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by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller


I often wonder how to cultivate a sense of generosity and giving in my toddler daughter. How do I talk about the gifts of giving our time and resources and money to others? How do I model my own desire for simplicity when we’re surrounded by such an abundance?
How do we cultivate her desire to share?


I have many unanswered questions, but continue to be grateful to the church for being a place that teaches and models what it means to be a giver.


Church is great for kids in that there are routines and familiarity when you go to church weekly. Kids know what comes next and what to expect. It becomes natural to them to sit and stand and sing and pray.


Each Sunday during the offering I witness something in my daughter. I witness that it’s becoming natural for my daughter to give an offering. Each week when the offering plate comes by I give my daughter a dollar bill. She doesn’t understand what money is yet, but she sees me take it out of my purse and give it to her. She sees me put money in the offering plate, she sees her neighbors putting money in the offering plate, and she then follows and places her dollar bill in the offering plate.

As a pastor I witnessed so many young children enthralled with the idea of the offering. They would smile when handed some bills or coins and happily place their offering into the plate. I once saw a three-year-old boy run down the aisle after the usher as he had missed placing his money in the offering plate.


Kids are generally joyful givers when it comes to the offering.

My daughter is no exception.


Sometimes she’ll make a big display about throwing her bill into the plate.

Sometimes she’ll follow the usher until he reaches our pews.

Sometimes she’ll meet the usher before he even reaches us.

And all the time, she has a smile on her face.


Perhaps at this time, that is enough.
To be a part of a community that gives and serves.

To be a part of a community that welcomes the gifts and talents of all people and ages.

To keep showing up to worship and giving my daughter opportunities to share.



Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of a toddler, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is


Image: Children’s Offering


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Don Burr

When our four year-old grand-daughter attends worship with us, we are sure to provide a traditional offering envelope for a few bills. We seal the money in the envelope together and talk about returning some of our money to God. In addition, we give her two pennies to drop in the plate with her envelope, in the hope that she will someday make a connection with the story of the Widow’s Mite. She doesn’t attend traditional church school or nursery care, as she enjoys worship; and makes a point to exchange the Peace with each person in the nave.

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