Barnabas Foundation offers a variety of educational, planning and marketing resources to support your church or ministry’s stewardship and planned giving efforts.

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  • Generosity: What’s Age Got to Do with It?

    This webinar discusses generosity and age with Karl Travis.

  • Generous Giving

    The” Joy of Generosity” devotions are designed for church leaders to use in their regularly scheduled meetings to help them as leaders meditate on God’s plan for whole-life stewardship and facilitate a stewardship mindset in their churches.
    There are three sets of devotions to choose from in the “Joy of Generosity” series:
    1) Biblical Principles – 7 devotionals
    2) Money Matters – 5 devotionals
    3) Generous Giving- 7 devotionals
    These devotions were developed by Barnabas Foundation (www.barnabasfoundation.com) and are adapted from “The Joy of Generosity” (HomeLink series) written by Robert C. Heerspink and released by Faith Alive Christian Resources (www.faithaliveresources.com).


    Devotions play a key role in moving our hearts and minds into a receptive attitude.  Their impact on our growth as “good stewards” can be significant, as the opportunities to select appropriate devotions for specific groups expands.  We’ve selected some of the best resources available to guide you in this area.

  • Handling Our Wealth

    Part 1:  Every Single Cent

    These scripture passages highlight four principles: 

    1)    God is the owner of everything.

    2)    We are to be generous with the treasure entrusted to us.

    3)    We are to prudently manage our treasure.

    4)    Our treasure can be dangerous if not handled responsibly before God.

    The first and foundational principle is that God is the source of everything.  He owns it all.  We are his managers.   

    We really own absolutely nothing in God’s eyes. Every cent, every possession is God’s. This is quite contrary to the “me” culture that teaches us to think this is my house, my car, my bank account.   Recognizing God’s ownership of all things is critical in allowing Him to become Lord of our money and our possessions. This may seem limiting, but it is really liberating. 

    Strange as it seems, money and possessions, which should be among the blessings of life, have tied more people in knots, caused more failed marriages, and sent more people to the psychiatrist than we’ll ever know.  This is largely because many people live by their pocketbook and try to fulfill their lives with things, finding it easy to act as if God doesn’t exist in this area of their lives.  Slowly the mindset can develop that, “I worked hard for what I have, and it’s mine to do as I choose.”

    We cannot own something without it owning us. We lose joy and a sense of freedom if we try to play God.  He owns.  We manage.   When we pursue the created instead of the Creator, we create our own materialistic god. 

    Giving a meaningful percentage of one’s income is a step in the right direction. Why?  Because it helps a person to develop a right perspective that all our money, ability, our very lives, belong to God.  These are trusts from God to be used as He would have them used.  It frees us from faithless fear and results in an indescribable freedom that can never come to those who think they must do everything for themselves. 

    We acknowledge God’s existence and His ownership of everything by using God’s resources for furthering God’s kingdom.   It shifts our interest from earth to heaven — from self to God.  It is investing for eternity.  In the next few issues of this newsletter, we will explore our responsibility in handling our treasure effectively and generously and the dangers that are present if we do not act responsibly.

    What Does Scripture Say?

    The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Ps. 24:1

    “The silver is mine and the gold is mine”, declares the Lord Almighty.  Haggai 2:8

    You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.  Deut. 8:17-18


    Part 2:  A Little Bit More

    “Dear Lord, bless the labor of our hands, because you know, Lord, if we had just a little bit more, we could give more to those in need.”

    And when God answers that prayer, time and again He is disappointed.  Polls suggest that as the income of Christians goes up, the percent of giving goes down.  The dreams of society collide with the vision of God’s kingdom.  Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of a little bit more.  “If I just had a little bit more, I could afford to be more generous.”  However, true generosity is rooted in habits of the heart, not in the bank balance.

    But God remains undeterred. Again and again He floods us with blessings, hoping to trigger a hearty, generous and exuberant response to His love. It is such a joy for Him to give that He wants us to experience that same sense of joy and fulfillment – the excitement of living in His image.

