Increasing Generosity with a Bible, Hymn, Storybook, and Picture
News Flash. It’s cold in Alaska in February. Like 20 degrees kind of cold. But that didn’t stop 60-plus folks from having their “hearts strangely warmed” (thanks for coming up with that J. Wesley!) at the recent “Creating Congregational Cultures of Generosity” (CCCG for the hip) gathering in Chugiak. I want to thank the good folks in Alaska for their awesome hospitality – and I want to give them extra props for arranging a special showing of Denali for the tourists. Nicely done!
There is so much to learn through a CCCG training – lots of interesting facts, figures, theological insights, and practical tools. When I first started being trained in the CCCG Way, there was one set of statistics that I found most intriguing. Though the study done by Robert Wuthnow of 1,530 random-sampled adults is rather old (1999, ahem, so last century) it still piqued my interest:
“Religious upbringing has a positive effect on giving.” Hmmm…that’s obvious. But here’s where the surprises comes in:
Having a special Bible as a child increases giving to one’s congregation as an adult on average by $216.
Having had hymns or other religious music that were special to a child raises it by $221.
Having a Bible storybook raises it by $258.
Having a favorite religious picture or object as a child increases giving by $280.
Merely attending religious services had no residual effect…it was the religious ambience in the home that mattered most.
(To read more, see Wuthnow’s 2004 follow-up paper “Faith and Giving – from Christian Charity to Spiritual Practice”)
This is heartening news and reinforces why churches continually need to reach out to the next generation. What you do as a congregation in the life of a child matters. It matters to the heart and it makes for more generous adults. So what can you do to sow the seeds of generosity in a child?
Give a presentation Bible. Make it a big deal. Celebrate it as a milestone in a child’s life.
Buy or produce a CD with your church’s favorite hymns and/or praise songs and give it to kids in your congregation.
Present a cross or a drawing of Jesus to each child…during worship. It’s that special.
When a child reaches a certain age, present parents or guardians with a Bible storybook to read aloud. Have a time of prayer for those families.
Perhaps most importantly, support parents by providing classes and resources on ways to pass on their faith to their children in a loving and meaningful way.
Who knew that a Bible, hymn, Bible storybook, or favorite picture could have such an impact on becoming generous? You know now…
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She was totally bummed out that she didn't see Russia or wrestle a polar bear when she was in Alaska. Next time. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.