In continuing in our effort to address engaging young adults in generosity, I have read and reviewed Growing Up Generous: Engaging Youth in Giving and Serving, written by Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Elanah Dalyah Naftali, and Laura Musegades. This text, published in 2000, provides timeless tips for nurturing generosity in youth.
Chapter 1: Nurturing Generosity as a Way of Life
There is a particular focus in this chapter on faith traditions and their specific connections and experience with stewardship throughout history. There is also a discussion on how to create a culture of generosity in your congregation; there are eight key concepts that the authors list as essential to forming a generous culture.
Chapter 2: The Unexplored World of Youth, Money and Giving
There is a discussion here about youth of today and their particular patterns as consumers as well as information on advertising focused on youth. This chapter also focuses on financial literacy and youth, and the importance of financial education from an early age.
Chapter 3: Obstacles to Addressing Money and Giving with Youth
There is a deep discussion in this chapter on some of the largest obstacles that we face when addressing stewardship issues with youth. There is recognition by the authors that some adults feel uncomfortable talking about money and that many people may experience financial anxiety. This chapter also addresses some of the stereotypes that individuals often have when concerning youth and money; that they shouldn’t be expected to give, that they don’t have money, or that if they are asked to give they might decide to leave the church. This chapter provides invaluable information about these and many other obstacles that might come up when engaging youth in stewardship but also analyzes these obstacles and explains why they are harmful.
Chapter 4: Serving Others: An Emerging Emphasis
This chapter analyzes all-things-service learning, and explains how there has been a movement in recent years of youth being heavily involved in service learning. The authors also explore service learning in and through congregations. Lastly, obstacles that come up for youth engaging in service work are also addressed.
Chapter 5: Rethinking Youth Giving and Serving
There is a focus on how to face the obstacles presented in earlier chapters and logically respond in the most receptive, respectful, and engaging way. The authors discuss developmental assets in youth, and how these assets contribute to healthy youth development, which in turn leads to higher levels of generosity. Additionally, the authors tackle eight cultural shifts that need to occur in congregations in order to effectively nurture generous youth.
The final two chapters, Chapter 6: Creating a Culture of Generosity, and Chapter 7: Cultivating the Practices of Generosity focus on eight keys to giving and serving in congregations. The first four keys emphasize creating a generous culture in a congregation, while the last focus on practices of generosity.
We hope that this review may assist your congregation with effective strategies to create, or build on, youth stewardship practices.
Since these underlying program assumptions are supported by research literature, we might assume the guide is achieving the ultimate goal of resource conservation. On the other hand, this chain of outcomes illustrates a challenge inherent in our educational or interpretive efforts toward resource stewardship. Often our more significant behavioral goals are assumed to follow, and instead we focus on the short-term outcomes that are more easily emphasized in our programs and materials and measured in evaluation. At some point we need to ask, for example, if our goal is increasing youth involvement in fishing, how can our programs actually get kids fishing? Or if our goal is resource stewardship, how can our programs get kids participating as stewards of the resources around them?