    You see, He really doesn’t need our money. It is all His anyway. If He needs a program funded, a hungry mouth fed or a home for the homeless, He can just as easily make it happen without us. But when that happens, we are the losers.

    We have lost the opportunity to experience the joy and fulfillment of helping one of His children, the kind of experience He finds so thrilling. We have carelessly thrown away an opportunity to become more like Him.

    There is much work to be done that will be accomplished with our generous giving.  During this time of the year, as we recognize that He has given us “a little bit more,” keep in mind the kind of joy He hopes that little bit more will bring to us. 

    What Does Scripture Say?

    “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”  Malachi 3:10

    In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35 

    Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

     2 Corinthians 9:7


    Part 3:  Good and Faithful

    Jesus taught us that you can learn a great deal about people by how they use their resources.  In fact, He told a parable that addresses this very issue in Matthew 25.  It is the Parable of the Talents.  It is about being faithful with what God has given to each of us.

    What is the standard for success in managing God’s gifts to us?  God’s standard is faithfulness.  We have a responsibility to handle our wealth effectively.

    Listen to the voice of the Master: “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful…” (vs. 21); and again in vs. 23, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful...” Understand that God is not looking for quantity as the measure of success here.  God gave to each servant  “each to his ability ... to one He gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent.” (vs. 15). 

    The master knew each of his servants well.  He knew what they were capable of managing. The faithful steward is responsible for what he or she has, whether it is little or much.  As someone once said, “It’s not what I would do if one million dollars were my lot; it’s what I am doing with the ten dollars I’ve got.”  

    Interestingly, the servant who was given two talents received the same reward as the servant who was given five talents. They used those talents in their Master’s best interest. It was the third servant who did not act in the Master’s best interest.   He did nothing to increase his Master’s money.

    The way we handle our wealth can also honor God.  Honor the Lord with your wealth…” Prov. 3:9.  How do we best do that?

    We honor God by managing what we have; timely payment of bills, prudent management of debt, saving for emergencies, saving for retirement and wise investing.  

    We also honor the Lord by generous giving.  Giving a cup of cold water in His name is demonstrating His love to those in need.

    A final way we can honor God at the end of our lives is in the distribution of our estate.  This is a time we can make a significant statement to our loved ones about our priorities while continuing the work of God’s kingdom after we are gone.

    Are you effectively handling your wealth?  Open your checkbook. It is the ultimate test of your heart’s desire.   Are you honoring God by your investments in eternity?  Your answers will determine the direction of your life and your final reward. 

    What Does Scripture Say?

    Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.  I Cor. 4:2

    Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.  To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.  (Parable of the Talents—Matt. 25:14-30) 

    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matt. 6:19-21


    Part 4:  The Dangers of Wealth

    The first 3 parts of “Handling Our Wealth” focused on what the Bible has to say about dealing with our wealth and possessions.  Three principles have been highlighted:

    ·      God is the owner of everything.

    ·      We are to be generous with what has been entrusted to us.

    ·      We are to prudently manage what has been entrusted to us.

    In this final article in the series, we will look at the dangers of wealth. 

    Like many things in life, wealth is relative. When we read the word “wealth”, we may not think this applies to us.  We are not Bill Gates, perhaps we don’t have a stock portfolio, or maybe even the idea of putting together a vacation in the sun is a remote possibility.   However, as middle-class Americans, we really are among the very richest people in the world.  If you're really curious about that, go to www.globalrichlist.com and type in your household income. Be prepared to be shocked by how rich you are by world standards.

    Whatever the level of our wealth, it is significant because it is a trust from God.  However, the power and influence of money can cause harm if we let our possessions possess our hearts.  The Bible warns about dangers that come with wealth.

