Teen Disposable Income And Generosity

My church is doing a series on tithing and generosity. And it has made me think about the giving of this generation of young people. Most stats prove that teens spend about 200 billion dollars every year. They are big time consumers. And I would like to see the church capitalize (sorry for the pun) on this spending trend for the benefit of poverty, starvation, and Mission.

The problem with this is that most of us have never outgrown the childish desire to take and to hold. When a child has a grip on their favorite toy they cannot be separated from it very easily. If a child is set upon wearing a certain shirt and you try to redress them, you are in for a battle. In the same way, all of us have to grow into giving.

A quick glance at the numbers shows that we haven't grown much in our generosity.

-Only about 12% of evangelicals
-The number of churches who reported decline in giving in the church increased to 36% from 28% a year ago
-The average American only gives between 1% and 3% of their income to any charity
-Although only about 12% of people tithe, 78% of churchgoers have given an offering at least once a month

Numbers like that can invoke a lot of opinion. What I want to focus upon is generosity. What could happen if the church would give the biblical command to tithe? If believers were to increase their giving to a minimum of, let's say, 10 percent there would be an additional $165 billion for churches to use and distribute. The global impact would be phenomenal. Here's just a few things the Church could do with the kind of money: 

-$25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation and deaths from preventable diseases in five years
-$12 billion could eliminate illiteracy in five years
-$15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day
-$1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work
-$100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion

Those are some amazing numbers. So how do we increase giving (and not just tithing) amongst the youth in our culture? Here are 4 ways to see our youth involved in greater generosity: 

1. FOCUS ON THE PROBLEM - The real problem is not about money but about the heart. As Jesus said in Matthew 6, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:21-23)

2. MODEL GIVING - As youth leaders we have to model giving in our daily lives. When young people see us as givers, it will be easy for them to follow. Do they hear us talking about giving, paying for a meal for them, or even living on less. Because parents give most of the teen disposable income (87%) to their children, what about asking teens to give part of that to the church? 

3. PRESENT A CAUSE - One thing I have learned about young people in 30 years working with them is that they love a cause. When you can clearly define a need to youth they will step up and do something about it. It might be money for a well in Africa or donated clothes for the homeless in their community.

4. TELL THE STORY - If you praise a kid for giving they will fall in love with giving. We don't tell our stories in Christianity very well. We must celebrate wins better. It isn't humility to keep a good deed hidden. I understand privacy and motive with our tithing records, but, I don't believe our motives are carnal to publish His works through a teens giving. It could
also stir others to good deeds.

Remember that teen disposable income spending in America is about 200 billion dollars every year. If we fail to teach and model and create generosity in our teens we fail to direct that money to the kingdom.