Today’s churches need members who are generous with their time, energy and money to effectively minister in Christ’s name.
In a recent Barna Highlight, researcher George Barna writes: “Fostering a culture of generosity in your church can be challenging and uncomfortable. But … the work you do today can pay dividends for decades.” His research shows that “Christians whose parents were generous during their childhood are more likely to highly value generosity as adults.”
How can Christian parents today model generosity for their children and teach them to give to others?
Setting an example
Through their own example, the Rodda family modeled and taught their children to be generous. The couple, who struggled with infertility during their first 13 years of marriage as well as a failed adoption attempt, became state-licensed foster parents.
“Well-meaning folks cautioned us many times not to become foster parents because we could face terrible [emotional] pain,” Stephanie Rodda said. “I always answered them the same way: ‘What it could do for them is more important than what it could do to me.’”
She became concerned when she considered the overwhelming needs represented by the foster care system, asking God: “What would You have me do in the face of such great need?”
God impressed upon her a clear answer: “Just give them a cup of water.”
Stephanie believes “sometimes the smallest gifts are the most generous gifts we can give. I did my best and trusted God with the rest.”
For the past 15 years the Roddas have fostered dozens of children, adopting seven of them, including several older children.
Through selfless love, care, fostering and adopting children, the Roddas gave dozens of children an example of sincere generosity.
They also taught their children to focus on those less fortunate. As a large family of both fostered and adopted young children, each one learned to share toys, clothes and mom’s attention.
The Roddas took the older children and teens to visit foster care group homes and homeless shelters, providing real life examples of ministering compassionately with their time and talents.
How to raise generous children
It takes time, effort and energy, but the results of modeling and teaching generosity to children will not only bless those receiving the ministry, but the churches where they, as adults, will one day serve. Here are some practical suggestions:
- Involve children in the family’s giving or helping situations. One mother asks her children, “How do you think we could help this person?”
- Teach kindness, generosity and compassion. A grandmother and her granddaughter often stand at the grocery store cash register to give money to struggling young mothers who can’t pay their entire grocery bill.
- Tithe as a family, and encourage children to place a portion of their own money in the offering plate during worship services.
- Involve children in church and community Christmas programs that collect canned food, clothes and toys for the needy.
- Host a yard sale and mark everything “free.”
- Teach children to be grateful, thanking God for shelter, food, warmth, family and friends.
- During family mealtime prayers and devotional time, pray for those less fortunate.
- If possible, donate cars, furniture, clothes and other essential items to needy families in your church or community, inviting children to take part.
- Teach young children a basic financial system that shows how to budget money, encouraging them to give a portion to the church, needy individuals, missionaries and Christian organizations. Let them earn money doing simple chores, and show them how to give from it generously.
- Let children participate in saving money to give to church missions emphases.
- During Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, volunteer as a family at soup kitchens and other charities that feed, clothe and encourage the homeless and needy.
- Choose Scripture verses that encourage generosity; read to children biblical stories that show Jesus’ compassionate and loving generosity.
One Christian father, who purposely taught his five children to be generous, said, “Seeing what I hoped to instill in my kids come to fruition and how, as adults, they have blessed others, is simply inspiring.”
When Christian parents and grandparents model and practice generosity, and when they teach their children and grandchildren to be compassionate and sensitive to the needs of those less fortunate, generosity becomes a family lifestyle, one that is passed on from generation to generation.
Scripture encourages generosity
- 2 Corinthians 8:1–7
- 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
- 2 Corinthians 9:11: “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
- 2 Corinthians 9:13: “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for our generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”
Denise George is author of 31 nonfiction books. Her passion is helping new writers through her online Facebook group: Christian Writers for Life. Website: www.denisegeorge.org. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org