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Teaching children generosity in an age of online giving

Shobi Selvaduri Portrait Shobi Selvadurai
3 min

Generosity starts with the heart: the deeper our understanding of God’s own generous character, the deeper we'll feel called and moved to share our own time, talents, and treasures with others. 

If we want to teach our children about giving, first and foremost we can help them to recognise God’s generosity in sending Jesus to die for us. Once they have grasped God’s wholehearted love and mercy, we can nurture them in developing a true and selfless desire to generously give to others.  

Teaching children generosity by our own actions

Children learn by observing the actions of those around them, so as parents, carers and youth leaders we can try to model sacrificial giving of the talents and blessings God has given us. 

The tradition of the collection plate made financial giving to churches visible and tangible and for me, it impressed an understanding that giving money to the local church was an important part of our weekly worship. As a child I recall watching with fascination as the large wooden dish glided perfectly from pew to pew, with stewards providing a helping hand to negotiate a row change. I would observe how the church family placed their offering envelopes on the plate, whilst children and visitors dropped an assortment of coins and perhaps the odd note, as their turn came to make their offering. We would then thank God that we were able to give as a church and prayerfully request that God use the money to grow his Kingdom.

Fast forward 30 years and collection plates are, in many churches, a thing of the past. We are now encouraged to give online: it allows better planning, there are tax benefits and it’s more efficient. 

Teaching children generosity in a digital age

How, in an age of online giving, do we model generosity and teach our kids to be good and generous stewards of what they have?

Here are a few practical suggestions that may help us to think about how we tackle this issue:

  1. Regularly set aside time to look at our own giving, making sure we are giving in a responsible and prayerful way.
  2. Share details and thoughts about our financial giving with the children in our care. Taking time to explain who we give to and why have we chosen to support them.
  3. Help children to engage with those we support. If your church supports other local churches or overseas missionaries, try to connect with them on a personal level. Encourage children to send cards and letters to mission partners, put up photos in your home or around your church to serve as a reminder of who you give to.
  4. Youth leaders could consider the possibility of reintroducing a collection plate in youth groups, providing an opportunity for weekly teaching on giving.
  5. Start discussions about the different ways we can be generous to others. Use mealtimes, prayer and bedtimes to speak about how God has been abundantly generous in his provision.
  6. Read and discuss specific Bible passages with children that speak on generosity, such as:
  • The Widow’s Offering – Luke 21:1-4
  • The Rich and the Kingdom of God – Matthew 19:16-30
  • The Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37
  • Elijah and the Widow – 1 Kings 17:7-16

Teaching children generosity at the cross

As we seek to model generosity, we should always remember that it generosity is seen supremely at the cross, where Jesus willingly gave his life so that sinners like us can have forgiveness, reconciliation and the certainty of eternal life with our Father. We can be praying that our children’s acceptance of this truth is what ultimately spurs them on to a lifetime of generous giving.

More on money and the Bible

We have an array of blogs that focus on biblical stewardship and charitable giving, as well as a range of resources to help you think more clearly about money.

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Written by

Shobi Selvadurai

Shobi was a Church and Charity Customer Support Executive until 2022. In her role, Shobi provided advice and customer support to Stewardship church and charity partners. Prior to this, Shobi trained and worked as a local authority solicitor and then joined the staff team at her local church where she served for six years. 

Shobi lives in South West London with her husband, three teenage daughters, and their lively cocker spaniel. They worship at their local church where Shobi serves as a Sunday school leader. She has a real desire for children and young people to learn about Jesus and in the past has enjoyed running and leading church holiday clubs and cooking on Christian summer camps. Shobi is passionate about evangelism and enjoys reading and studying the Bible with people.