The occasion was a vestry meeting to write a stewardship statement. The group was completing a discussion of early memories of money as an offering that had been so lively, I couldn’t help commenting.
“You seem to have really enjoyed talking about these memories of giving offerings as children. Tell me, what do the children in this congregation do about offering?”
There was a sudden, embarrassed silence. Finally, one quiet voice responded with a mixture of realization and regret, “Nothing, I guess. I really hadn’t thought about it until now.”
As we talked, members of that vestry realized that in their congregation there was no Sunday school offering. Children left the worship service as soon as the gospel had been read and returned in time to follow the offering, towards the altar. There literally was no opportunity for them to participate in any offering at all!
The good news is that that situation changed for those children on the very next Sunday. The vestry member, also the children’s Sunday school teacher, invited her students to talk about offering and create their own offering box.
Now, that box is placed on top of the worship offering and presented at the altar each Sunday by one of the children. The priest leaves the offering on the altar until the conclusion of the Eucharist, and the children see their box sitting there when they come to the altar rail. The children also have selected outreach projects funded by “the children’s offering.”
“What are we teaching our children about stewardship?” is a critical question for our church, especially as we are teaching them very little. We are teaching them to shop but not to share! We can and must change this. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Plan to attend “Will Our Children Be Stewards,” July 14-17 in Minneapolis, sponsored by the Office of Stewardship.
Details are available by calling 800-334-7626 or online at www.episcopalchurch.org/stewardship.