Home Equipping Leaders Children Christian Education Week 2024

Christian Education Week 2024

By Kevin Johnson

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Partners in Faith Formation & Discipleship: Generosity


Through Christian education, we invite people and communities of faith to be transformed as they are inspired and challenged to:

  • Know and experience God through Jesus Christ,
  • Claim and live God’s promises, and
  • Grow and serve as Christian disciples.

From Foundations: Shaping the Ministry of Christian Education in Your Congregation

Luke 8:16-18, New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

A Lamp under a Jar

16 “No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar or puts it under a bed; rather, one puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. 18 So pay attention to how you listen, for to those who have, more will be given, and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”

In the early church, Christians gave to one another without worry for themselves. They saw their role as caring for every person God placed in their paths; they were stewards of all God’s people. In Acts, we discover, “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45, NRSVUE).

Throughout our scriptures, stewardship reaches deep into our tradition. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the word “stewardship” as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care.” This definition resonates as we read through the first chapters of Genesis, as God took a formless void and made the earth. We are made in the image of God and entrusted with the care of the earth and all that is in it. In both Leviticus (chapter 25) and Deuteronomy (chapters 8,15, and 26), we learn of God’s gift of the earth and the importance of our caring for it. Several places in the Old Testament that speak to stewardship include Psalms (8:6-8, 24:1, 50:10-11, 12b), Ezekiel (18:4). and Haggai (2:8). These verses remind us that God is the owner of all things.

In the New Testament, we read from both Matthew and Luke’s Gospel that Jesus spoke to the crowds about stewardship. In Mathew 25:1-13, we are reminded that we will not be included if we aren’t prepared. Luke 8:16-18 provides the imagery of a lamp to explain the importance of using our gifts. Later in Luke’s Gospel (21:1-4), Jesus responds to the people who were giving money in the Temple, as he points out that it’s not the amount, but the way it is given. We are reminded later in Luke (12:31-34) that our heart is where our treasure is.

Perhaps the true meaning of “stewardship” can be found in Acts 4:32-35 (NRSVUE):

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

It is a challenge to teach children about stewardship. Even as adults, we sometimes limit our understanding of stewardship to monetary giving. If we embrace this understanding and model it to our children, true stewardship becomes difficult. From a Christian perspective, stewardship should include an expansive definition of generosity. By setting a pattern and habits of generosity, we (adults) model a generous lifestyle that will enable children to pay attention to our actions. Our actions should demonstrate that having a generous lifestyle and being good stewards are important. Our actions speak louder than our words. After all, Jesus pointed out that our actions show where our hearts are (Matthew 6:21).

The 2024 Christian Education Week resource focuses on generosity and being good stewards of what God has provided to us. This resource serves as a catalyst for teaching children how to appreciate and live lives filled with generosity. It provides leaders in your congregation an opportunity to consider how they can be good stewards themselves. Learning about and experiencing generosity in a life filled with the love of God is vital.

This resource is intended to help you plan your Christian Education Week/Sunday celebration. The release of this resource coincides with and reinforces Earth Day, which is held annually in April. (See earthday.org.) However, Christian Education Week can be celebrated in the church at any time during the calendar year. Check with your annual conference to determine if a date has been set for this occasion and if the conference receives a special offering to support educational ministries.

This celebration may be combined with ministries in your church that are involved with stewardship. Find creative ways to recognize and celebrate generous stewards in your church and community. Make this a celebration of God’s love and provision in your midst and God’s call to be good stewards of our world.

Worship Resources


  • W&S=Worship and Song
  • TFWS=The Faith We Sing
  • UMH=United Methodist Hymnal

Hymn suggestions

  • Take My Life, and Let It Be UMH 399
  • Bless Thou the Gifts UMH 587
  • What Gift Can We Bring UMH 87
  • Together We Serve TFWS 2175
  • Sent Out in Jesus’ Name/Enviado Soy de Dios TFWS 2184
  • They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love TFWS 2223
  • Take, O Take Me As I Am W&S 3119
  • Amazing Abundance W&S 3120
  • How Shall I Come Before the Lord W&S 3124
  • Touch the Earth Lightly W&S 3129

Call to Worship

We worship the God who inhabits our world and indwells our lives.

We need not look up to find God; we need only look around: within ourselves, beyond ourselves, into the eyes of another.

We need not listen for distant thunder to find God;

we need only listen to the music of life, the words of children,

the questions of the curious, the rhythm of a heartbeat.

We worship the God who inhabits our world and who indwells our lives.

Written by John W. Howell, Touch Holiness: Resources for Worship, Updated, ed. Ruth C. Duck and Maren C. Tirabassi (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2012), 186.