    It is easy to think that what we have gives our lives value, satisfaction or security.  It can become a measure of comparing ourselves to others.  Do we want others to evaluate us on our income, our profession or what we own?  A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.  Luke 12:15b.  Chasing wealth for the purpose of self-gratification never satisfies.  Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. Eccl. 5:10

    Another danger is misguided trust.  It is easy to trust in our assets instead of allowing God to fill our lives with what we really need.  Our security shifts to the temporal rather than the unseen, eternal promises of God.  When you get down to it, stewardship is not about giving, it is about trust. It’s relinquishing control of something that is so much a part of our daily lives.  God promises to meet our needs, but we need to step aside and allow Him to do so.  We need to have enough trust in God that we leave room for obedience when we sense God calling us to something out of the ordinary.

    Finally, we hinder God’s plan and purpose when we fail to use our resources in the way that God intends.  We live on a groaning planet that needs the love of God in tangible ways.  Half of our world – three billion people—live on less than $2 a day (purposedriven.com). Millions of people have never even heard the Word of God.  As someone said, “I believe that God’s people possess God’s provisions to accomplish and fulfill God’s purposes in the world.”   

    Do we take Jesus seriously when he warns how hard it will be for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven?  Wealth, in itself, is not wrong. It is our attitude towards wealth that matters most to God.  Do we see it as God’s gift to us to manage in His best interest? Simply put, we are to use our wealth, money and resources in this present life with an eye on eternity.  We are to invest what God has given us now to accomplish His long-term goals.  What a responsibility.  What a privilege!

    From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  Luke 12:48b

    What Does Scripture Say?

    People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  I Tim. 6:9-10

    Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  I Tim. 6:17-18

    Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.  This too is meaningless.  I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, or wealth lost though some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. Eccl. 5:10, 13-14

    Money affects every aspect of our lives.  It is one of the acid tests of character and so it is not surprising that scripture has a lot to say about it. 

    Did you know that there are over 2,300 verses in the Bible that deal with our possessions?  Jesus knew how important it was to talk about since two-thirds of his parables address the topic.  Why is money and our possessions such an issue for God?  The way we handle our money doesn’t just affect us in our pocketbook, it affects us spiritually.  How we handle our money affects our relationship with the Lord.

  • How to Create and Use a Narrative Budget

    Webinar (For Churches)

    In this webinar, Rick Droog, Stewardship Consultant at Barnabas Foundation discusses how to create and use a narrative budget. When proposing annual budgets, most church leaders present their congregations with various line items and lots of numbers. A popular and extremely effective approach currently being used is to “tell the story” behind the numbers. This is referred to as a Narrative Budget, and it provides your congregation with a vision of your ministry, rather than just a spreadsheet of line items.


  • How to Strengthen Stewardship in Your Church

    This webinar discusses how to strengthen stewardship in your church with Bruce Barkhauer.

  • In God We Trust - Kids (K-5)

    Strengths

    • One of the most striking things about this program is how well it uses a fun, high-energy lesson format to communicate solid, Bible-based financial principles. 
    • Getting started is easy with a short, humorous instructional video that walks leaders through the lesson format (with shots of kids in class) and a single-sheet "Quick Start" guide. 
    • The DVD lessons are masterfully done with cutting-edge music and videography that would appeal to kids. Real-life situations are used to set up the lesson (i.e. a couple of boys playing a video game on the couch). And the Bible stories are creatively told (i.e. a guy walks through a toy store looking at toys while telling the Bible story of the rich man who couldn't part with his stuff). 
    • A thoughtfully-produced CD-ROM includes a step-by-step leader's guide, in-class games, and take-home cards for the refrigerator and personal meditation time. 
    • One of the best ways to evaluate a program is from people who have used it. Below are selected quotes from a church that experienced a great blessing using In God We Trust:
    • "The material was extremely user friendly and our volunteers loved using it."
    • "In God We Trust made it so easy to understand [stewardship] that even the adults were making comments that they wish it could be taught this way in 'Big church.'" 
    • “You could see and hear the children responding to what they were being taught.”
    • “The feedback from parents was very positive...."The Fridge" and "God Time" cards were very effective and actually provided a great way for parents to continue teaching their children at home during the week." 
    • "Thanks for teaching my kids that my truck is not really mine.” (they graciously informed me that it was really God’s truck).

