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Alright Children, Cough It Up

The basket was coming around while I swung my feet above the carpet, barely grazing the surface with my World Industry shoes. The loose dollar was crumpled in a ball at the bottom of my pocket. I had no concept of money at the time. A dollar bill held the same weight as a Benjamin would have. I sat there eagerly watching the basket as it made its rounds to all the desks arranged in the classroom. It finally came to me and I place my parent’s dollar into the basket, feeling a sense of accomplishment wash over me. More than accomplishment, I did something good.

Flash forward twenty something years and I found myself in another church setting. This time a church I picked out independently. I was attending, interning and heavily involved at this one. I volunteered in the Kid’s Ministry because I was told it helped build a man, whatever that means. Anyways, as I taught in there, part of the curriculum was to ask for tithes. I did this at first, but eventually stopped. It felt weird asking kids with fingers in their noses and still learning to color within the lines to dig deep in their wallets and give some money.

The concept itself is disturbing. The only angle I could see is possibly training children to see money as something that they are to be a steward of? Other than that, I see no reason why you could prod a six year old for money. The only way they would have any money to give would be if their parents gave them some to give, like me when I was little. But then at that point, are we just playing a game? Are we just acting out a charade? It all becomes a gimmick. The parents give money to their kids so they can participate in this suspect act of giving the church money. We teach our children to give money without wondering where it is going and that this is something God deems as “good.”

I’m not against churches passing the basket, it makes sense to me. It makes sense for mature, adult humans to find a community they enjoy and to give of their earnings how they wish out of a cheerful heart. But a game with children where we train them to be “good” for God and give money without any awareness seems sick to me. Then again, I don’t have the opportunity to profit off any children, maybe I would do it too.

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