Mom, Why Didn’t You Put Any Money in the Offering? The Downside of Automatic Withdrawal

Kara Powell

Recently our church had an intergenerational worship service.  It was a pleasure to be with my family, and a host of other families and single folks, in the same room at the same time. 

When the offering plate was passed around, our 6 year-old, Jessica, asked, “Mom, why didn’t you put any money in the offering?” 

“Because we don’t believe in tithing,” I answered. 


It’s because we do the vast, vast majority of our giving through online processes. 

Dave and I have wondered what message we are sending to our kids when they rarely see us give.  Sure, we have together sat around the computer and given some joint family money to  But that’s not something they see regularly. 

When Jessica asked the question, Dave wisely answered, “Jessica, the next time that we give money to our church online, would you like to help?” 

Jessica smiled and said, “Yes.”  (We don’t do a lot of technology in our house so she takes advantage of any opportunity to be in front of the computer.) 

I can’t help but wonder, what do we wish our kids were “seeing” that they no longer see because we do it when they’re not around?  Some immediate thoughts that come to my mind are:

  • The way we pray.  Kids are often asleep or out of the room (after all, that’s the only way we have focused “quiet” time, right?).
  • The way we read Scripture.
  • How we give money, and to whom we give it.
  • When we have the chance to talk about our faith with others.
  • Ministry opportunities when they’re not in the room (i.e., leadership roles at church or in the community).

As a parent, I was reminded by Jessica’s question of the challenge—and opportunity—to talk with our kids about what we’re doing when they’re not around.  Maybe it’s the way we share stories about our day over dinner or in the car as we’re driving to basketball practice.  Perhaps it’s what we pray about together.  I’m not talking about lecturing; I’m talking about organic sharing.

What do you wish your kids knew about your faith?  When/how can you let them know that important part of who you are and what you do?

Published Sep 24, 2012
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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