Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Children & Offering

Last night I was sitting with my kids during family VBS, and before they were dismissed to their classes, the worship leader explained to the children, "Well, it looks like the boys are ahead of the girls by only $1 in our efforts to raise money for Pioneer Bible Translators!" The boys cheered. The girls were not distraught, though. They had another day to bring their offerings and attempt to beat the boys in this friendly competition for a good cause.

By the end of the night, however, the girls were almost $40 ahead of the boys. That total alone was about three times as much as they raised the night before. I remember looking over at one little girl as her mom handed her a $5 bill and told her to run over to the offering bucket for the girls.

I have mixed feelings about this. It's great that the adults want to help out a good cause - and in some way show by example the importance of giving. But honestly I feel that the children should be taught how to give from their own earnings.

They should be taught that everything we have is not our own. God provides it all. And through our hard work, we give back a portion to ministries and opportunities that present themselves to us.

In Caleb's Sunday school class, they have been given small boxes to take home and fill up with change for an organization called Sweet Sleep. They provide beds to orphans but also provide life-saving mosquito nets to protect them from malaria through their "Nickels for Nets" program.

When I asked him about the box, he said he needed to put coins in it. He also said something like, "I guess I'll have to do more work!"

He knows this only because Josh and I do not hand him money for offering that he has not earned himself. When he was much smaller, he showed up many times without anything to give on a Sunday morning, because we had not set up a chore chart/earning chart yet. I just didn't feel like I was teaching him anything if I gave him the money to hand over at offering time.

But that might just be me.

I do not have any negative thoughts towards the mom I saw who gave her little girl $5 to take to the girls bucket. Not at all. I know it's common, and for small children who don't have an earning system in place at home, I can see why parents might do this. I'm not sure if the concept of giving is effectively taught in that way, though.

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

Let's teach our children how to cheerfully give of themselves without handing them a quarter at offering time. Let's see how much more it means when they earn it themselves and understand that they are giving back what God has given them.


Tiffany said...

Chrissy~ I completely agree. It kind of makes me uneasy to hear about the competition part, too. Although I know that the camp Jim and I worked at would often do that. I just am not sure if that is teaching the right message either. God commands us to give with a cheerful heart, and we are giving to HIM, not for man's praise. So I am concerned what it teaches children to give something they haven't earned in an effort to beat out others. Make sense? Hmmm. Great post!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you and Tiffany! I think children should be taught right away to give cheerfully of their earnings, not of their parents. It also helps if they see us giving cheerfully! :) I too do not really care for the competition thing, but see it many times! At the end of the camp/VBS do the kids walk away and say "wow, we raised $200 for such and such ministries"? or do they say "cool, girls won!"?? How about teaching our children to give with cheerful hearts and then encouraging them to do so! We really need to start focusing on being others-centered and less self-centered!!!! (oops, sorry, I almost wrote my own blog post here!) :)

marielamar said...

I agree with the two previous commenters. I know that my children are too likely to get swept up in the competition of things, and forget about the giving itself.

accesskas27 said...

I agree as well. I think if a parent encourages the child to give only because they are going to win a contest that we are not really teaching them what true giving is. Mike and I do the same thing as far as offering. They take 10% of what they earned from their allowance that week and they take that as their offering.

I think above all they should be excited about giving, and they will only be that way if they see their parents excited to give. If that mom had given her child $5 and made it clear to the child that it was because she wanted them to give more to God, and not about winning.. I don't know that I see anything wrong with that. Like you said maybe that child wasn't earning anything on their own.

There are times that Mike lets joe and sam help put our tithe in the offering plate. Mike is always sure to explain that we give out of what God has given us and that we are obeying God by doing this.

I just hope that they get how important it is to give to God... and give cheerfully! :-)

Puddleduck Bunch said...

Sweet Sleep - what a neat organization! I'm so happy to hear about it - Thanks for sharing! :)

Mom of Many said...

Hope this comes out sounding right. We have taught our children that they must tithed from any money they receive, birthday money, gift cards, etc. We don't give the kids money for chores they do (please go easy on me for that), but it's something we have never done. With that being said, most Sundays they don't have any money to give at church, so we usually give them a dollar, here recently a quarter, to give as an offering. For us, tithes and offerings are two different things, each of which should be done with a cheerful heart. We feel that tithes is 10% of what you have earned. An offering is a gift you are giving above/in addition to your tithes. Ex: Hubby and I owe $40 in tithes this week. We give $50, $10 being an offering. When we give the children money, we are trying to teach them that even though they didn't get money that week, they should still give an offering. Found this link that talks about the difference between the two. http://www.isaiah58.com/TITHES.HTM

Sarah said...

I guess I don't have a strong feeling about that for little ones. We don't have a earnings system in place (although my son has been asking recently and we need to get something going). My daughter LOVES to round up the change she can find around the house and give it as her offering. I don't discourage it, because she truly has a joyful heart in doing it (and never forgets) and you should watch her, watch the plate to make sure it isn't going to miss her :)

But I totally understand your point!

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