A: Already Doing It
— Do you make meals for families who have a sick member of their family, just had a baby, or just suffered a loss? That’s stewardship!
— Do you volunteer your time at school, church, or in the community? That’s stewardship!
— Do you tithe on Sunday? That’s stewardship!
— Do you pass on used clothes, household items, or toys to other families or persons in need? That’s stewardship!
— Do you or your child give $2 on Fund-a-Friend day at school to help a cause in need? That’s stewardship!
Many of us donate our time, talents, and treasures everyday, forgetting that in doing so we are stewards of God’s great gifts!
B: Birthday Stewardship Party. A wonderful example of being God’s steward is by hosting a Birthday Stewardship Party. For example, throw a “charity” birthday party for your child’s birthday. Children can bring new or gently used items instead of gifts. Allow the birthday boy or girl to select an organization to help. Also, take him or her along when you donate the items. Did you know that some of the 4th grade students at St. Matthew School have been hosting birthday parties for our sister school in Haiti since the first grade? In place of birthday gifts, they have collected monetary donations.
C: Conversations about Stewardship.How do we talk to our kids about stewardship?
1. Talk with children about the lives of saints and the ways they were good stewards.
2. Help children recognize that stewardship is something we do all the time. It is how we live our lives. Every decision we make about how we use our time or treasure is a stewardship decision.
3. Help children recognize the joy that comes from stewardship. Have your child discuss how they feel when they help someone else. Share your own good feelings about helping and giving.
4. Talk about the building up of the church throughout the world and the role stewardship plays in hospitals, schools, churches, and our community.
D: Definition. Stewardship: A way of living each day in gratitude for all the blessings God has given to us. Everything we have comes from God.
E: Envelopes. Use Envelopes! There is something tangible and concrete about using offering envelopes that a child can easily grasp. It’s almost like wrapping a present for Jesus. Grab some children’s envelopes from our ABC table in the gathering space or have your children decorate their own envelopes. Then REMEMBER the envelopes when you come to Mass and have your child bring them forward at offertory to the basket near the altar (except for Christmas and Easter seasons), or place the envelope in the basket as it is passed!
F: French Fries and Stewardship. Watch this video with your kids for a delicious demonstration of what stewardship looks like and what God wants us to do with our blessings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuprGFcGv9g
G: God’s Jar: Saving for God. We can probably all agree that teaching our children to start saving money when they are young is a good habit. We can teach our kids to save for the future and to save for God at the same time! Give your children 2 containers to decorate: You can use jars, old shoe boxes, cleaned out paint cans, etc. Gather art supplies such as paint, glue, markers, decorative scrapbook paper, stickers, or whatever art supplies they love, and let them decorate each container to their heart’s content. Have them label one container with their name and label the other container “God’s Jar.” For every $1 your children earn from allowance, babysitting, gifts, etc., have them place a dime in God’s Jar and the rest in their own container. Each Sunday they can take half of the money in God’s Jar and put it in a children’s offering envelope at church. If they don’t have money on any particular week, have them write a note of thanks to God about something for which they are grateful and place it in the envelope.
H: How does your child feel when he or she helps someone? Talk about it! Encourage your child to discuss how it feels when he or she helps someone, donates a toy, or gives some of their allowance to the church. Model for your child by sharing your own feelings about helping others. You could also ask the following questions:
— Do you think you would like to give again?
— What did you like about….?
— Do you have any ideas how we could help someone else?
By helping children identify and talk about the joy that comes from stewardship, children can learn that real happiness cannot be found in possessions.
I: Implement a Family Stewardship Prayer. Consider adding a family stewardship prayer to your daily or weekly routine. You could use the following prayer or find another that suits your family better.
Dear God, I thank you for everything you have given me. My gifts of time and talents are precious; help me realize that I need to share all my gifts with the Church and others. Help me be generous, forgiving, and holy. I offer you this day all I think, and do, and say. With the help of Jesus, your Son, I will try to love everyone. Amen
J: Just look at this example of children being great stewards.
K: Kind Acts = Great Stewardship
When you see an act of kindness happening, be sure to share with your child how that is stewardship.
— See someone share a toy…that’s kind and that’s stewardship.
— See someone recycle something…that’s kind and that’s stewardship.
— See someone helping someone in need…that’s kind and that’s stewardship.
L: List Their Gifts. God has given each of us a gift, and each time we use our gifts, we thank God for his blessing. Younger children are not as aware of their gifts as older children–they just know they love participating in a particular activity. Some children love to read, others love to draw, some love to talk, while others love to gather friends and organize activities. Whatever your children’s gifts are, list your children’s gifts. Talk to your children about their talents and talk about different ways they can use their gifts to help out in the world around them.
M: Model a Life of Stewardship. Talk to your children about your volunteer activities. Tell them what you enjoy about your volunteer work and how you are using your gifts. When you give money to your parish or special service organizations, talk to your children about why giving is important. Talk through the process with your children that using your talents and treasure is how you thank God for all of the blessings in your life.
N: Needs vs. Wants. Talk with your child about shopping decisions, about how we can waste money when others need it. Discuss the concept of the tithe, giving 10% back to God or the God jars discussed in earlier weeks. Discuss the difference between something we need and something we want. We may need soccer shoes to be part of the team–but having the most expensive or popular brand is only a “want” not a “need.”
