We can be sure that the children and youth around us are observing our money habits, sometimes in surprising detail. On a shopping trip with my then young children, one of them was pestering me to buy something that they all wanted. After using a lack of cash as an excuse not to buy the item, my child pressed me, saying, “You know you can pay for it. You have that card.”
It was definitely time for me to talk with my children about how credit cards work! I explained to them that whenever I paid for an item with a credit card, I wanted to make sure there was enough money in my account to pay for every purchase.
Money is complicated. On top of that, we live in a world saturated with advertising. Ads tell our children and youth that they are what they buy. We need to counter these messages with conversation that we are more than the products in our lives. We certainly don’t want to end up admitting, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
To encourage money conversations between youth and their adult mentors in church, Mennonite Foundation of Canada offers “Money Matters for Youth,” a free online resource at http://mennofoundation.ca/mmfy. The hope is that the information and activities included on this site can stimulate conversations about this taboo subject in our churches. From fun facts about Canadian currency to “The Needs vs. Wants Prayer,” each session weaves practical information together with a spiritual connection. Topics include:
- Biblical perspectives on money: Whose money is it anyway?
- What spending says about us: Budgeting and understanding debt.
- Learning to defer gratification: Saving for future dreams.
- Raising our standard of giving: God invites us to share.
The message throughout is that choices we make with our money can either draw us closer to God’s heart or move us farther away.
In the final session, youth are invited to reflect on the quote, “Credit cards have made it possible to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.” We must admit that, no matter what our age, we are tempted to impress.
“Money Matters for Youth” doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but we hope it sparks conversations across generations about the mechanics of money and the values that shape our money choices. Perhaps we’ll all learn something, have some fun in the process and avoid the temptation to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Dori Zerbe Cornelsen is a stewardship consultant in the Winnipeg office of Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC). For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit http://MennoFoundation.ca.