their “Promise” offering. You may suggest to them to start at a lower percentage, planning to grow it later. (I have increased that percentage many times.) Gently lead them to grow in their giving, respecting their pace in their experience with God.
l Renew their vows regularly. Once a year during the family worship (usually on New Year’s Eve or Thanksgiving), you can conduct a renewal-of-vows ceremony, following all the points of the Commitment Card.¹⁰ (See below). This should lead your children to put God first in all areas of life.
l Give them a tithe envelope. Teach them how to calculate the respective percentages of their income for tithe and Promise, and how to fill out the envelope.
l Pray with them during the family worship, presenting their filled envelopes before God.
If you are a pastor or Children’s Ministry educator, also consider the following suggestions:
l Create opportunities to teach the “Promise” concept. In cooperation with the respective leaders, go to the free
children’s Sabbath School, children’s choir, or Pathfinder meetings to promote the idea of “Promise.”
l Regularly promote renewal-of-vows ceremonies, leading children to put God first in all areas of life. Calls are a very important part of the decision-making process. I became a Promisor when I was a teenager, during a call to vow a percentage to give as Promise, made by my church’s pastor.
l Lead them to vow a specific percentage of their income as “Promise,” beyond the tithe. Use the Commitment Cards. Do it in a very solemn way.
l Make the event meaningful. Each Sabbath, provide a solemn moment during the offering collection, specifically inviting children to bring their “Promise” envelopes.
Like me, are you planning to meet your children in heaven? By applying Jesus’ treasure/affection principle we will certainly increase our chances to accomplish this dream!
¹ Find more about “Promise” (proportional regular giving) in https://stewardship.adventist.org/promise-offerings.
² On the following playlist, look for videos #35 and #43 to see some of my daughters’ experiences with offerings: https://www. youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1q_Qim1x79DFtBw-xH7isWV9WHdzkyga.
³ Family Finance Seminar. PDF file. 1984.
⁵ Find more about “Promise” (proportional regular giving) in https://stewardship.adventist.org/promise-offerings.
⁷ Find videos about “Promise” here: https:// stewardship.adventist.org/videos-on-promise.
⁸ Find more about vows or pledges here: https:// stewardship.adventist.org/vows-and-pledges-resources.
⁹ Find a Commitment Card for Children here: https:// stewardship.adventist.org/simplified-children-commitment-card.pdf. (See card above)