Presbyterians Today

NOV-DEC 2018

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42 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay "It was a great way to talk about tithing, as some of the children gave all their money away and didn't leave any for living expenses," Struensee said. The activity was a great conversation starter at home too. "Many of our parents are still talking about it," she said. Loud can be good Many churches use what they call "noisy offerings" to involve children and to help them learn the impor- tance of giving to others. Northminster Presbyterian Church in Ames, Iowa, uses its noisy coin collection to fund food mission projects in the community. On one Sunday each month, the youngest children walk up and down the aisle with metal coffee cans that make lots of noise as members drop their coins in. The average collection is around $200. First Presbyterian Church of Oshkosh in Wisconsin has what it calls "Joyful Noise" offerings. A recent offering, to the children's surprise, got a huge boost when the church's Service Club — a group of members who volunteer their help wherever there is a need — added $500 to the $341 already collected in what was 20 pounds of coins. Gina Struensee, director of Christian education at First Presbyterian Church in Neenah, Wisconsin, has this advice: Start young. It doesn't take long for children to recognize the value of money. In a 2018 study, psychologists at Purdue University found that by age 3, children can grasp basic money concepts. By age 7, money habits that will follow children into adult- hood have been formed. "The younger the parents start, the better," she said, adding that the church can be integral in nurturing generous givers. "Stewardship can be woven into the fabric of our Christian educa- tion programs and throughout all of church life," Struensee said. "It would be amazing if the culture of every church involved the whole congregation in discussion, classes and opportunities for stewardship activities throughout the year — not just during the annual 'campaign.' " While most children and youth will not have significant financial resources to give, Struensee said, it is still important that the church engage and expose kids to activi- ties of generosity and stewardship education. Get children involved A few years ago, First Presbyterian in Neenah let the children take over the church's Heifer International program, deciding for themselves what animal to buy and how to raise the money. The kids took a vote on the congregation's fundraising options and decided a bake sale was the best method. The children then orga- nized the bake sale, asking various members to provide the goodies. Afterwards, they counted the money raised and presented the results to the church. Not only did it give children a sense of ownership, but "it taught them how to handle money in general," Struensee said. The church also played a game with children in second grade and up called "Where Does Your Money Go?" The game, Struensee said, prompted conversations with the children about how and where to spend their money and the impor- tance of generosity and giving back to God. The game started with each child being given an envelope contain- ing a different amount of toy money to represent their monthly income. Four baskets were then labeled with causes relevant to the children: repair of tornado damage in their hometown, purchasing new iPads for Sunday school, balancing the church budget and giving to Heifer International. Two other baskets were labeled "living expenses" and "other." After the teacher described each of the baskets and explained that the money in the envelope was the children's monthly income, they were asked to decide and record how much money they would place in each basket. THE STU BEAR BOOK RETURNS The Ecumenical Stewardship Center is republishing Stu Bear: A Story About Stewardship for Young Children, a full-color book in which Stu Bear learns about giving from children he meets at home, at church and in the community. Stu Bear was created by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1995 to teach young children about stewardship. Recently, the Ecumenical Stewardship Center received permission to reprint Stu Bear resources and to create new ones using the Stu Bear character. The anticipated release date is November 2018. For more information, visit the Ecumenical Stewardship Center at stewardshipresources.org. TOY BOX LESSONS When a toy box gets too full, ask children to help clean it out and give some toys away. Use it as a teaching moment to emphasize the generos- ity of family and friends who give gifts, and the importance of sharing with other children, who may not receive such gifts. The same goes with clothes. Have children organize clothes that no longer fit into a box to give to a church clothes closet or local charity. Let the children tag along when you drop off the box so they can see how the process works.

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