Growing up, I had one of those three-part plastic banks—one third was for spending, one was for saving, and one was for tithing. It was supposed to teach youngins like myself how to manage their meager finances in a way that would, hopefully, one day translate to effective budgeting (I’m working on it, Mom!).
The crumpled bills that were stuffed into the tithing section would eventually be placed into the offering plate at church. But even when I was a little older, I never really understood what my money was going toward.
At Concordia Gospel Outreach, we believe in nurturing a love of giving in children (and adults!). It’s about more than just tithing 10 percent and blindly putting it in an offering plate. Understanding the end result of the donation—helping those who don’t know Jesus as Savior—leads to a greater knowledge and application of the Great Commission.
So we’ll be writing a blog series on how you can cultivate a love of giving in children. We’ve divided the series up into three parts:
- Building an understanding of financial need
- Establishing what spiritual need is
- Giving and donating
First, we’ll focus on building an understanding of financial need.
Financial need comes in two parts: tithing at church and giving to people in need. That means we can support church workers through our tithes, and we can support those in need through donating or volunteering.
Why We Tithe
Many children will be familiar with the offering plates or bags that are passed around during church, but they may not know why Christians give back to the Church. Before establishing tithing, you should explain the concept to your child so they know why they’re giving.
The first tithe in the Bible occurs as a response to God’s blessing of Abram. Abram responds by giving a tithe to Melchizedek, a priest of God.
“And he blessed him and said,
‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:19–20).
Notice that Abram gave a tithe out of thankfulness to God, not to earn favor with God. Explain to your child that God gives us all our blessings, and tithing is our small way of giving back to Him.
Also read Matthew 6:1–4, where Jesus talks about giving in the right way—not pompously or selfishly. Ask your child how they can give without showing off.
Why We Aid Those in Need
Christianity isn’t just about tithing a percentage of our salary and calling it a day. Depending on your current financial situation, children might not understand the concept of need or poverty. You can sensitively explain to them that some people don’t make enough money to buy food, clothing, or houses. Be sure to clarify that this doesn’t mean these people have done anything wrong or that they’re bad people—sometimes people lose their jobs, can’t find jobs that pay enough money, or have to support other people, like parents or grandparents.
Jesus calls us to help others no matter what—see the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37 and Jesus’ explanation of the Last Day in Matthew 25:31–40. Ask your child:
- Is it possible to financially help someone without giving them money? How?
- Why is the story of the Good Samaritan so groundbreaking? Why is it significant that it was a Samaritan who helped the man?
- What do you think Jesus means when He says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40)?
Explain the difference between tithing to the Church and giving to those in need. Why do we need to do both? What benefits do each provide?