This generation is called Generation Z or I-Generation. I think I-Generation is more accurate. For those born in the early 2000s, they don’t know a world before their parents were taking pictures of them to share with the world on social media. They don’t know a world when they had to just sit at a restaurant or in a grocery cart without an iphone. I know because I parent a few of them. ha!
I can remember growing up and seeing my dad often in his office at home, with a calculator on his desk and a piece of paper figuring out how giving would be allocated among the many ministries God had given him to steward. I could tell that he took being honest with money, giving sacrificially and giving with faith very seriously because of the time and effort he gave to it. Fast forward, most of my family’s giving comes from our paychecks automatically. When we give to something once or above our monthly giving, again, we give our information and click. Even on the rare occasion that someone who is elderly puts money in the offering plate at our church, my kids are in the nursery or your students may be sitting in a section far away from someone who even carries cash.
I realized that my kids (currently ages 2 and 3) were rarely to never seeing me give my money to others. When we give to others it wasn’t on their radar. So, I prayed and read and prayed and asked for creativity. These ideas aren’t revolutionary…but doable!
1. Have a family saying that promotes generosity.
Several years ago we took a class at our church called Perspectives. One constant theme throughout the Bible is that God’s people are blessed to be a blessing. One of the verses that establishes this is Genesis 12:2- “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” When we give or when I would like my family to give I say this. For example, when we are having a family over for dinner I say several times during that day something like, “God takes care of us and we are never truly hungry. And, we have enough to bless others by having them over tonight. We are Piersons and we are blessed to be a blessing.” It is my habit to use our family name and this saying at least 2-3 times a week. If twice a week is a struggle, my calendar needs to be altered!
2. Make writing the check or clicking the button a regular family activity.
As a Christian you might automatically see this heading and think: Matthew 6:2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,”
But, notice I didn’t say have everyone perfectly posed at the dinner table to insta your family writing a check. Model and teach giving to your family. And, in this media driven "look at me" culture…part of modeling involves you reminding them that you are giving primarily to give God glory. Let your family see you give to plant seeds of generosity in their hearts. Invite your spouse and children to be a part of giving. You could make the giving time special with a special meal, activity, worship time, etc.
3. Couple giving and teaching together.
There are countless, powerful passages throughout Scripture about giving. One that I love is Proverbs 11:24: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” On the ride over to deliver a meal to a widow, share a verse and ask your family what the verse shows them about God. Consider what God may be telling your family through it. Or, after you sit at the table and click to give, brainstorm ways that you and your family can give. Take turns telling each other gifts you see in each member of the family and think through ways they can use those gifts generously to bless others that week.
4. Place a reminder that everyone can see often.
Our family has 2 primary visuals that I can reference and our whole family can participate in. One is a bank that is shaped like a little house. Our dear friends have a ministry called Mission at the Cross. Whenever my kids see loose change ANYWHERE they put it in their pockets or in my bag to take home to put in the bank. Then, together we pray for the men there that they would meet Jesus and be blessed. I follow up the prayer with: “I’m so proud you saw that money and chose to give it. We are Piersons and we are blessed to be a blessing.”
We also support a child through Compassion International. We have his picture on our fridge. He writes us letters and we proudly display them on our craft table with what my kids made at church or school that week. We pray for him and write him letters and think of ways to bless him.
I desire for them to see these constant reminders of ways we, all 4 of us, not just my husband and me, give to others. I don’t want my kids to think generosity is future focused but that they can see a need and bless now.
Speak about giving openly and often to create a culture of generosity in your home. Think of ways you can easily incorporate giving into the conversations and activities your family is already doing. Ask for creativity to make giving something everyone looks forward to and feels like they contribute to now. Pray for wisdom for age-specific ways to make the generosity of Christ come alive in your home.
If you have any ideas that you do, please share! - Amy