    Things to be aware of

    • The Crown web site www.crown.org suggests a companion resource entitled "Family Times Virtue Pack" (sold separately) that parents and children can also do at home. This may not be necessary, however, as the In God We Trust kit provides ample quality resources for home use. 
    • Although the kit includes a wealth of high-quality materials (and Crown likely invested significant resources in this project), the cost of the program may be a concern for some (as of this writing it is priced at $150). The tangible products you receive in the mail are 1 DVD, 3 CDs, and Quick Start Guide - everything else you download and print yourself (including the game board for one of the in-class games).

    In God We Trust is an engaging 4-week DVD-based curriculum from Crown Financial Ministries that teaches kids (kindergarten to fifth grade) how to give, save, and spend money wisely.

  • Making the most of every opportunity

    “Be very careful, then, how you live...making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” 
    - Ephesians 5:15

    Paul reminds us that the very nature of our world discourages our stewardship of time. “The days are evil,” he writes (Eph. 5:15). And because evil seems so powerful in our world, we are tempted to despair of making a real difference. The author E. B. White once said, “When I get up in the morning I am torn between saving the world and enjoying the world. This makes it very difficult to plan my day.” 

    He’s right. Saving the world seems an impossible task. What difference will our little acts of goodness make in the overall scheme of things? No wonder so many people today allow time to run through their fingers like sand on the seashore. We pursue meaningless activities that kill time and the possibilities it presents.

    Paul challenges us to be stewards of time, “making the most of our opportunities” (v. 15). Paul understands that because of Christ’s victory on the cross, time is redeemed. Our efforts to use time in ways that make a difference for the kingdom of God will not be wasted. God will establish our work through the power of his grace.

    But then, should we go from one extreme to the other? Does seizing every opportunity mean we can never relax, never have a moment for ourselves, never take time to “smell the roses?” Is Paul calling us to become workaholics for the kingdom of God?

    No! Here in these verses, Paul sets our use of time against an invitation to worship God. In so doing, he reminds us that using our time well is set against the backdrop of God’s divinely established rhythm for life. Early in Israel’s history, God set a pattern for us. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:9-10). God’s “six and one” pattern reminds us that we do not live by work alone. Not even God’s kingdom comes about by our work alone. Rather, our times are in God’s hand. God’s grace working through us makes a difference—not only for today but for eternity.

    Source: “The Joy of Generosity" devotional series developed by Barnabas Foundation and available at www.barnabasfoundation.com; adapted from the HomeLink series written by Pastor Bob Heerspink and released by Faith Alive Christian Resources.

    Time is a remarkable gift from God. The pages of our personal planners and the squares on our calendars represent the moments God has entrusted to our care. But how should we use them? We can fill those moments in an almost limitless variety of ways.

  • Mapping your Congregation’s Assets

    Webinar (For Churches)

    In this webinar, Fred Milligan, Stewardship Consultant at Barnabas Foundation discusses mapping your congregation’s assets. Asset Mapping is a term which arrived in the not-for-profit world a number of years ago as community development leaders sought ways to move economically distressed communities from a scarcity mentality focused primarily on their needs to an abundance mentality focused on their existing resources.  Applying this technique to church stewardship attitudes and practices is relatively new and holds potential for helping churches operate out of an abundance mentality. 

  • Money & Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples by Matt Bell

    Marriage Money

    Features and Strengths 

    Spiritual Discipline:  “When we are generous, we live in concert with our design, so it should come as no surprise that modern-day researchers studying the causes of human happiness have found that generous people are happier than those that are not generous.” Throughout the book Bell gives explanations reinforced with scripture verses. He shares his knowledge on the importance of making generosity the highest priority, as well as staying out of debt. Jesus was very clear about money, and Bell makes it easy to follow His example. 

    Easy to read: This book is divided into a “Ten-Step Action Plan for Financial Success.” The reader is taken on this journey of budgeting, working hard, staying out of debt and giving back to the Kingdom of God. Chapter by chapter, the reader is given direction and encouragement that living a debt free life is more than a possibility.

