How to Talk to Your Students About Money

This past weekend was called Stewardship Weekend for our church.  It’s the one weekend a year when we celebrate our church community and talk to the congregation about why their financial investment is so important.  It sounds like an awkward concept; however, as our pastor puts it, “Even families need to take care of business from time to time, this is the weekend (Stewardship Weekend) we do just that.”  

Since this is a church wide effort, we also discuss financial stewardship, giving and tithing to our kids and students.  To lead up to this weekend we do an entire series on money and God.  It’s no easy task; however, over the years we’ve seen an increase in giving from this next generation.  

Not sure what your views are when it comes to money; however, it’s a necessary subject for student ministries.  It not only determines the health of your church; but, the health of your teens as disciples of Christ.  To properly talk about money in your student ministry you need to:

  • Make It Simple: Money is overwhelming and confusing unless you are a natural born accountant.  To many teenagers it might feel like something they don’t have to figure out until they are older.  While there is truth to that, if they don’t learn the basic uses of money (SAVE, GIVE, SPEND), then they’ll struggle with managing it wisely.
  • Connect It To Their Faith: On top of teaching your teens to spend, save and give; you want to make sure you drive home the fact that God wants them to be shrewd, simple and selfless with their money.  Faith and money are tied together and to drive this home point to readings like Malachi 3:10, Matthew 6:24 or Luke 16:1-10.  Show them why God not only cares about what they give, but how they spend and save money as well.
  • Build Them A Budget: Money can be complicated; however, showing them how to build a budget with God in mind is key.  Help them calculate how much money they earn, and what to do with it’s first fruits.  Let them see how they can track their spending, so that they can avoid future pitfalls like debt.  Working with them on a budget is key to preparing them for the next phase of their life journey. 
  • Bring Their Parents Into The Mix:  Even if your adult services aren’t speaking about money, you need to include the parents.  Get the conversation rolling at home by equipping your parents with tools, offering a workshop or inviting them to sit in on your student program.  If the conversations are not happening at home, then you’ll find yourself working uphill to build this habit.  The best thing you can do is encourage your pastor to make this a priority church wide.
  • Raise Givers Not Funds: Youth ministries should not be fundraising.  I know that sounds extreme; but, fundraising is a short term solution.  Teens need to be taught the importance and value of giving to the church.  To make this happen give them a plan.  Incorporate it into their budgets and give them examples of how they can give.  By raising givers it’s a step of moving your students from consumers to contributors.  While eliminating fundraisers all together might not be the wisest first step; make sure you develop a plan to ween yourself off of them. 

Finances are personal, even for teenagers.  It’s easy to think like an owner because there are so many voices out there saying, “You deserve it.”, “You earned it.” and, “It’s yours.”  It’s important that we teach teens to be God honoring with their finances.  It’s important to teach them how to invest in the local church.  It’s a process that takes time because it’s a paradigm shift.  

Before you begin, sit down with your pastor to make it a church wide effort.  Talk about it at least once a year where you are directly encouraging people to fuel the movement of God’s church.  Raise givers not funders and you will see your youth ministry and church grow.

What are your thoughts on fundraisers?  How do you talk with students about money?  

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Chris Wesley
Chris graduated from Xavier University in 2003 with a BA in Communications: Electronic Media. He moved to Baltimore in the fall of 2003 where he served as a Jesuit Volunteer for a year. During that time, he was a Case Manager at Chase Brexton, met my wife Kate and felt God's calling to Student Ministry. In the summer of 2004, heI was hired by the Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as a Middle School Youth Minister. Today he oversees grades 5-12 as the Director of Student Ministry.

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