Being a Cheerful Giver

A favorite Christmas movie turns into a biblical lesson plan on stewardship.
plush grinch with a latte

2 Corinthians 9: 6-8
Luke 6:38

This lesson combines discussion about generous people with thinking about having a big heart by watching the animated movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”  It connects the biblical foundation in 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8 to how people act when they are generous cheerful givers.

Intergenerational Stewardship Lesson Plan
Created by Dr. Diane E. Shallue

Lesson summary

This lesson combines discussion about generous people with thinking about having a big heart by watching the animated movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”  It connects the biblical foundation in 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8 to how people act when they are generous cheerful givers.


This lesson is designed to be used with a mixed age group with children as young as six.  It is for parents, grandparents, children, and single adults who could bring their nieces and nephews.  The time frame is about 50 -60 minutes.  It would be especially appropriate to be used during Advent. It could be used during an education hour on Sunday morning or a Saturday morning time with a brunch.

Lesson Focus 

God wants us to be cheerful givers with large generous hearts.  How do people with generous hearts act?  What are their qualities?

Materials needed

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated movie)
  • Bibles on each table
  • Table signs for Table Talk Time
  • TV & VCR or DVD
  • Name tags

Objectives of this lesson

1. To be able to describe the actions of a person who is a generous giver;
2. To reflect on the actions of the Grinch who had a heart that was two sizes too small;
3. To realize that God wants us to be cheerful givers.

Biblical Foundation

2 Corinthians 9:6-8  “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each of you must do as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”  (NRSV)

Other possible biblical passage:  Luke 6:38  “give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap;  for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”  (NRSV)

Biblical Background

When we think of generosity, we might look at the size of the gift or the nobility of the cause.  But Jesus measured generosity by a radically new standard: the condition of the giver’s heart. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  So, giving is more than an obligation for followers of Christ; it is an exciting opportunity to lay up treasure that will last for all eternity. “The Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35b).

Movie Background

This movie was released in December 1966 as a TV special.  The color animated movie is 26 minutes long.  It was released in 2006 as a DVD.  Bitter and hateful, the Grinch is irritated at the thought of the nearby village having a happy time celebrating Christmas. So disguised as Santa Claus, with his dog made to look like a reindeer, he raids the village to steal all the Christmas things. The village is sure to have a sad Christmas this year.

Narrator opens with:  “Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not. The Grinch hated Christmas – the whole Christmas season. Oh, please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. Or maybe his head wasn’t screwed on just right. But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”

Narrator towards the end of the movie:  “And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches plus two.”

Room Set up

Have the room arranged with tables and chairs with the discussion questions on stand up signs in the middle of each table.  Ask each person to put on a name tag as they arrive.  To watch the movie, move to another area.  It is important to have movement for the sake of children.  You could stay in that movie area for the reflection on the movie and the final prayer and dismissal.

Introduction (5 minutes)

Begin by saying,  “Today we are going to talk about having a generous heart and being a cheerful giver.  First find out who is at your table.  Please share your name and a favorite gift you have ever received.  (Give people 5 minutes to share their names and favorite gift. You could also encourage them to use the Mutual Invitation Technique for the discussion.  See the Overview for details on the MI Technique.)

Table Talk Time

Then continue, “At your tables, you will see a stand up sign up two questions.  Tell the other people in your group about the most generous person you know and  how you know they are generous.” (Give about 10 minutes for this discussion time.)

Bible reading (5 minutes)

Assign one person at each table to read 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.

Table Talk Time

Ask each table to discuss this question, “What word or phrase stands out as the Bible passage was read?”

Movie Introduction (If possible, move to another area to watch the movie.)

“Our focus today is finding out how people with big generous hearts act.   How would a person act who does not have a big generous heart?  We are going to watch a movie about a person whose heart was two sizes too small but something happened to change his heart.  I want each of you to find out who in this movie had a generous heart and who had a heart that was too small.”

Watch the movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (30 minutes)

Large Group Discussion (15 minutes)

After the movie, discuss these questions.

  1. Whose heart was too small?
  2. Instead of giving what did the Grinch do?
  3. The people still sang to welcome Christmas even when there was no food or gifts.  Why do you think they did that?
  4. Why could the Grinch not stop Christmas?
  5. What happened to the heart of the Grinch?
  6. How did his behavior change because of his change of heart?

Bible reinforcement (10 minutes)

Read the Bible passage again.  How can we be cheerful givers with big generous hearts?  How do people act who have big generous hearts?  What is this Bible passage calling you to be, to change or to do?

Closing and prayer (5 minutes)

Ask the group — “What did you learn today?”  Ask a couple of people to share their responses to the whole group.  This is a good way to summarize the learning of the day.

Then thank people for coming and participating today.  Say, “Let us close with a prayer.”
Either read this prayer or ask the whole group to read it with you.
“Lord, help us to be cheerful givers with large generous hearts.  Amen”

Optional Ideas

These ideas could be used to tie  this lesson into the a fall stewardship campaign or budget process.   In most congregations, people under the age of 20 are not involved in budget discussions nor do they have any understanding of the way that money is used in the congregation.

1. Cut out hearts and write on them the various areas of the church budget and the amount that is needed in each budget area.  Create a bulletin board with this information . You could use drawings from How the Grinch Stole Christmas to reinforce this lesson and title the bulletin board, ” Don’t be a Grinch.  Give generously from a big heart.”

2. Cut out heart shapes to give to other members of the congregation to wear on pledge Sunday.

3. Stencil hearts on pledge cards and ask the children to pass them out during worship.

4. Have Sunday School classes carve potatoes into heart shaped stamps and stamp the envelopes into which the pledge cards would be placed.  Use colored ink pads or sponges with tempera paint.

5. Create a sharing jar for each household to have at home.  Create heart decorations to go around the jar.  The jar should sit on a table or counter and each day change is put into it. The group of children (maybe a sixth grade Sunday School class) could decide on an organization to whom to give this collection as a benevolence gift.  This money could be collected on a Sunday close to Valentine’s Day when generous hearts could be celebrated.  Tie this activity to the story about Samuel choosing David to be king in 1 Samuel 16:7.


Dr. Diane E. Shallue is the Director of Christian Education at University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis, MN.

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