    Challenge: Bell challenges the reader to be proactive with their finances. This book tells of the importance of knowing your credit score and how to manage it. Setting financial goals and creating a budget are discussed, as well as paying back mortgages and car loans in a timely matter. The reader is encouraged to start marriage in a financially stable manner, and encouraged to apply good money management into the couple’s relationship now. “Strive for oneness and teamwork in your finances, and such characteristics will show up in other areas of your relationship, as well.” Money & Marriage helps the reader understand that preparation is indispensable to maintain a healthy money life, not only in one’s own life, but as a couple. 
     

    Perspective
    “You are in the midst of one of the happiest phases of life, but it can also be stressful. If you are engaged, there are countless decisions to be made about your wedding. If you are newly married, there’s a lot to be accomplished in bringing your lives together, financially and otherwise.” This book was designed to guide the reader through the journey of engagement and marriage. Bell demonstrates to couples that planning is the key to a successful financial future, as well as a successful marriage. The reader is brought on this sometimes confusing journey through credit cards, car loans, mortgages, credit scores, and debt. All the while, Bell shows how to maintain good credit, as well as how to get out of tough financial situations.

    Available at Barnesandnoble.com.

    Bell has written a book that is a “must have” for young adults both engaged, and married. He walks the reader through living on an established income and guides them through the tough subjects of debt, mortgages and combined salaries. Bell discusses the difficult decisions couples must make regarding money choices and many more topics.

  • Money Matters

    Devotions play a key role in moving our hearts and minds into a receptive attitude.  Their impact on our growth as "good stewards" can be significant, as the opportunities to select appropriate devotions for specific groups expands.  We've selected some of the best resources available to guide you in this area.

  • Money Talk: Questions Your Congregation Ask When You’re Not in the Room

    Webinar (For Churches)

    We have hundreds of candid and healthy conversations with believers about money every year. More often than not, they’re talking with us about how and why they intend to bless (or not) their local churches through their God-given resources. 

    In this webinar, Barnabas Foundation planners will share information and stories about the conversations we’re having with the people in your congregation in the process charitable planning. 

    • What questions do they ask? 
    • What do they wish they’d hear from their pastors and church leaders? 
    • What inspires people to invest in their local churches – and what keeps them from giving more? 

  • Raising Cheerful Givers

    Part 1 – INTRODUCTION

    In these next few issues, we will look at what parents can do to help grow generous, joyful givers who will continue to impact Christ's kingdom for years to come.

    Teaching our kids good financial values while they are still under our authority will give them the tools they need to do well in the real world.  The goal is to establish a strategy for independence so they can handle their own finances successfully before they leave home.  It will also provide a rich opportunity to share with them the important understanding that everything we have belongs to God, and we are to handle our possessions in a way that is honoring to Him.

    It is important to provide our children with the proper environment to practice the discipline of handling finances, to monitor their activity so that we can maximize teachable moments, to help them set attainable goals, and finally, be sure to offer them encouragement and praise for their effort.

    Of course, teaching kids good financial values can begin at any age, but the younger we start, the better. Research has found that children ages 7 and younger remember about 90 percent of what they do, but less than 10 percent of what they hear.  They learn best by doing, feeling, hearing and seeing.  Older children also learn best by doing, but have the capacity to begin making personal decisions and learn from them.   Teens are able to think abstractly and logically, but are heavily influenced by peer pressure.  They are beginning to integrate attitudes and behavior with the principles we have taught them.  If by this time we have not taught good financial values, it is unlikely that those values will win over the values of contemporary culture.

    Our kids need to learn about stewardship, and what better place to learn these lessons than at home, right here and right now.


    Raising Cheerful Givers

    Part 2 – THE VALUE OF WORK

    This is the second in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”. Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    According to a 2003 study, students who worked in high school are much more likely to achieve their financial goals and be knowledgeable about money than those who did not.  Working in high school and college, to the extent that it doesn’t interfere with schoolwork, seems to pay off later in life. Children can begin to understand the value of reward for work at a very young age.  The fact of the matter is that the value of work is much more than just monetary.

