What We Tell Our Students About Tithing

We are in the middle of a 6 week series about priorities.  The first couple of weeks have been focused on time and now we are making a transition to finances.  I’m somewhat excited about the topic because I want to see teens change their habits.  I don’t want my students to have debt, I want them to give to God, and honor Him with how they manage their money.

As youth workers we don’t talk about how to teach our students about tithing.  We talk about how to stretch our budgets, how to recruit free labor and how to fundraise, but why not tithing?  We need to because:

  • Money Can Be An Obstacle: You can’t serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).  That’s a battle a lot of people face.  It’s something we think we can control; however, in the end it can control us.  We love and trust money because it pays the bills and buys us nice things and then we get dependent.  We forget that it’s God who we need.  We need to teach the students that tithing is an act of saying, “God, I don’t need anything but you, and to prove it I’m giving my first fruits over to you.”  Isn’t that what Zacchaeus did with Jesus? (Luke 19:1-10)
  • Tithing Can Grow The Church:  I feel dirty at times asking people to give to the church because I know that when they do that money supports me.  But it’s not about salary, it’s about growing the church, because we can’t do what we need to do without money.  Yeah we need God but God also wants us to use our resources wisely, and you can’t do that if you don’t buy resources.  Plus we need money as a church to bring clean drinking water to different countries, to end sex trafficking and transform neighborhoods.  We need money to create more space on our campus, to create an environment that’s welcoming to new comers.  Yeah we could do a fundraiser, but in the end those cost more time, energy and even money than what’s worth it.  We should want our students to know that their tithing grows the church because they are investing in His kingdom.
  • Giving Improves Our Relationships:  God tells us to tithe.  He even says, “Test me in this!” (Malachi 3:10) why?  Because He wants to bless us.  Don’t we want our students to be blessed?  Of course, so why aren’t we teaching them this habit?  We’re telling them that they will get to know God by reading the Bible, that they’ll be rested through quiet prayer, but what about being spoiled by His love?  We need to make sure they know that when they give to God they can expect big returns.  And when we allow God to bless us we allow Him to set our lives in order, which means we have time and margin to work on our family, to be with friends and to reach out to others.

Maybe we don’t talk about money with our students or each other because we’re bad at tithing ourselves.  Or maybe it’s because we’re afraid about comparing budgets and salaries, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I want to make sure that the students that I serve know that God wants them to be spoiled.  I want them to know that money cannot give them anything more than what He can provide.  I want them to know that it is a tool, a resource that can help fuel the church and create change.  But I feel like I’m just saying the same stuff over and over again to them, I want them to be passionate about giving in the same way they are passionate about reading His word.
So again, why don’t we talk about how we teach tithing?  And if you teach it, how do you go about it?