by Alex Haney
After hearing about theLazarus at the Gatecurriculum, people sometimes ask, “what economic discipleship resources are there for my kids?”
Church leaders and teachers across denominations have developed many creative ways to engage children in this work. I’d like to highlight one kid-friendly giving idea frommy own childhood from the Presbyterian Church (USA). Every year as a kid my church would give me one of these fish piggy banks and we would fill them up and bring them back to church several weeks later.
The fish banks are given out during lent as part of a bigger denominational giving push calledOne Great Hour of Sharing. Annually, the denomination chooses to support organizations fighting poverty and building God’s kingdom in the world. They give these fish banks for the kids along with colorful bulletin inserts with details on where the money goes with stories and pictures of the families it will benefit. The money is collected during a special offering at Easter. In 2007, they named the piggy bank fish Gracie to further engage the children and started writing fish tales and stories about her with curriculum questions all about sharing foundhere.
One part I distinctly remember was this “Sharing Calendar” that came with the fish piggy bank. It challenged the entire family to give a certain number of pennies or quarters based on something different each day. For example one day, it said something like,“__ children in the world have to walk 2-3 miles per day to get water for their family. Put in one nickel for every faucet or spigot with running water in your home or yard.” Or another day it said something like “one in four children in the world suffer from intestinal worms which can enter the children’s body through their feet when they have no shoes. Put in a quarter for every pair of shoes in your closet.” I remember arguing with my mom that my dress-up boots and slippers did not count because they were not real shoes and I had already given up more quarters than I wanted to share. I was still learning how to share and quarters were big money! Other than my own occasional resistance, it was a fun way to get me counting all the things in my house and realizing how lucky I was to have them. As I grew older and caught on, I couldn’t help but give when so many in the world didn’t have these basic things like clothing, water, food and shelter.
This week I finished theLazaruscurriculum with my church in Burlington and the church handed out the fish piggy banks to the kids. I think I’m realizing how this giving thing works; it’s sharing. From our abundance we have a duty to give to the poor, or as Gracie the fish might say, “share” our abundance with those in need. Some of us can share one nickel for every faucet we have. Some can share a larger monthly donation. Some of us can join a team to build drinking water systems in developing regions and share our talents to build the kingdom. We should share the resources and gifts God has given us. We find the push we sometimes need in theLazarusclass or Gracie the fish reminding us how much of an abundance we have.
Feel free to use the Presbyterian Church’s “Sharing Calendar” orstories about Gracie the fish, if you need a place to start teaching your kids generosity. Maybe you know of other helpful child-focused giving ideas, curricula, or challenges for children. Leave a comment to let others know what got you thinking about generosity as a child, or how you are teaching young people economic discipleship.