All My Stuff Belongs to God: Stewardship for Kids
“Mine!” 2-year-old Jessica shouts as she snatches the stuffed bear from another child’s hand. At age 2, Jessica thinks everything she sees and wants is hers. This is normal age-appropriate thinking and behavior for a 2-year-old, but if encouraged and indulged, Jessica will probably grow up to be a selfish, self-centered adult.
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up I put away childish things,” 2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT. One of the “things” includes a selfish attitude. As we grow and mature we realize that everything is not ours and, as a matter of fact, it is all God’s. According to Psalms 24:1, God owns everything. All the land, all the water, all the buildings, all the cars, all the houses, all the “everything” belongs to God. And He wants us to take care of it all.
Stewardship is taking care of something one does not own. From teaching toddlers to pick up toys to involving preteens in mission projects, we train our children that it’s all God’s and He has given us the privilege to take care of it for Him. Teaching and training children to be responsible stewards begins in the nursery and continues throughout our lives.
IDEAS YOU CAN USE
How can I help children become good stewards?
- Encourage a sharing attitude by providing practical opportunities for children to share.
- Snack time. Give half of the children a snack that can be easily divided into two portions.
- Ask the children with snacks what they can do to make sure that everyone has a snack.
- Activity time. Have children work in groups and share supplies rather than working individually.
- Sharing projects. Give children opportunities to share their gently used clothing, toys and books with needy children in the community.
- Involve children in decision making regarding giving projects.
- Share a specific need with the children and let them brainstorm ways that they could help meet that need. Then as a group choose which would be the best way then begin working together to meet the need.
- If the entire congregation is involved in a giving project, let the children determine how they will raise funds or what specific aspect of the project they will contribute to.
- Share Bible truths related to stewardship. Use Bible stories to illustrate these truths. For example:
- Bible truth: When I give generously I work with God to accomplish His plans.
- Bible story: The Israelites Give of Their Possessions and Abilities to Build the Tabernacle, Exodus 35
- Emphasize the importance of giving to the local church. Many times we allow children to focus on specific giving and sharing projects but do not encourage them to give to the local church. But it is also important that our children learn that their offerings are needed within the local church so that the church can continue providing ministry to them and to others.
- Weekly offerings. Consistently give children an opportunity to give weekly. Each week share one of the ways their offerings are being used—building maintenance, supplies and equipment, provision for specific ministries, etc.
- Prayer time for the local church. Let the children work with you to make a list of all the great activities they have experienced in the local church (i.e. fellowship dinners, musicals or plays, festivals, campouts, Bible school, etc.) Then talk about the ways the local church has changed the lives of people in the congregation, community, and around the world. Add these to your list. Remind the children that as they give and serve in the local church they are helping these things come about. Pray together for the local church’s ministry and mission.
I Give My Time
Supplies: several different kinds of clocks, pictures of children doing different activities.
Activity: Show clocks and talk about how we do things at different times during the day. Ask children what they do during the day.
Example: During the morning time we get up, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, go to day care, etc. At noon we eat lunch, take a nap, play. In the evening we eat dinner, play with our moms and dads, go to bed. Show pictures of children praying, going to church and reading the Bible. Tell the children we have lots of things we do everyday and we should always have a time to spend praying and listening to God’s Word, the Bible. Give each child a clock face to decorate and color. Let children glue pictures of things they do each day on the clock or draw pictures of things they do. Make sure they include a picture of praying, a Bible or a church.
Tell the Bible story: Daniel Takes Time to Pray, Daniel 6. Focus on Daniel’s faithfulness to pray.
Brainstorm with kids and list things they do during the day. Print these on poster board or a large piece of paper so that everyone can see the list. Give each child 4 note cards. Ask them to choose 4 activities from the list that are important to them to do each day, list activities on the cards – one activity per card. Read Ephesians 5:15-16. Give them one more card that is a different color that has “Use Your Time Wisely” Ephesians 5:15-16 written on it. Talk about the most wise thing we can do is spend time with God each day. Challenge children to spend time with God and use their “time cards” as a reminder.
I Use My Abilities to Help Others
Involve the children in planning and presenting a talent show for the seniors in your congregation, residents of a nearby nursing home, or the members of a local senior citizen’s center. Read 1 Peter 4:10 aloud. Discuss what gifts and talents are and that each one has a gift God has given him so that he can serve others. Help each child discover a way he/she can be involved in the talent show by using a gift, talent or ability. Remember some of the most important work is done ‘behind the scenes.”
At Every Age Children Can Help Others
In the nursery: Start introducing the value of service by having children do simple tasks such as putting a toy away in a toy box, bringing a needed item to you, or holding a visual or object for you as you share the Bible story.
In preschool ministry: Do simple acts of community service together with children such as collecting food for a food bank.
In elementary ministry:
- Encourage children to write as a way of serving: thank you notes to those who have served them, letters to officials concerning important issues, letters to children of missionaries, etc.
