Raising the Next Generation to be Grateful and Generous

Children are one of God's greatest gifts. We strive to raise them to be compassionate, appreciative, and kindhearted. As a church we promise to love and nurture them in Christ. One of our responsibilities as communities of faith is to teach our children how to recognize God's abundant gifts of grace, to be grateful for what they have been given, and to be generous. Here are a few ideas to help as we develop the next generation of stewards.

1. Help children see that God has given them many blessings. (This also teaches good self-esteem.)

  • Create a list: fill a whiteboard with the things that students see gifts from God. There is no wrong answer!
  • Complement students throughout the year on their special gifts: simple things like being a good listener or being able to make others laugh. Remind them that this special gift is a blessing from God and offer ideas on how they can be grateful for and share that gift with someone else.
  • Have a talent search: turn students into talent scouts, having them interview one another in search of talents, such as being a good singer, artistic, or athletic.
  • “Show & Tell”: have each student bring in a picture of one (or more) of their blessings.

2. Teach children to be grateful to God for the blessings He has given us. (This also teaches an overall sense of gratitude and a positive outlook on life. It helps kids see that the cup is half full rather than half empty.)

  • Have students write prayers of thanksgiving.
  • Have students write thank-you letters to God, telling Him why His gifts are so special to them and what the students will do with those gifts.
  • Help children to see that God has given them blessings to share. Discuss the poor and needy. Talk about how God has trusted us to use our gifts to help those who have less.
  • Encourage students to think about and prayer for others, especially those less fortunate.
  • Read the Beatitudes. Discuss all the ways people are in need and what students could do to help.

3. Show students how stewardship has built our Church. (This also teaches appreciation and responsibility for our Church.)

  • Have students learn the history of the church and the role stewardship played in building it into what it is today. Older students can present this story for younger ones in a play or a puppet show. Be sure to mention any members who left bequests to the church and what those gifts enabled the church to do.
  • Tour church facilities looking for signs of stewardship.
  • Have students research the history of the Moravian Church. Point out moments of stewardship.
  • Have students research people in the Bible and discuss the ways they were good stewards, using their time, talent and treasure for God.

4. Help students recognize that stewardship is an identity, not a task. It is how we live our lives. Every decision we make about how we use our time or treasure is a stewardship decision. (This also teaches good time management and budgeting.)

  • Have students keep a journal – How much time do they give to God in prayer? How much time to they spend learning – developing knowledge and talents they can use later for God? How much time do they spend helping others? How much time do they spend taking care of themselves so they are strong and healthy for God’s work? How much time do they waste?
  • Talk about shopping decisions, about how we can waste money when others need it. Discuss the concept of the tithe – of giving 10% back to God. Discuss the difference between something we need and something we want. We may need cleats to be part of the field hockey team, but having the most expensive or popular brand is a “want”, not a “need.”

5. Help students experience the joy that comes from stewardship. (This also helps students realize that real happiness cannot be found in possessions.)

  • Help students create a plan to practice stewardship every day for a week (or month), identifying simple acts of gratitude and generosity they can enact. Spend time discussing their experiences and how they felt as they were intentional about stewardship.
  • Expand the students' individual efforts to include their families (families create stewardship "plans" for a month).
  • Share your own stewardship experiences.
  • Include intentions in liturgies – “Help us to know the joy that comes from serving you.”
  • Make sure students are involved in the church's stewardship routines and practices.

What does your church do to involve children in its stewardship ministry? Please send activities and ideas to Laura Watson, Director for Faith and Philanthropy.

(We thank St. Pius Catholic Church for sharing some of their children's stewardship ministry ideas with us for this article.)