Bishop Curry’s Way of Love is sinking into my consciousness. The seven practices – Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, and Rest – offer a lens through which to organize my work as a youth minister, parent, and child of God. My youth group spent a month on Turn, and now we’re focused on Bless, specifically how we can be blessings in our church and our everyday lives. Even though we don’t coordinate our weekly lessons, we often find ourselves in sync with each other in ways that offer the kids opportunities to show leadership in and to our church.
Our new rector, Allison English, created pledge cards for folks to fill out with their commitment of time, talent, and treasure. She also created prayer cards for everyone to fill out with their prayers for Calvary. The prayer cards gave folks an opportunity to have something to place in the basket even if they’re not pledging. That kind of inclusivity is critical to everyone feeling that whatever they have to offer is important. When one of the youth, Avery, arrived at our 9:30 family worship, Allison greeted him warmly and offered him a prayer card. What she didn’t know is that I planned to have our teens complete the full pledge card so that they could join the congregation when they placed their pledges on the altar at our 10:30 worship.
At our youth group meeting, I passed the pledge cards out and talked about what it meant to formally commit to serving the church. Avery and the others wrote down their commitments to being blessings at church and in our community, including hosting coffee hour, being acolytes, helping with Sunday School, serving the meal at Tender Mercies, providing gifts for Lighthouse Teen Services, and more. The kids wrote down their spiritual gifts. And then we talked about making financial contributions to the church. I told them it was up to them to discern whether or not they wanted to do that and to discuss it with their parents.
But here’s the thing. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about setting expectations for our children. I think we set the bar too low sometimes. I’m certainly guilty of that. These are kids, I think to myself. They can’t be expected to give their little money to the church. Or can they?
The more I think about it, the more I wish I had told them to think seriously about pledging a financial gift. It’s not about the amount; it’s about the commitment. A twenty-dollar pledge might not seem like much, but the act of formally deciding to bless our church with a gift sets a tone for future giving choices. It also lets them know that giving – including giving their money – matters.
Each of my kids wants to be a blessing in our church and our world. Teaching them to make and keep commitments shows them how to be faithful in other ways in their lives. This Sunday, I’m going to offer them the opportunity to pledge their financial contribution, just like they promised to bless the church in other ways. My heart tells me that this group of kids will take me up on my offer. As they prove to me over and over again, they’re just waiting to be asked.
Prayers, money, service – all of these components lead to healthy congregations. It’s important to me that my kids know that they are part of what makes our church so strong.
How do your children make commitments to the church? How can you create more opportunities for them to give?
photo courtesy of Pieter Delicaat from Wikimedia Commons