From generation to generation
November 19, 2018 by Presbyterian Foundation
Blog by the Rev. Jon Reinink, Church Support Associate, Special Offerings, the Presbyterian Mission Agency
The Presbyterian Giving Catalog can help teach children about generosity
As Presbyterians, we are bound together. We are not bound together by culture, but rather by the grace of Jesus and through the love of God and neighbor. As a people with a deep connection, we respond in gratitude to the Spirit, which empowers us to share the love of Christ, working with one another for justice, peace, and freedom. As we practice our own expressions of that gratitude through giving of ourselves and resources, we are not only directing our own energy in a way that glorifies God, but we are also influencing the little ones whose eyes and ears catch what we do and say. They learn from us how to become grateful and generous people.
The Presbyterian Giving Catalog is one way that we can participate in God’s work in the world while consciously discipling our younger members to become Spirit-led and mission-focused givers. The Catalog, recently published in its sixth iteration, has become a tool that many Presbyterians use as a way of learning about, supporting, and participating in Presbyterian mission. It has been found by many to be a relatable and understandable way for children.
Some congregations have used the catalog to interpret their Sunday school offerings and/or vacation Bible school offerings. As children contribute toward the goal of a family of chickens, a garden well, or a community farm bundle, a bridge is built between the offering and their faith. This message becomes clear: in worship, we give so others can have food, water, and livelihoods. At First Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Michigan, a “Blessing of the Goats” was held to celebrate the Sunday school’s ability to raise enough money to purchase a pair of goats. They surrounded a real goat (visiting from a local farm) and prayed that those receiving the goats would be blessed just as God had blessed those who gave them.
To illustrate the reach of the Catalog, there are downloadable stories of impact and thankful responses to the Catalog and the ministries it supports. They serve as encouragements and learning opportunities for children, their parents, and their educators. They show how giving $10 or $40 can glorify God and share God’s love. One story tells about Marie, a farmer in Torbeck, Haiti, who sings songs of God’s goodness. After a powerful storm destroyed her crops and everything she had, God’s love was shown to her through the seeds and tools provided to her because of gifts to the Catalog. Thinking about how seeds and farming tools can change lives may seem foreign and awkward for us, especially in worship, but through them, our giving can be a beautiful display of God’s love. The catalog helps us teach our children that in gratitude, we generously share our blessings, and in turn, God is praised through the lives of others who are helped.
Additional educational resources that deepen our connection to mission are available through the Presbyterian Giving Catalog website. Besides a variety of lesson plans and activity sheets that can guide educators, the website includes the Catalog’s Jerry Can curriculum, a free resource with five lessons worth of instruction, stories, and activities. It serves to help children understand the significant needs that exist around the world and how they can respond by sharing God’s love through prayer, giving, and service.
Visit the Presbyterian Giving Catalog website to see what connections you can make. Get an Impact Guide to explore connecting it with your congregation, or order a startup kit and begin using it to participate in Presbyterian mission with your congregation today.