Let the Little Children…Give Part 3
I asked for your ideas on how you encourage generosity…and you delivered. Here are some great ideas that you can implement pretty easily.
Rev. Jeremy Hajdu-Paulen helps build generosity in kids through children’s sermons, talking about and visually showing the impact of a giving heart. In addition, during Vacation Bible School children were invited to bring quarters in for a “showers and laundry” ministry housed at Tigard UMC. By the end of the week, with a full jar of quarters, a staff person from the host organization, “Just Compassion,” met with the children to tell them what their quarters would do for the homeless and (this is important) to thank them.
Many years ago, Rev. Susan Boegli helped kids understand the parable of the talents by giving each child in a Sunday School class five dollars to be given away. The child was to multiply the dollars so that more money could be donated to their chosen non-profit. Some made things or baked goods and sold them. Some did extra chores. For some kids, it became a friendly competition. They also made a poster letting the congregation know what their project was and the impact their donations made.
“Messy Church” has some ideas that can be used inter-generationally or just with kids. Thanks to Rev. Roberta Egli for sending these along:
- Take home charity container: Decorate a pot (tube/jar/box) with decorations that reflect the charity you’re supporting and take it home to fill it with donations to bring back in a month’s time.
- Treasure Chest: Decorate a small box to resemble a treasure chest. Fill with stickers or small candies and write on it ‘Store up your treasures in heaven’ (Matthew 6:20, CEV). Invite kids to “store up some treasure in heaven” by being generous and sharing the stickers and sweets with others.
- Seeds of generosity: Plant sunflower, tomato or other seeds in individual pots that each child decorates. Children can take them home and nurture the shoots and seedlings with a view to bringing them back in a month and holding a plant sale to raise money for a chosen cause.
Greg Nelson, Director of Communication for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference, wanted people to (rightly) remember that children should be involved in tithing directly to their church. “Building projects, local missions, and the weekly offering can be part of learning for young people. And that way they see themselves supporting the things their parents and role models are supporting.”
An excellent resource that has been mentioned here before is the United Methodist “Gratefully Generous” guide (with a free download here). One of the articles is, “Let the Children Give.”
Finally, Rev. Jill Plant from Madras, Oregon told the sweet story of how a boy started “BackPack Buddies” at her church. A third grade boy, “Joey,” told his parents about a conversation he had with some classmates. It was the day before a long weekend and everyone was talking about how excited they were not to have school for three days. But one student shared that he wasn’t so excited because he wouldn't have enough food to eat without the breakfast and lunch provided by the school. Joey and his family decided to tell the story at Madras UMC that Sunday. Two women heard the story and decided to look for ways the congregation could respond. Within six months, the BackPack Buddies weekend food program was born. It started out serving 15 students each weekend. Six years later, the program has grown to serving 57 students every weekend and has expanded to include another school district. The youth group has taken the lead on packing the bags each week alongside congregation members. All because third-grader Joey cared.
Our hearts may be breaking with the weight of the world’s news. But children, with our guidance, have the opportunity to raise our spirits with their generosity and help make the world a better place. Perhaps we should let them take the lead and we’ll follow them.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She nominates “Kid President” to be head honcho. She was 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. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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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.