    Teaching your child the value of work builds character. Children will grow up with more respect for the value of money and what is required to earn it.  It also teaches diligence.  Diligence is a work ethic that means you do the task set before you to the best of your ability in a timely fashion.  Diligence encompasses honesty, purpose, energy, excellence and working heartily.  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Col. 3:23)

    When they are too young to “work”, children need a source of money that enables them to learn how to save, spend and share.  One such source is an allowance.  Sometimes there is debate among parents of whether an allowance is good.  Some may feel that children need to understand that as part of a family, they do chores simply for the benefit of the family community.  While contributing help to the family unit is very important and right, parents may miss the opportunity of a valuable teaching tool if there is no allowance. 

    Have you ever been in the store when your child eyes the toy that represents the latest hot “toy craze” or technological gadget that he really needs and he needs it now?  Do you hold your ground and simply respond, “No” as you prepare to once again do battle with the crankiness that follows?  Or, do you smile and ask your child, “How soon will you have enough money to buy it?”

    Whether the money is given or earned, the money is theirs.  If they choose to blow the money on the ugliest (in your eyes) and most expensive shoes in the store, let them do it.  When they are short on cash, they will realize the benefit of a wiser decision.  Keep telling yourself that the reason your children are receiving money is because you want them to learn to manage it. 

    In our next issue, we will further discuss the idea of allowances.


    Raising Cheerful Givers

    Part 3 – ALLOWANCE:  A TEACHING TOOL

    This is third in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    As Howard Dayton states in his book, Your Money Counts, “Learning to handle money one step at a time is part of a child’s education, a part that parents cannot leave to teachers but must direct themselves.”  We can begin helping them make wise choices at an early age.

    When children are too young to “work”, children need a source of money that enables them to learn how to save, spend and share.  One such source is an allowance.  

    Ideally, allowances should not be tied to chores, but you may consider paying children to do tasks for which you might otherwise pay someone else.  This can be a great opportunity to teach them about the connection between work, tithing and money and help them develop a sense of pride and responsibility in being compensated for achieving a hard-earned goal.

    Some general guidelines:  Many parents start with one dollar per week for kindergartners and go up by one dollar per year through elementary school.  As your child enters high school and becomes eligible for outside employment, it is a good idea to discontinue allowances during summer vacation because this will probably motivate your teen to earn some of his own money by having a summer job. 

    When it comes to money, many times parents find it difficult to keep a good balance of giving to their children but also encouraging them to pick up more of the responsibility.  This is a personal decision each parent needs to make given the age and maturity of their child.  However, the most important thing you can do is to have a plan that is clearly communicated to your child before a crisis of wills occurs.  If we always give, give, give to our kids, someday they will experience a rude awakening.

    Clearly, over-indulgence with things can hinder the development of a child’s character and quickly destroy the need for initiative and motivation. 

    In our affluent society, many of us are giving our kids so many things and spending so much on them, that we may be spoiling their chance of growing into responsible adults.  The best response:  an allowance.  Once your kids have discretionary money of their own, you can begin to say to your child, “If that is what your really want, when you’ve saved enough money, I’d be happy to drive you to the store.” 

    Our next issue will discuss the importance of teaching children how to budget and manage their money.

     

    Raising Cheerful Givers

    Part 4 -  TEACHING MANAGEMENT:  SHARING, SAVING AND SPENDING

    This is fourth in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    Once children receive a source of income either by allowance or other means of making money, they are ready to learn how to manage it.  The first step is making a budget and practicing the discipline to stick to it.  Teaching children how to budget will not only help them reach their goals, but will also teach them how to make wise choices throughout their lives. 

    To effectively create a budget, children need to understand three things:  sharing (tithing), saving and spending.  Instead of just dumping all their money into a piggy bank, we want to help our children determine an appropriate amount or percent of income for each area.

