It's fall, and in local churches, that means talk of stewardship, pledges, and funds. It may mean renewed emphasis on the Christian use of time, talents, gifts, and service. Children can and should be included in the response to God that we call stewardship. And you can build that foundation through your Sunday school.
Responses to God
Stewardship is the faithful response to a loving God who is full of mercy and grace. Believers demonstrate this response by the use of the gifts that God has provided to the people, fulfilling God's mission in the world. It includes a lifestyle, a behavior, and an attitude through which we view ourselves and the world. Ultimately, our response to God is out of gratitutde for what God has given to us (1 Corinthians 4:11).
In the children's classroom, teaching about stewardship means helping children understand ways your church fulfills the Judeo-Christian understanding that God has given to all humankind a position of dominion over the rest of creation (Genesis 1:25). Beyond that, teaching about stewardship means helping children understand that being given this position of caretaker (dominion) over God's gift of the earth requires us to be stewards of God's creation.
One clear part of stewardship is the biblical foundation of the tithe. Tithing is the giving of ten percent of one's income to the church for use in the mission and ministry of the kingdom of God. Its roots are found in both the Old Testament (Genesis 14:18-20; 28-22) and New Testament (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42). Clearly tithing is meant to be the practice of the people of God. But faithful tithing is more than money: disciples of Jesus Christ will also want to tithe their time and their talents.
These activities will help your children understand the biblical and theological concepts of stewardship in the life of the church.
- Make Posters. Provide Bible verses, posterboard or art paper, crayons, paints, or markers. After writing a verse, encourage the children to illustrate it. For younger children, write the verses yourself and allow them to paste the verse on their illustration. Some verses to use: Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10, 17; Deuteronomy 18:4, 22:2; Psalm 24:1; Luke 11:42; 18:23, 19:8, 21:1-4; John 15:12-17; 2 Corinthians 8:9-12.
- Create a Play/Drama. Have children create a short vignette about a stewardship discussion they might have at their house at the kitchen table. They could focus the dialogue around how to spend their allowance, how much of their allowance they want to give to the church, etc.
- Create Prayers. Write prayers with a stewardship theme. Allow the children to name people, places, and things for which they are thankful. You could add to the list each week and display them in the hallway so adults can read them.
- Write a Poem or Create a Puzzle. After learning about their meanings, suggest that children use the following words on the theme of stewardship to create a poem, or use graph paper to create a crossword puzzle: creation, stewardship, steward, gifts, giving, tithe, qffering, thanksgiving.
- Develop a Stewardship Surprise. Take your class to visit adult and youth Sunday school classes to interview class members about their significant or meaningful efforts to be good stewards. Ask question such as: When have you shared something of your own to help someone else? How have you been a good steward? Why do you think it is important to be a good steward of all your resources? As the class conducts its interviews, share stewardship-focused artwork, skits, poetry, and puzzles with the class.
- Interview Some Guests. Ask the church treasurer to visit your class and bring financial information concerning expenses of the church budget. Have prepared in advance the information based on percentages in the following areas: salaries, benevolences including second-mile giving, missionary support; utilities; maintenance upkeep; Christian education materials and supplies; children and youth ministries. Create a pie chart so that visually your class can see for each dollar received where the tithes and offering go. By using a pie chart younger children will understand where the money goes that is given in the offering.
- Design Pledge Cards. Using 4x6 cards have children design pledge cards for their families and other classes in the church. Consider and discuss pledging not only money but prayers and actual ways they can service their church and community.
- Memorize a stewardship scripture or quote to share in worship. Use any of the verses listed in this article or an easy quote is "Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can." If there is a member of your church who knows American Sign Language have them teach your class the signs for the scripture or quote. If you know a scripture song that is stewardship focused teach that as well!
- Circle Response. Sit in a circle, and ask each question, allowing the children to respond when it is their turn how they: earn money (allowance, payment for chores, gifts); save money (piggy bank, shoebox, savings account); spend money (toys, clothes, school supplies, music); waste money (excessive soft drinks, candy, gum); use money wisely (gifts, donations, offering, food).
- Worship Leadership. Ask your pastor to allow your class to share something in worship: posters, cards, a skit or song, or prayers concerning stewardship. Children can and should be invited on a regular basis to help: receive the offering, read scripture, and serve commuion.