One way to teach this lesson is by having your child cut out pictures in magazines of items that are wants and items that are needs. Glue the wants pictures on one side of the paper and the needs pictures on the other side. This provides a great visual to encourage conversation on this topic.
O: Organization That Can Benefit. Did you know that the Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis has several volunteer activities available for families?
— Volunteers can prepare and serve meals.
— Volunteers can sort, distribute, and organize donated items.
— Kid’s activities are needed on certain evenings and weekends for parent meetings or just for fun!
— Holy Family is always in need of donations. Families could host a donation drive.
For more information about these opportunities, check out its website at www.holyfamilyshelter.net.
P: Puzzle. Give your child the puzzle below to help him or her understand using your gifts as stewardship or grab a puzzle from the ABC Stewardship table in the gathering space: “Our Own Steward–St. Peter”
Connect the Dots. One of David’s gifts was playing an instrument. When King Saul felt bad, David would play his instrument. It would make Saul feel better. Connect the dots to see what instrument David played. What instrument was it?
Q: Questions to ask your children about stewardship:
— How did it feel to give?
— Do you think you’d like to give again?
— What did you like about (someone that is a giving role model)?
— Do you have any ideas about how we could help so and so?
— What do you think we could do with the toys you don’t play with anymore?
— What are ways you can show stewardship at school/at church/at home?
R: Recognize Your Child’s Gift: God has blessed each of us with gifts. We all have at least one thing we are good at, find we are happiest when engaging in that activity. The same is true for kids. Recognize your children’s gifts and let them know what gifts you see in them. Explain their gifts come from God and we thank God for our gifts when we use them to help others. Help your children find an activity that allows them to use their gifts to thank God. For example, good readers may enjoy reading to younger kids or at a nursing home; young artists can make posters for a food drive; eager young crafters can make items to sell for a charitable cause. The more your children use their gifts to thank God, the more their spirit of stewardship will begin to develop.
S: Sunday Mass: Just do it! Sunday is the Lord’s Day. It’s a day to pray, celebrate the Eucharist, and focus on the Lord. As our kids grow and their lives get busier, it feels like there is not enough time to get everything done. Some of us have to eat fast food in the car to have dinner in between activities. Those with more than one child often have to strategize a choreographed week of activity, like generals going into battle. Somedays we feel like all we do is kiss our spouse and kids goodbye. Enter Sunday Mass. People who lived 150 years before us were just as overloaded, doing things necessary for their survival. But Sunday was a sacred day of rest, prayer, and worship. Sunday has been given to us by God to gather and be with Him. Go to Mass as a family, worship as a family, pray as a family, and celebrate the Eucharist as a family. Let Sunday Mass be a time your children look back on as the most important time they spent with family each week.
T: Thankfulness/Gratitude:Start and/or end each day with “Thinking about Thanks”! Have your child share with you at breakfast/in the car/before bed/at bath time (you pick the time that works best for you) 3 things for which they are thankful. It is always great for you to share your examples as well!
U: Using God’s Stuff:When you are using or playing with something, get in the habit of thinking of it as God’s. Would you keep extra lights on? Throw trash out the window of your car? Throw away something that could be given to someone in need? Ask yourself: How would God treat this toy? Person? Our Earth, etc.?
V: Video about Stewardship. https://youtu.be/gQ4lIvi9rpk
W: Write Thank-You Notes. Writing a thank-you note to someone is a great example of stewardship. Ask your child to write a note to someone in the church, letting them know they appreciate their example of stewardship. We have many wonderful staff members and volunteers here at St. Matthew that would love a note or picture to brighten their day!
X: Extra Prayer. Talking with God is comfort when we are hurt; it is calming when we are anxious; it is direction when we don’t know which way to turn; it is gratitude when we are blessed; and it is our time with God. Teach your kids that they can talk to God any time and about anything. When you are helping them through a struggle, remind them to talk to God too. When they are happy about something, remind them to thank God. Whenever you see an opportunity to pray with your children about something, stop and take a moment to pray together.
Y: Why Do We Give to the Church? Stewardship built our church, and stewardship keeps our church running. Stewardship is action. Over the course of many years, individuals and families (including kids), prayed and gave their time, talent, and treasure that created the St. Matthew building and our active St. Matthew Catholic Church community. God used the time, talent, and treasure given by these people to provide a physical space where worship can happen freely and comfortably (the building); a community of Christians for us to worship with (spiritual growth and Christian fellowship and support); and opportunities for each of us to make a difference in the St. Matthew community and community around our church (service to the poor and hungry in Indianapolis and beyond). Talk to your children about how each generation has helped build the St. Matthew community and point out one example of each when you encounter them at church.
Z: Zero In on Family Stewardship. Bring it all together! Pray together as a family this week and create a 2020 stewardship plan for your family. Identify each family member’s talents and pick out one or two age-appropriate opportunities for your children to use their talents in 2020. Look for one or two family opportunities to serve together at church and in the community in 2020. Make Sunday Mass a weekly family priority and worship together in 2020.