It’s just about that time of year when you are probably thinking about tax deductions and end of the year giving.If you bring your children in on the process by creating teachable moments for them throughout the end of the year giving process, it is a great way to teach generosity and make it more fun for you.
As I was growing up, my parents were constantly trying to show us how to live as a believer in Jesus. My parents owned a business, which created moments for my dad to teach us about generosity. One example was when he would do his end of the year giving. Dad would give each of us a curtain amount of money. He asked us to do research on a missionary, report back on our findings, and then he would write them a check. This memory changed my life, and let me in on how generous my parents were. This is the process I want to share with you, but first we have to start with the reasons why?
The Reason Behind Teaching Your Children To Give To Missionaries
In 2 Corinthians 9:6–7, Paul says,
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Paul’s teaching here can help us learn about our end of the year giving. Writing a check is a good start, but we need to understand the ways of God. He wants you to be a generous person, but also, He wants you to do it for the write reasons and with the right motives. I love how he tells us to first, decide how much you are going to bountifully give, then to give it with a cheerful heart. Seasoned saints understand this point, but for me this is still difficult. Our children are going to struggle being generous, so we have to start with teaching them alongside showing them the way to be generous.
Most churches have an end of the year offering to pay off debt, give to missions, or bless a family in need. Usually this is above and beyond your normal church giving (or tithe ). I would never want to deter you from giving in a direction that your church family is encouraging you to give.
Yet, you may find yourself scrambling to know if a mission is credible or what is the most effective ways to support missions. Many people just give up or give in, possibly saying something like, “my pastor knows the needs. I’ll just write a check.” I don’t think that is necessarily wrong to give money, but I would encourage you to use this opportunity to create a teachable moment for your children and grow together as a family.
Idea: Let your kids choose their own missionary to support
Wisdom says to let your children in on the process of distributing your end of the year funds because one day they will need make these same types of decisions. Proverbs 22:6 says it best, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” We must train our children to be generous, and then your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will, by the grace of God, do the same.
The process for your end of the year giving
Here is some guidance on the process of how to let your children support their own missionaries.
- Talk with your spouse. Your spouse needs to be on board with this process, and I always recommend talking about how much money to give and what are the ground rules for the children before you tell the kiddos. To make this extra impactful for your children, showing consistency in your decisions and desires as parents is the best way to go.
- Have a family meeting. This will allow for you to share what you want your children to do, how much money they have to work with, how they can do the research, possibilities for them to support, what is their deadline, and what your expectations are for this activity.
- Help with the research. If this is your first time going through the process or your children are young, you will have to direct them on where to start with the research process. You may create a list of possible choices or have them talk with someone knowledgable about missions. You could even have them listen to the Renewing Our City Podcast to learn more from seasoned missionaries, pastors, and leaders.
- Hold them Accountable. Every kid needs accountability, so you may have to keep reminding them about the due date for their decision. Most likely, they will have a few choices that make it a hard decision.
- Send the Check. After they pick, make sure you send the check to the organization they chose. It would not be good for you to ask for their opinion, then not take their advice. Or worse, to forget to send the check. Maybe write the check as a family and have them lick the envelope and put it in the mailbox.
5 Benefits of letting your children choose their own missionary to support
- You can let your children see you lead by example. Whether you like it or not, your kids are learning constantly from your actions, good and bad. My daughter loves to repeat what I say like a little four year old parrot. Letting them learn from your giving allows them to see how you are serving Jesus by being generous.
- It teaches your kids that everything is not about them. Maybe it is just the marketing, but kids are growing up believing that the world revolves around them. If we are not careful, we can communicate to our children that all their time, money, and energy should go towards their wants and desires. This is a dangerous and ungodly thing for them to believe, and one way to counteract the world’s ways is to show them how to be generous.
- It gives your kids a global perspective. Just like the last point, we can grow up to thinking, everyone should be just like us, if we do not have a global perspective on life. There are believers all around the world who are serving Jesus faithful and in much tougher situations who need our support. Church planters and evangelist who are fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:18–20) to go to all the world and make followers of Jesus. You can teach your children about different missionaries who reach the people of countries all around the world and the creative way they are doing it.
- It helps them to learn about different kinds of missionaries. Since there are so many different kinds of missionaries, this is a great way for them to research the different types of missions and choose one that interests them.
- It encourages your kids to do the same for their future families. The goal of being a Christ-centered parent is to raise children who genuinely love Jesus and know how to pass the faith on to your grandchildren. Teaching generosity through your end of the year giving is one piece of the puzzle to achieve this goal.
How to find missions to support
Hopefully by now, you are at least intrigued in the idea of this new end of the year giving model, but you may be asking, “how do I find missions for my children to research?” Here are a few places to start.
- Contact a pastor or missions director at your church. They will know good missions to support who are furthering the cause of Christ, but also have the contact information of the mission.
- Ask friends who they support. Other people in your small group or bible study most likely give to ministries on a regular basis. Ask them who they support and why.
- Research online. If you are a part of a denomination or have a network of churches, you should be able to find missionaries with a basic Google search. Also, it is good to search online for the missions your pastor or friends recommend.
- Find someone from your area. Unless you live in a very small town, you could find someone who is serving in a missions context that is from your home church/town. This has added benefit because during their furlough times, your children can meet them and get more excited about supporting their work.
What to do once your child has chosen a missionary to support
- Subscribe to the missionaries newsletter. This could be email, or snail mail, that has stories and updated information about the work your money is supporting. A good idea is to have your kid read the newsletter every month to keep updated.
- Send the missionary a personal note of encouragement and share why you chose to support them.
- Encourage your child to pray for the missionary before bed time.
- Have them give a report in front of your family, their school class, or a church group. Giving a presentation will help them spread the knowledge they have learned and will further the work they have done.
- Check in throughout the year. Further these lessons you have taught your kids by contacting your mission and getting updated on the great work they are doing around the world.
I hope you can experiment with what works for your family. The last thing I want to say is, there is not age limit on this process. My parents still ask me which missions I would like to support. You could do this from age 3–23 and still have fun in the process.
Question: What are the ways you have been generous with your end of the year giving? You can leave a comment by clicking here.