- Teach children that praying for others is a way of serving. Make a list of people in need and lead the children in praying through the list. Keep the list current so that prayer does not become repetitive.
- Encourage older children to volunteer to serve at least one hour a week in their homes, schools, communities, or church. Search out opportunities for them to serve.
I Give Generously
Provide many opportunities for children to give. Here are some suggestions:
- As a group sponsor a needy child. (Visit global.cogop.org to learn about the ONE CHILD FUND.)
- As a group, support a ministry who serves children and children’s ministers. (Click here to find out how your children can participate in HELPING HANDvS FOR KIDS.)
- Let the children respond when there is a crisis in the community that involves children (i.e. house fire, car accident, lengthy illness, loss of job).
- At Christmas, have children pick out one of their toys that they really like and is in good condition and give it to a needy child in your community.
5. Continually look for opportunities for your children to give in the local church, the community, and the world.
Use Bible stories that a young child can relate to when teaching important Bible truths about giving.
Bible Truth: God uses what I give to help others. Bible Story: The Boy Who Gave His Lunch
Bible Truth: God is pleased when I give something that is important to me. Bible Story: The Woman Who Anointed Jesus Feet
Wealth Wisdom – Proverbs 3:9
Wealth is? Let children give their definitions of wealth. Explain that wealth is having more than enough to survive. Help children understand how to use their “wealth” (money) wisely by budgeting. Give each child 4 containers (baby food jars, Pringles cans, etc.). Have them label each container as: Give, Save, Spend, Goal. Give is God’s money, the tithes and offerings that we give back to Him. Save is money that is put away for use in the future. Spend is money that can be spent now on something we want such as candy or a small toy. Goal is saving for a special item such as a bicycle or video game. Give each child ten pennies. Read: Leviticus 27:30 and teach that the first penny goes into the Give container because it belongs to God then encourage the children to divide the rest of the money into containers of their choice.
I Care for the World God Has Made
Help the children think of times when they were kept in the care of someone else. Ask, “When your parents need to be away and can’t take you with them, who do they usually ask to take care of you?” Answers will most likely include grandparents, baby-sitter, neighbors, and friends. “Why do you think your parents chose those people? Why didn’t your parents just pick names out of the phone book and ask those people to care for you?” Their answers will focus on these ideas: (1) children are too important to their parents to be placed in the care of strangers and (2) parents will leave their children only with someone whom they consider reliable, trustworthy, and dependable.
Tell the children that God trusts them to take care of the earth and every living creature on the earth. God’s creation is too important to be left to the care of strangers; namely, those who do not know and worship God. Christians are God’s hands and feet on the earth! Read Psalm 8 to the children. Ask: “What feelings do you experience when you think about everything God created and realize that people are God’s most special creation?” “What does this Psalm tell us about God’s opinion of humans?” God values us, created us just a little lower than God, and crowned us with glory and honor. God placed us in charge of caring for the earth and all living creatures. Ask the children to describe ways in which they care for God’s creation. Encourage the children to think of one way that they could become more involved in caring for God’s creation. Make a list of these suggestions and ask children to do one of them during the coming week.
- Stewardship Foundations Curriculum, by Karyn Henley, Standard Publishing, Cincinnati, PH ISBN 0-7847-1368-5. This 13-week course will help kids, ages 8-11, understand what it means to be a servant, provide biblical examples of how God equips his servants and guides kids to find ways they can serve God and others daily.
- Stu Bear: A story About Stewardship for Young Children. www.pcusa.org/stewardship/children.htm Cost: $1.50 (More contact information) This 24-page square book uses a cuddly bear to teach pre-school children about stewardship.
- Crown Financial Ministries has the following resources for teaching children a biblical viewpoint of handling money. Order from: http://www.crown.org/Cart/Individual/Children.aspx
Resources for All Ages (5-11)
- In God We Trust Children’s Study
Recommended for ages 5-11, this four-week study teaches your children creatively through videos and cds about how to give, save and spend money wisely.
Resources for Infants/Toddlers (Ages 0-7)
- The ABC’s Of Handling Money God’s Way Study
Recommended for ages 5-7, this study teaches children basic principles of working, giving, saving, and spending.
Resources for Children (ages 8-12)
- The Secret of Handling Money God’s Way Children’s Study
Recommended for ages 8-12, this colorful, story-based workbook will engage children as they learn that God’s plan for handling our finances is much better than the world’s way.
- Faithfully Using God’s Stuff, children are taught to use their time, talents, and money for the Lord as acts of good stewardship. The unit includes a talent show. Cost: $15.00 per lesson book. Order from Spiritual Formation Ministries, 54 East Rocks Road, Norwalk, Connecticut 06851, 203.354.0619 (leave message), E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, spiritualformationministries.com
This post was first published in the CM Newsletter Volume 11, Issue 11, November 2007