    SHARING. Perhaps the most important lesson in our children’s financial training is the concept of stewardship.  Sharing doesn’t come easily for most children.  Their natural sense of ownership says, “It’s mine and I want to keep it!”  This is an opportune time to help them understand that everything is not ours but is really God’s. We are just managing or “taking care” of it for Him.  This concept begins to lay the foundation of a lifetime of faithful stewardship.  Sharing also teaches children that the world is bigger than themselves.  By sharing, they will understand the value of  reaching out to help others.

    SAVING. Setting short- and long-term goals with our children, depending on their age, will be very beneficial to them and their future.  Whether it is a new toy, video game, bike or other item, saving helps children understand the rewards of accumulation now and spending later.  To help a child stay motivated in saving, you may want to offer to match with your own money all or some of the amount they save. 

    SPENDING. The last category is discretionary spending.  Let them spend this amount on what they choose. Let them make the decisions, good or bad, about what to buy.  After purchases are made, discuss it with them. For example, after they have bought yet another video game, share with them what else they could have used with that money.  Or, after they’ve made a good decision, show them how others are making less desirable purchases.  Allow this to be a learning experience so they can learn the importance of making good decisions. 

    Children can learn the principles of sharing, saving and spending at a very early age.  For example, preschoolers can be given three coins each week to put into the three categories. 

    Once children enter grammar school, they can begin to divide their income by percentages.  A good guide to start is ten percent of their money goes into sharing, 50 percent into saving and 40 percent into spending.  There is no borrowing from one category to another.  Remember when the spending money is gone, it’s gone.  By supplementing those budgets, we would defeat the purpose and send the wrong message.

    It doesn’t take children long to recognize that money is important.  It takes more time to learn how to use it well.  Remember, not having a plan is a plan to fail.  The rewards of teaching good financial management according to biblical principles will provide our children the foundation for joyful giving and responsible living.


    Raising Cheerful Givers

    Part 5 – CONTENTMENT AND DELAYED GRATIFICATION

    This is fifth in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    It is very easy for children and adults to think about all the things they want. It might be something someone else has or something shown on television.

    In a world where there are so many things, there is always something that is better than what we already have. Too often, the quest to have the best becomes all consuming – and ultimately less and less satisfying. Contentment does not come from material things. But that is a hard lesson to teach.

    So what does correlate with happiness? It is the attitude that Paul describes in Phil. 4:11-12 as learning to be content. When we are content with what we have, we are more likely to appreciate God’s gifts to us.

    But how can we demonstrate that fact to children? Even at an early age they experience the desire to have more and more, especially something someone else has. If that desire remains unchecked, it turns into ugly patterns of expectation and entitlement.

    It is unrealistic to expect our children not to be enticed by more things or to experience peer pressure as they get older. But children who don’t know how to control their appetites often become adults who are drowning in debt.

    As parents, it is our responsibility to model control techniques. One of these is delayed gratification. When children see Mom setting aside some money each week to make a major purchase – in fact, when they help Mom by charting the progress toward a goal - they become participants in delayed gratification.

    Such an exercise shows them how to work towards a goal and helps temper their appetite for more. With delayed gratification, there is a sense of responsibility and expectation. It teaches discipline, restraint and impulse control. They begin to realize how methodical savings can lead to a goal they can truly appreciate.

    As Dr. David G. Myers states in his book, The Pursuit of Happiness, “Happiness depends less on having things than on our attitude toward the things we have.” He also notes that well-being is something other than being well-off.

    Helping our children examine what is meaningful and then having the courage to confront the corrosive quest to always want the best brings a sense of contentment to our children and to our families.

     

    Raising Cheerful Givers

    Part 6 – TEENS AND THE DANGERS OF CREDIT

    This is sixth in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    When you left home, how well prepared were you to make serious financial decisions? 

    We spend 18 years preparing our children for adulthood, but only a few hours teaching them the use of credit and money. Yet, the failure of most marriages can be attributed to problems with credit and money. Even more importantly, the misuse of money destroys a Christian witness.  As parents we have a great responsibility.

