Are Unchurched Kids More Generous Than Churched Kids?

A new study by Current Biology says kids from religious households are less generous than kids from non-religious households.

The study involved 1,170 kids ages 5 to 12 from 6 different countries and explored the degree to which religion is linked to children's generosity to strangers.

The research included kids playing a game that involved giving out stickers to anonymous participants in their peer group.  Kids raised in religious households were less generous in terms of giving to others.

This study can be countered by previous studies which indicate that people with a religious affiliation are more likely to give to charity than those who don't identify with any religion.  These studies include charitable giving to churches and other faith-based charities - which is where the biggest share of charitable giving goes.

The conclusion: churched kids are more generous when you include giving to churches and faith-based organizations.  Perhaps the churched kids would have given away more stickers in the game mentioned above if they had been told the donation was going to a church.

Here are some takeaways from this for us as children's ministry leaders...
  • We need to do a better job at teaching kids the importance of being generous with individual people.  It's important to teach kids about the "big picture" they are giving to, but we must balance this with helping them seeing people's individual needs as well.  Looks like we need to spend more time emphasizing Matthew 25.
Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?  Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality?  Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
  • We must help kids extend their generosity outside of Sunday morning.  Generosity is not just something we do on Sunday morning when the offering plate passes's a way of life.  We must teach kids that random acts of generosity are great opportunities to show Jesus' love.  Generosity opens people's hearts to listen to what you have to say.  If you want someone who is hungry to listen to the Gospel...feed them first.
  • The fact that churched kids give primarily to churches shows that we are helping them see the value of giving to the local church.  As Christians, we not only give a cup of cold water...we give a cup of cold water in Jesus' name.  There is a difference and it's great we're helping kids understand this.
Here's more help to teach kids about generosity...
Christmas Offering Strategy
Teaching Kids It's Better to Give Than Receive 
Teaching Kids to Be Generous

Your turn.  The floor is yours.   What can we do to help kids be more generous?