Stewardship and Young Children: It’s Bigger Than Paper Banks During Lent

Children remind us that stewardship is about way more than money

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girl playing pink guitar

My idea of stewardship as a child was confined to giving money. Our church gave us paper boxes that we constructed in Sunday School and put quarters in throughout Lent. Maybe there was some visual on the box to see what the funds were going to, but I did not understand deeper than that about what my giving meant. Though I think having children collect their coins and dollars to bring in can be a fun and tangible way to begin connecting our giving to our stewardship, it can box us in to thinking about stewardship as only financial giving. 

Stewardship is about the ways we care for and use all that God has entrusted us with, including our time, talents, belongings, money, even our minds, bodies, and our voices. There are many ways that we can teach young children about being good stewards of all that God has given us, but I think a great way to demonstrate this is through example. What might happen if we talked about stewardship, not only in times of financial campaigns, but also when we ask people to volunteer both in and out of the church? What if we were intentional about showing all the ways we use our specific talents – including our bodies, minds, and voices – to help others? 

Promise Cards for Kids

During the time in the church year when, as a congregation, we make our individual financial pledges for the year, one congregation I was involved with also made pledge cards for the children to fill out. 

The list on these cards includes: 

  • Bring coins for the offering
  • Learn the Lord’s Prayer
  • Bring food (can or boxes or jars) to the food shelf
  • Visit someone who is sad, or send them a card

These kid-friendly pledge cards are called Promise Cards, as pledging can be a pretty big concept for a young child. The cards also have some fill in the blank spots for kids to add their own ideas about what they might share at church or in the community. The activity of writing down even one or two things that they can commit to during the year can be helpful, both to connect to what the others around them in the church are doing when they pledge, and also so they can begin to understand that all of these things are gifts that God places in our lives, that we care for and share with others. 

Beyond Collecting Coins

Children can’t always truly understand giving through the quarters that they’ve saved, but they can grasp that God loves them. And we can talk to them about all the love God has for them, and how they can share that love with others, by being kind, helping people, being there for people who are sad, and even by sharing their talents.

People of all ages are very talented and have much to offer to their church and to others. When I was younger, I did many things in my church: played in the church band, taught Sunday School, and I was even on the Evangelism Committee. I didn’t understand all that evangelism is, but loved my church and liked coming up with ideas about how to share it with others. One year I made hundreds of paper boxes to pass out at a parade, filled with some candy and info about the church. Though I didn’t know it then, I was stewarding the gifts God gave me. 

Kids Leading In Worship

Children are part of God’s family, and part of our faith communities. Don’t leave them on the sidelines, or shut them away in the basement. Invite them to participate in the life of your congregation in worship and other aspects of congregational life! Some of the ways that children can participate in worship services include:

  • Sharing their musical talents by singing, dancing, or playing an instrument
  • Reading the lessons by themselves or with a sibling, parent, godparent, or grandparent
  • Serving communion with their grown-up
  • Writing and sharing prayers of the people
  • Ushering and greeting with their family
  • Running PowerPoint on Sunday morning

One of our young people recently shared their experience of Bible camp by organizing the youth to lead worship on Sunday with many fun songs and a skit. It is affirming, inspiring, meaningful, and takes courage for young people to share themselves and their talents with their church family.  

Be on the Lookout!

It’s important to constantly be on the lookout for places we can invite children and youth to share their skills and Spiritual gifts. Doing this recognizes and encourages them in their Spiritual gifts giving them confidence to share their talents; it involves them in their faith community and builds relationships; it instills in them the importance of helping others and sharing God’s love with others every single day.

Financial giving campaigns are still important for children to participate in because they begin to learn all the ways we can help others in our community and in the world, but it is great to provide a bigger picture of all that stewardship and being a good steward of God’s gifts is.  

  • Emily Brown

    Emily Brown is graduating this Spring from Luther Seminary. She has been in the MDivX program and interning at University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis. She and her dog Pepperoni live in St. Paul.

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