Are We Robbing Our Kids by Giving Online?
“Online giving is simple, fast, and convenient,” said the staff member at our church Sunday morning. Something struck me as I sat there sipping on my coffee. The attributes of online giving are that it is simple, fast, and convenient. Set in motion and you can have it automatically withdrawn month in and month out.
If you think about it, giving shares the same attributes as a 401 K deposit.
Years ago, I remember sitting in a finance committee meeting at our church discussing the merits of online giving. Originally, I will have to admit, it never sat well with me. I would contemplate in my own head - where has the holiness of the tithe gone? I think it was forgotten at some point between the reward points for church contributions and the tax deduction.
Ok, I get it. Come on Bob, get with the times. Who writes checks or gives cash anymore? In fact, online giving has been around so long it is almost an archaic idea.
Since then you will be happy to know I have come a long way in my thinking. Don’t get me wrong, you are still giving which is the point. The vehicle is a secondary consideration. However, there is one casualty of online giving that I can’t get past.
Our kids are the casualty. The opportunity to model and teach our kids by example the importance of tithing and giving. Here we are practicing one of the most important spiritual disciplines and our kids don’t know about it or participate in it from the standpoint of the family.
I have the luxury of having a Christian based financial planning clientele. Tithing is very important to those I serve. I love to ask, “So, how did you start tithing?” The answer that I received almost 100% of the time was that “my parents modeled it for me.”
I remember my Dad writing the check for the church each week. I don’t ever recall the amount. That was never really important. The visual stuck in my head. For most kids, this observation of giving money “away” creates the opportunity for conversation. Why would you give money to the church? Wouldn’t we rather go on vacation? Why wouldn’t you spend that money on video games instead?
The floodgates of questions open creating a perfect opportunity for you as a parent to model and teach about tithing/giving. You get the opportunity to discuss the spiritual aspects of money and God. You can talk about the greatest stewardship verse in the Bible. Matthew 6:24 (and Luke 13:10 – twice for emphasis) says the greatest competition for your heart lies in the struggle between money and God. Giving and tithing are the answers/surrender that puts us in the position to keep those priorities in order. You get the opportunity to teach that truth.
I had one client tell me that every Sunday morning his parents would write the check as a family and then pray over it before church. Then when the offering plate comes, the tithing check in the little church provided pink envelope (never understood why they were pink) was placed in the plate by the kids.
So, am I advocating that churches to re-think online giving? That is far from the case. I am advocating to make sure you don’t miss a valuable teaching opportunity when it comes to tithing and modeling for our kids.
As you know, little eyes are watching our every move. It is an awesome responsibility/blessing to be a parent trying to raise young Christian kids. If you are like me, we get it right and wrong sometimes when it comes to parenting. When we are getting it right by obediently living the Christian life and doing something as special as tithing it is a shame to waste that teaching moment because of the simple, quick, and automatic process of online giving.
Consider making giving a weekly teaching priority for your kids. Maybe trade in the online giving for a while and model tithing the old fashion way. Yes, banks still print check books. You might also find that it renews something special within your relationship with Christ as well.
Remember, if we aren’t teaching our kids about the spiritual aspects of money, the world is happy to do our job for us!
Bob Brooks is a Financial Advisor who practices in Dallas, Texas. He is also the Faith based Personal Financial Writer for the digital publishing platform the Maven as well as host of the Prudent Money Radio Show. The radio show is broadcasted Monday through Friday on KDKR 91.3 FM in the DFW area at 3 PM. For more information, you can go to www.prudentmoney.com. To contact Bob, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.