For use in worship, use the following permissions statement:

Reprinted by permission of the publisher from Touch Holiness, ed. Ruth C. Duck and Maren C. Tirabassi. Copyright © 1990 by The Pilgrim Press.

Children’s Message/Devotion

Psalm 8:3-6, New International Reader's Version

I think about the heavens.
I think about what your fingers have created.
I think about the moon and stars
that you have set in place.
4What are human beings that you think about them?
What is a son of man that you take care of him?
5You have made them a little lower than the angels.
You placed on them a crown of glory and honor.
6You made human beings rule over everything your hands created.
You put everything under their control.

New International Reader's Version (NIRV) Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you ever been outside and looked up into the night sky at the stars? Have you ever been on an ocean beach and looked out beyond the waves? It seems that the stars or the waves go on forever, doesn’t it? The stars and ocean waves are so much bigger than we can imagine.

This psalm assures us that even though we might seem small, God loves us and has given us important work to do. God shows us the beautiful creation full of birds in the sky, fish in the water, and other animals as well. God entrusts each of us to love and care for all of God’s creation. Entrust means that we care for something else. It means that we are in charge of something. God trusts us to take care of the earth and every living creature on the earth. God's creation is too important to be left to the care of strangers or those who do not worship God. Followers of Jesus are God's hands and feet on the earth!

Read Psalm 8:3-6.

Questions to ask:

  • "How do you feel when you think about everything God created?”
  • “I wonder if you realize that people are God's most special creation."
  • "I wonder how it makes you feel when you hear that God has entrusted care of planet Earth to those who follow Jesus.”
  • “How do you feel knowing God placed us in charge of caring for the earth and all living creatures?”
  • “I wonder if you have seen humans caring for the earth, as God intended. Can you provide examples of what you have seen?”
  • “Can you name some ways that you can care for God’s creation?”

One way we can understand how God entrusts us to care for creation is to plant and grow something. (Provide each child with a seed that, over time, will sprout and grow based on the child taking care of it. Remind the children that it might take time for the seed to sprout. You could find a location on the church property and collectively nurture and care for the plants.)

Encourage children to think of one way that they could become more involved in caring for God's creation. Perhaps the children would want to begin a recycling project or plant a garden. Suggestions might include:

  • Volunteering at the local humane society.
  • Beginning a recycling pickup in the neighborhood.
  • Adopting a stretch of highway as a family and regularly picking up the litter.
  • Helping other members of the congregation build a home through Habitat for Humanity.


Maker of ALL things, thank you for creating me and caring for me. Thank you for trusting me enough to give me the important work of caring for ALL creation. Show me something that I can do to make a difference. Help me to take care of your beautiful world. Amen.

Questions for family discussion:

  • Why do some people take care of God's earth while others do not care for it?
    • Recite the Lord’s Prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven.”
      • How can you help make Earth more heavenly and cared for?
  • How can we help Christians understand that God trusts them to care for all creation?
  • What are some ways children can make a difference in caring for God's creation?
  • What is one thing you would like to begin doing to care for God's earth?

Reference tools to offer tips, links, and further discussion for parents and leaders to read and learn more:

  • UMC Social Principles
  • UMC Church and Society
  • UMC Creation Justice Ministry
  • UMC Book of Resolutions - Resolution #1033 Caring for Creation: A Call to Stewardship and Justice: “Our covenant with God calls us to steward, protect, and defend God’s creation…The story of the Garden (Genesis 2) reveals the complete and harmonious interrelatedness of creation, with humankind designed to relate to God, one another, and the rest of the created order…Violating the integrity of our relationship with creation is sinful…”


Faithful God,
you have called us to be a light shining in the world.
Make us reflect the light of Christ,
so that people see your love and goodness
in our words and actions.
We ask this through your Son, our Lord,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

Posted on the LCA Worship Planning Page, http://www.lca.org.au/worship/cowadmin/?p=5594. Re-posted on the re:Worship blog at https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2014/01/prayer-reflecting-light-of-christ.html.


  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
  • Acts 2:42-47
  • Genesis 1:26-31

Offertory Prayer:

We Give You but Your Own

We give you but your own. We cannot claim ownership for what we have. They are your blessings to us. Teach us to be good stewards, to develop a good sense of accountability so that we may not waste or hoard. Prepare us for that great day of accountability when we shall make our report of the use of our skills, talents, time, energy, money, and relationships. We remember those who have the desire but not the means to give in ways that are expected. Reassure them that they too are in the kingdom-building business as they share who they are—even if they have nothing tangible to offer. Receive all our gifts as we bring them in thanksgiving. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Written by T. Anne Daniel, The Africana Worship Book, Year C (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2008), 183.


