One of my first church lessons in giving was centered around a VBS penny campaign. We are talking about an old school boys versus girls challenge where the winner took all bragging rights and maybe even a pizza party. The merit of our giving should not be diminished. It felt great to give to deserving causes and it also felt great to beat the girls. However, this is also a cautionary tale.
I left those campaigns without a sense of what it meant to truly give sacrificially. Pennies upon pennies might have been all the money I owned growing up, but I cared less about why I should be giving in comparison to the prospect of beating the girls. This age old penny campaign is often taught using the passage of Mark 12: 41 – 44. The poor widow demonstrates that giving her two coins is a true act of giving in contrast to the rich people giving out of their surplus.
Where we need to land with this passage is the sacrificial giving this widow demonstrates. In her respect, she gives something of value expecting nothing in return. Practically, teaching the spirit behind why we give is difficult. However, I believe it is essential with all the rewards and incentives kids are given to perform appropriately in different settings of their lives – even in the church.
Here are some thoughts on how to teach kids to give sacrificially.
1. Demonstrate It – Some kids do not appreciate your sacrifice and will not learn from your modeling sacrificial giving, but to seek that approval or teachable moment essentially is not true sacrifice. Instead always remember to first remain faithful to Romans 12: 1.
2. Remove Rewards – Although it comes at a greater risk of apathy among kids, maybe choose an activity you historically give out rewards to winners. This could maximize your impact. Teach your kids not seeking rewards looks like a faithful Christian, who will receive rewards for their service but are motivated by no other thing than knowing God through Jesus (Philippians 3: 14-15).
3. Consistent Sacrifice – This one is my favorite because it is very applicable and gives this difficult concept feet. Consider consistently sacrificing your time or money to a specific cause. This could be giving money to a particular mission organization every month and keeping your kids accountable to giving. Perhaps instead, you could give up a Saturday every month and clean the church and weed the flower beds. The idea of consistency is that giving once can be fulfilling but giving something regularly can be difficult. Your kids will learn that sacrifice is a discipline not just a one time feel good moment.
Always remember to connect the way we serve others through our sacrificial giving is a mere reflection of what Christ did for us and share the gospel with them. Use scripture like Mark 10: 45 to teach Jesus is the fullness of what it looks like to give yourself sacrificially to others.