Children and youth are typically given little attention in relation to worship through giving. The reasons range from, “They are only children,” to “They don’t have any money.” But children and youth are still members of the Body of Christ. Our children and youth are part of our church today, so there must be intentionality in integrating our younger members into worship and in creating worship through giving. This can be done in a way that helps children understand that giving is an act of worship. It is incumbent upon church leaders and parents to develop the next generation of generous supporters of the church. Otherwise young people will never connect faith and money, or money with worship.
Using the children’s message in worship to discuss generosity has the potential to impact the entire congregation. Parents and grandparents always pay close attention to what is being taught to their loved ones, so it becomes a teachable moment for the entire family. If the entire family hears the message together, it creates opportunities for further discussion. I would encourage a children’s stewardship message at least once a quarter, just as I would recommend a quarterly stewardship sermon for the adults. The messages can be shared on the same day, using the same scriptural text, thus allowing the family to embrace the same message.
For churches that have separate children’s or youth worship, there must be intentionality in celebrating the offering for their service. Having the same theme or message as the adult service develops continuity. Remember the verse, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” (Proverbs 22:6) Further, children of today have financial resources that past generations did not possess, thus making this an opportune time to teach biblical stewardship and the celebration of the offering.
Today, many children and youth have their own money. They either have part-time jobs or receive an allowance from their parents. It is important for them to understand that everything belongs to God, and that they are to honor God with a tithe of all their allowance or earnings. Helping them to understand biblically that they are to give, irrespective of their age, is vitally important in developing the next generation of generous givers. Adults, children and youth must see you place more than a token dollar bill in the offertory plate weekly. If you support the church by making electronic contributions, consider placing something extra in the plate each week, so they will understand the difference between a tithe or proportionate gift, and an offering, which is over and above our regular giving.
Allow young believers to participate in the lifting of the offering by reading offering meditations and scripture as members present their tithes and offerings, not just on Children’s Sunday or Youth Sunday, but in the context of regular Sunday worship as well. This displays that they are participants in worship, but more importantly it helps them connect faith and money while celebrating the offering. Also, their peers see their witness through these readings.
By: Melvin Amerson
THE REV. MELVIN AMERSON IS A MEMBER OF THE TEXAS ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND SERVES AS A RESOURCE SPECIALIST/AREA REPRESENTATIVE AT TMF. HIS EXPERIENCE AND PASSION LIE IN ENCOURAGING AND DEVELOPING GENEROUS, FAITHFUL LEADERS AND CONGREGATIONS.
AMERSON IS THE AUTHOR OF CELEBRATING THE OFFERING, FRUIT FOR CELEBRATING THE OFFERING AND STEWARDSHIP IN AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCHES: A NEW PARADIGM, AS WELL AS SEVERAL ARTICLES COVERING TOPICS FROM GENEROSITY, LEADERSHIP AND VISIONING. CURRENTLY, HE SERVES AS A BOARD MEMBER OF THE ECUMENICAL STEWARDSHIP CENTER AND IS A NATIONALLY-RECOGNIZED GENEROSITY CONSULTANT KNOWN FOR HIS ENGAGING PRESENTATIONS.