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Give 'Til It Helps

Scott Kinner

A 7-year-old girl in Indiana gives $27 to help victims of the tsunami disaster in South Asia-that's her entire savings. An 11-year-old boy in Colorado gives his allowance to help the missionaries his church is sponsoring to clean up after a disaster. A 10-year-old boy in California asks his children's pastor how all the kids can give to help out in whatever way possible. Two preteens in Georgia collect 5,000 items to feed thousands of starving people. And an 11-year-old girl commits to giving 20 percent of her allowance to her church.

These are only a few examples of children giving to God in the wake of natural disasters. All these kids went above and beyond the call of duty, giving more than their tithe. They gave completely from the heart.

The Heart of Giving

These children got to the heart of giving. What helped these children sacrifice their time and money to give? Their hearts were broken by a need they saw or experienced. They wanted to make a difference by mending the hearts of others, and they wanted their giving from the heart to touch their world.

A Broken Heart-When children saw the pain and heartache that resulted from the tsunami disaster in South Asia, they saw a tremendous need they could help to meet. To help kids in your church continue to see the needs around them, point to needs in their homes, community, and the world. Keep kids up-to-date on current events, and ask them pointed questions, such as "How does this situation hurt someone?" and "If you were in this situation, how would you feel? What would you do?"

Encourage kids to see life through the eyes of others in need. Lead kids through an imagine session: Imagine that everything you had was suddenly taken away. Imagine that your family didn't have the food or home you're used to having. What would that feel like? Imagine what it would be like if you didn't know Jesus and that happened. What would you hope others would do for you?

Mending Hearts-Tons of children, in response to the tsunami, gave to mend others' broken hearts. That's a key to developing a heart of giving in children: Help them see that their giving can help others all the time. Let's be honest with children. Even though God doesn't need our money (he's that powerful), the church does! God uses our giving to help others. The church needs our money to help others know Jesus. Missionaries need our money to bring hope to the rest of the world. That's the way God set it up. God's work needs God's people's gifts-even children's!

Give kids practical ways they can give. Work together as a group to sponsor a needy child. Give the gift of time and energy as you serve in the community. Help kids discover that any way they give-to the church, to missions, or directly to help others-is a way to touch and mend broken hearts.

Giving From the Heart-Childrensministry.com recently conducted a poll to find out if readers believe giving of tithes should be a stronger value with children. While there are differing opinions on how much God calls Christians to give and where that giving should come from, each respondent agreed that children are, in fact, called to give in meaningful ways.

The large majority of poll-takers, 91 percent, say they believe tithing is an important value for children. One person comments, "I believe tithing is where it all begins. When you tithe, you are trusting God to provide what you need. Children need to know this truth at an early age."

About 9 percent responded that tithing doesn't need to be a stronger value. One dissenting person says, "The Scripture plainly teaches that you are to give with a grateful heart; tithing teaches 'giving because you have to give.' "

The children who gave in the tsunami disaster weren't giving because they had to. They weren't rewarded for bringing an offering to church. They were giving completely from their hearts.

Worshipful Giving

Giving because we have to give, or just giving out of routine, can cause children to lose their heart for giving, and giving from the heart is really the point. It's critical that we give kids a heart to give and a desire to keep on giving.

In Money Matters for Kids, the late Christian financial ex­pert and founder of Christian Financial Concepts, Larry Burkett, says, "Tithing means we give our first fruits to God... the first of our resources, including time, talents, and money."

Perhaps the most powerful demonstration of this value of giving the first fruits is in God's own compassionate sacrifice as he gave his firstborn and only Son for us. That's the example of the true heart of giving that we must help children value, and it's a reason to worship our Lord in giving.

Many of the poll respondents who believe tithing should be a stronger value in children also believe that giving is a necessary part of worship for children. "I believe tithing is one of many ways a follower of Christ [worships] their Lord," says one person. And there are many ways to help kids worship God through giving.

 

  • Atmosphere-Giving is a personal matter for kids to do from their hearts. Allow kids a chance to reflect on their giving. Set up a worshipful atmosphere. Play music and allow kids to quietly pray before they give. Encourage kids to consider what it means to give to God.
  • God's Use of Our Gifts-Discuss how God will use the gifts kids give. Help kids see that what they're doing is affecting other people.
  • Recognizing God's Provision-Lead kids to discover how giving helps us remember that God gave us everything we have. Burkett explains that we aren't really giving for God's sake: "We give our money for our sakes, to remind ourselves we're God's stewards and everything is his."
  • Helping Kids See Results-When you send children's gifts overseas, ask a missionary to send pictures or a letter to show kids how their giving has impacted that area of the world. Have kids deliver money collected to a local charity.
  • Celebration-Celebrate giving. Burkett suggests making giving seem like a party-a thanks party. "I think that when we truly love Jesus, it brings us great joy to tithe and give extra offerings," one poll-taker writes. "It's just plain fun! It truly is joyful and a way we worship our Lord."
  • Giving Tools-Put the giving containers, whether offering trays or buckets, in places that make it easy for kids to give. Some kids may be too shy to walk in front of everyone as they give. Others may forget to stop by the containers to drop in their money. Make it easy for them.
  • No Gimmicks-Don't reward kids for giving. Granted it's nice to encourage kids to give their offerings to the church, and kids do like to receive treats. The major problem gimmicks create, though, is that kids bring their tithes and offerings to get something, not to give.

Try not to reward kids with Bible Bucks or Kidz Kash or anything along those lines. Rewarding children for their giving can undermine the entire principle of giving from the heart. Help them give to give.

Tools for Parents

Equip your children's parents to help children gain a heart for giving.

One reader plainly states, "I believe that tithing is a practice that should be taught by the child's parents." Give parents tools to help them know how to do this.

 

  • Setting an Example-When parents worship the Lord in their giving, children can develop a sense of generosity themselves. The organization Generous Giving suggests that the most important thing parents can do is practice giving so their children can see.
  • Allowances-Encourage parents to give their kids an allowance that can be divided easily. This is a good way for families to practice money management, where 10 percent or more is given to God, 10 percent is put away in savings, and the rest is left over for spending.
  • Money Management-Parents can buy a three-compartment container or make one with their kids. This is an easy way to divide money into the three categories. For more ideas on money management, go to Web Extras at www.cmmag.com.
  • A Heart for Missions-Families can learn about missions in many ways. They can sponsor a child by sending money through an organization such as Compassion International or World Vision, parents can help children send their savings to those who go through natural disasters, or families can work together on a service project in the community.

Second Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." That's reason enough to make giving fun, worshipful, and meaningful! Help kids give until it helps! cm

Scott Kinner is associate editor of Group Publishing's KidsOwn Worship™ and FaithWeaver™ Bible Curriculum in Loveland, Colorado.

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