Our Enlivening God calls us to be salt —
to add flavor to the world.
Our Enlivening God calls us to be light —
to add illumination and beauty to the world.
Our Enlivening God calls us to be courageous —
to respond to the needs of the world,
so that God’s presence may be revealed
to all the world.
Amen! And Amen!

Posted on the website of the Caldwell United Methodist Church. http://www.caldwellumc.org/. Re-posted on the re:Worship blog at https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2014/01/benediction-matthew-5-13-16.html.

A Litany of Dedication for Christian Educators, Leaders, and Learners

One: God provides us with everything we need in abundance

Congregation: So that we may do every good work.

One: Today we remember that God calls us to teach and serve one another as we grow in our faith and gives us every good gift to answer the call.

Congregation: We give thanks for the students who desire to grow in their faith and relationship with God.

One: As we learn and teach the stories of our faith, may we be ever mindful of how we model the generosity of Christ in the world.

Congregation: We give thanks for the opportunities we have to learn and model our faith. We pray that we may learn together how to be an example of Christ’s generosity.

One: Help us to embody God’s generosity as we give what we have to love, nurture, and support one another.

ALL: Grant us wisdom and discernment to lead and model Christ-like stewardship in our homes, classrooms, communities, and world. Amen.

Becoming a Stewardship Hero Workshop

(Bonus chapter in the book Let the Children Give provides ideas/suggestions for a mini retreat).

Time: 75-90 minutes


By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. describe generosity and stewardship through the lens of faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. identify generous heroes in their community and world.
  3. incorporate prayer practices for stewardship into faith formation and life



  • Publicize the workshop and its purpose.
  • Pray for those who will attend.
  • Gather materials.
  • Make copies of all handouts as well as instructions for each of the learning centers.
  • Arrange chairs as desired (circle or around round tables) for total group time with newsprint or whiteboard and markers ready to use with the total group.
  • Prepare learning centers. Ideally, each center will have its own table or space. If you have a large group, you may want to prepare two stations for each center.
  • Place the needed instructions, handouts, and supplies for the learning centers on the tables.

Getting Started (About 15 minutes)

Invite participants to make name tags. If you have provided refreshments, point them out to people as they arrive. Provide newsprint with the word “generous” on one piece of paper and “stewardship” on another. Ask people to write their responses to each word on the newsprint. Invite people to take their seats, welcome them, and ask them to briefly introduce themselves by giving their names and what class or small group they lead. If the group is exceptionally large, you may need to break into smaller groups to complete the introductions promptly. Incorporate an intergenerational group by adding diverse age groupings within each discussion group.

Read both Luke 8:16-18 and Acts 4:32-35 from the Common English Bible translation.

Luke 8:16-18:

16 No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand so that those who enter can see the light. 17 Nothing is hidden that won’t be exposed. Nor is anything concealed that won’t be made known and brought to the light. 18 Therefore, listen carefully. Those who have will receive more, but as for those who don’t have, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them (emphasis added).

Common English Bible (CEB) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible.

Acts 4:32-35:

32 The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions but held everything in common. 33 The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds from the sales, 35 and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles. Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need (emphasis added).

Common English Bible (CEB) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible.

Define stewardship as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. Discuss the responses on the newsprint. Ask participants, “How is our understanding of stewardship different because of our relationship with Jesus Christ?”

Describe the three learning activities briefly and suggest that intergenerational participants choose activities to enhance their understanding of generosity and stewardship. Tell the group they have forty minutes to explore the activities of their choice. They can choose one or all the centers. Participants may also take a break and enjoy refreshments as needed. Feel free to adjust the four centers and replace them with others listed in Delia Halverson’s book or ideas unique to your context.

Learning Centers (About 40 minutes)

There are three learning centers: (1) Reflecting on Climate Hero Handbook; (2) Poster of a steward hero; and (3) Prayer poem.

Depending on the number of people in your group, these centers may be done individually or in small groups. People may choose to do all the centers or focus on one. Encourage everyone to take home a copy of the final version of the prayer poem, whether they participate in that center or not. Create intergenerational groupings of participants for each learning center. These centers are designed to be used for an intergenerational audience, one where children and adults learn and grow together.

The goal of intergenerational ministry is to create and deepen relationships among all the generations found in your congregation. Intergenerational ministry opportunities do not discriminate based on age or any other status. All are a welcome part of the congregation’s mission in ministry. Simply put, if you are an age, you are engaged.

