“We don’t ask students to give in our church. They don’t have much money as it is and it’s a debt isn’t it? So we just ask them to come and receive.”
This is an exact quote from a church leader I spoke to a few years ago and I’ve heard something similar on many other occasions. It’s untrue, unhelpful, unbiblical and robs students of a great Heavenly blessing.
It’s true that most students have student loans nowadays. But this is a large and robust system that allows students to have an income to live on. They spend this money on everything they need. If they can afford to spend money on nights out, flat whites and new Nikes, they can afford to give! If they have it to spend, they have it to give. That’s the same for all of us. Why would we not invite the whole church to give generously and joyfully from their means?
Having students in your church is a great opportunity to teach and disciple them in ways that will change the way they live for the rest of their life. Learning how to give, and not be held back by money is a crucial part of anyone’s faith journey with Jesus. In fact, Jesus spoke more about money than most other subjects!
"...we are simply asking students to consume and not contribute."
In Luke 21:1-4, Jesus makes it clear that even when someone gives a small amount willingly, they have given more than someone giving loads with strings attached. Assuming students “can’t give much” is both judgemental and irrelevant. We have no idea what someone feels stirred to give and it’s not our concern.
The final part of that quote was, “So we just ask them to come and receive.” - If we do the we are simply asking students to consume and not contribute. I realise there are other ways to give, but if we fill our kids work rotas and PA rotas with students serving but don’t invite them to contribute financially, we are exacerbating the sense of them not being proper adults yet - which is false. Students aren’t an extension of youth group. They are adults who are learning rhythms and values that will last a lifetime.
In our church, we have learned not to assume. We simply invite everyone to give. Some students give as much as £100 per month and some have given individual gifts over over a thousand pounds. In each occasion, we have double checked they can afford to do this and are doing so freely.
So let me encourage you to let go of any worldly attitude to finance in your church. We are all part of God’s Kingdom and everything in Heaven and Earth belongs to him, the King! As his children, we are all invited into the stewardship of these resources, student or otherwise.
Next time you invite people to give to your church, make sure you invite the students too!