    In her book, Branded:  The Buying and Selling of Teenagers, Alissa Quart writes that “those under twenty-five are now the fastest-growing group filing for bankruptcy.”   As we discussed in earlier articles, it is critical to lay the groundwork early in our children’s lives by teaching them how to share, how to handle small amounts of money and to let them experience the positive value of delayed gratification.  Once they reach teen years, they will be faced with bigger decisions that involve higher-risk, large-ticket items and will be less open to parental advice and suggestions.

    One of the best things to do while teens are still at home is to take them to a local bank to open their own checking account, perhaps with a debit card. Such accounts help to teach the discipline of tracking money. They provide an opportunity each month to review the statements together as you teach them how to manage an account. Once they have learned to manage a simple account, they can more easily graduate to transactions such as house and car payments.

    If your teen or young adult will be leaving soon for college or off on their own to work, they will be bombarded with offers for car loans and credit cards.  Unfortunately, this is the time too many young people naively pile up debt that takes years from which to dig out.  The device that digs the hole is often a personal credit card.

    Our consumer culture works overtime to convince young people they deserve a fantasy lifestyle. Teens need to understand that when they put money into investments others pay them rent for using their money. But when they borrow, they have to pay others to rent the money. And if they bounce a check or miss a payment, no matter how good the excuse, debt quickly turns into high interest loans, often as high as 25%, and additional credit becomes impossible to get.

    As Christian parents we need to give our children practice in using all the tools they need to manage bank accounts, credit cards, consumer loans and investments by the time they graduate from high school.  This will give them a solid foundation for their family finances in the future, and provide them with the ability to continue the practice of joyful, generous giving to impact Christ’s kingdom. 

     

    Raising Cheerful Givers

    Part 7 – MODELING FINANCIAL FAITHFULNESS

    This is the seventh and final article in our series on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    Have you ever heard the saying, “We can teach what we believe, but we only reproduce who we are”?  The most powerful tool we can use to teach our children is how we conduct our lives everyday. 

    When we do this intentionally, we follow the Lord’s instruction in Deut. 6:6-7: These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Notice how the Lord suggests not only talking about his commandments but also modeling them.  It is our responsibility to teach, talk and model. 

    As we’ve discussed in this series of articles, today’s kids need all the help they can get to thrive financially in this world, while fully understanding the connection between faith and finance.  Helping them understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money but also become good stewards. 

    As Nathan Dungan states in his book Prodigal Sons and Material Girls, “You are your child’s best hope for growing up resistant to the consumer culture.  Parents have great influence in shaping their kids’ values, priorities and habits.  And the sooner you realize that virtually every message your child hears about money promotes spending, the more prepared you will be to counter with messages on the value of saving and the joy of sharing.”

    When we are looking for it, life brings countless opportunities to model to our children an eternal perspective on life, money and possessions.  Some ways to do this are:

    Show an attitude of thankfulness at all times.

    ·   Get children involved in your giving activities.

    ·   Be honest with your children. Let them know that giving isn’t always easy but that it shows how much we value what God values.

    ·   Show children how to save as a family for special activities such as vacations or other items.

    ·   More is not always better. Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you need to have it. Let your children witness contentment in your life.

    The most important thing we can do is to pass our faith in Christ to the next generation. As parents (and grandparents), we have a great responsibility to share practical biblical truths to our children.  In many ways we are in a race against time.  Unless our children learn and understand God’s financial principles of sharing, saving and spending, they will not be financially able or have the motivation to support the Lord’s work in this world.

    Our prayer is that every parent and grandparent reading this article will clearly model financial faithfulness to future generations.   May God bless us in this task. 

    Today’s kids will need all the help they can get to thrive financially in this world, while fully understanding the connection between faith and finance.  Our children and young people are under assault with messages to spend, be greedy and grab immediate gratification wherever possible.  Our culture is teaching our kids how to handle money.  It is not God’s way. Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money but also become good stewards.