Presbyterians Today

NOV-DEC 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 43 A kid-friendly spiritual discipline In her book Giving Together: A Stewardship Guide for Families, Carol A. Wehrheim says that we serve by using our time and talents for acts of mercy and social action, and we give to share our financial resources and material goods. As with any spiritual discipline, acts of generosity must become a part of life. Parents who worship with their children model the importance of giving time to their faith commu- nity. Serving among the various ministries provides opportunities to connect them to biblical teachings. "The role of the family in nurtur- ing children to be generous financial stewards cannot be underplayed," Wehrheim said, adding that children who participate in giving to the church continue that spiritual disci- pline as adults. Pam Greer-Ullrich is the former director of public relations for the Presbyterian Foundation. The money went to Take 5, a local organization providing clothing and haircuts for local kids. At First United Presbyterian Church in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, the congregation collects small change and bills on Quarter Sunday and designates the money for the local food pantry. Children collect the offering in metal buckets, making the collection noisy and fun. Parents encourage their children to bring money for the offering, and congregation members enjoy making the buckets "ring" when they drop their money in the buckets. "For our children, it's an impor- tant reminder that we need to think about the needs of everyone in our community," said the Rev. Phil Beck, pastor of First United Presbyterian in Tarentum. "It helps that this is fun, and noisy, and a little chaotic. The children's joy in collecting the offering and bringing it forward is just a delight to witness." Northminster Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis made the Joyful Noise pail a weekly fixture in the front of the church so the children can drop their coins in when they come forward for chil- dren's time during the worship hour. "Noisy offerings serve as a reminder that when we give to God, we make a joyful noise," Struensee said. Beyond Sunday morning The Bible has a lot to say about generosity as an important charac- ter trait, and being generous is one of the most important principles a parent can model for their children beyond the church setting. "When kids see parents giving and helping, it becomes more natural for them to begin giving and helping," Struensee said. When someone becomes a parent, it is an opportune time for them to look within and evaluate their ideas about generosity and how they model generosity. It's an ideal time to determine what values they want to pass along to the next generation. "Teaching children is 20 percent teaching and 80 percent living what you hope they learn," said Minner Serovy, the Presbyterian Foundation's ministry relations officer for the Upper Midwest Region. "Children are uncannily astute at noticing when our own actions don't match what our mouths speak. They are mimickers, and they'll repeat behaviors that get a response. It will be difficult to teach things that you don't believe and practice yourself." Telling children why adults are giving is just as important as showing children how to give. "It's important to also share your reasons for giving a portion of your paycheck back to God through the church for its missions and minis- tries," Serovy said. Giving, though, also goes beyond money. For example, caring for the earth is another important part of stewardship. "Parents should be intentional about engaging their children in environmental responsibility. Recycling at home, planting a veg- etable garden, walking or bicycling instead of driving for short errands, and planting a tree in your local park are all things that you can do to raise awareness of the environ- ment," Serovy said. TALKING MONEY WITH CHILDREN In The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving, Ellen Sabin offers the following questions to help begin a conversation with a child about money: » Who shared with you? What did they share? » Who taught you something? What did they teach? » Who showed you love? How did they show love? » Who made you happy? How did they make you happy? » What can you share and teach? To whom can you show love, and who can you make happy today? Stewardship can be woven into the fabric of our Christian education programs and throughout all of church life. — Gina Struensee

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