Reflecting on the Climate Hero Handbook

Supplies Needed: Climate Hero Handbook

There are multiple ways to approach this discussion group. One would be to have the entire group work through the handbook before this workshop and then discuss learnings from the book. Another would be to provide books to all participants at the workshop and have one person, perhaps an older child who has completed the handbook, talk about what he/she learned. Either approach will allow for a great discussion during this time. Climate Hero Handbook is written to guide children, as well as adults, in caring for the planet. Because of this, encourage a child to lead each group in the book discussion.

After the discussion, use a reflection page to allow participants to respond to several “wondering” questions (Also see https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/inviting-a-child-to-become-a-climate-hero.)

Poster of a Steward Hero

(See page 111 of Let the Children Give.)

Have a life-size poster of a human body or a skeleton on which participants will attach sticky notes; or use a roll of butcher paper to trace someone who is about six feet tall.

On sticky note paper, encourage every participant to write ways to use various parts of the physical body to act as a steward. Be creative! Place the sticky paper notes on the appropriate part of the body on the poster, skeleton, or butcher paper.

Example: Eating an inexpensive meal and sending extra money to others who have food insecurities. (Place the sticky note by the mouth.)

After covering the poster, skeleton, or butcher paper with sticky notes, discuss what participants can do at home and church to live a more generous life.

Use the scripture text from 1 Corinthians 12:12-22, 26-27 to begin your discussion.

1 Corinthians 12:12-22, 26-27, Common English Bible

12 Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many. 13 We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink. 14 Certainly the body isn’t one part but many. 15 If the foot says, “I’m not part of the body because I’m not a hand,” does that mean it’s not part of the body? 16 If the ear says, “I’m not part of the body because I’m not an eye,” does that mean it’s not part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, what would happen to the hearing? And if the whole body were an ear, what would happen to the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God has placed each one of the parts in the body just like he wanted. 19 If all were one and the same body part, what would happen to the body? 20 But as it is, there are many parts but one body. 21 So the eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” or in turn, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 Instead, the parts of the body that people think are the weakest are the most necessary. …

26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. 27 You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.

Common English Bible (CEB) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible.

Stewardship Prayer Poem

As a small group, create a stewardship prayer poem. Use the template found on page 122 of Let the Children Give: Time, Talents, Love, and Money by Delia Halverson. Follow the guidelines to create a cinquain (five-stanza) poem about the word “stewardship.” Use the following form and fill in the words that express that subject.

  • Steward
  • Gifts
  • Offering
  • Responsibility
  • Care


God’s property
Caring Growing Enriching
Happy in God’s service.

Line 1: A title of one word or one subject.

Line 2: Two words about the subject (either a phrase or separate words).

Line 3: Three verbs that denote action. May end in “ing” or may be a phrase of action.

Line 4: Four words telling about the feeling for line one. This may also be a phrase.

Line 5: One word that means same as the first line (or reuse the first word or Amen).

Discuss what you felt as you created and heard the words during this activity. Discuss why certain words were chosen. The conversations around the creation process of this poem can lead to a powerful discussion about stewardship in the community and doing acts of care for the world we live in. Spend time in meaningful discussions about different aspects of stewardship.

Total Group Sharing (About 15 minutes)

Ask the participants to reassemble in the group space. Invite people to share any insights they have about the learning center activities. Then invite participants to view the recorded webinar, What Every United Methodist Child Should Know About Generosity (https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/sept-14-2023-what-every-united-methodist-child-should-know-about-generosity).

After the webinar, ask, “Where will our children (and we are all children of God) learn how to be generous disciples of Jesus Christ? How can our individual lives and lives as a community of faith demonstrate a willingness to grow in generosity?”

Using a smart device such as iPad or phone, surf the internet and find stories about certain situations; then ask, “How would God want us to act in generosity to this situation?” Notice the many ways that people serve as stewardship heroes in the community, nation, and world. Ask participants to discuss the media stories in small groups. Ask, “How are these stories examples of generosity? How might the story help individuals grow in faith? What would a stewardship hero look like in this situation? What are the next steps of generosity that we can take?”

As a group, brainstorm how people can be stewardship heroes at home, in their communities, and the world. Write responses on the newsprint. Let the group know that you will send them a copy of the ideas in the coming week.

Closing (About 5 minutes)

Invite participants to sing “For the Beauty of the Earth” (UMH 92). This hymn will encourage thought and devotion around gifts of creation, time, mind, body, relationships, the church, and Jesus Christ. Close by revisiting and reading the poem prayers created earlier and reflecting on the Climate Hero Handbook.

Read Climate Hero Handbook by Jennifer Manley Rogers and Jessica Gamache. Reflect on the following statements:

  1. Whose job is it to save the world from destruction?
  2. Which of the four sections— land, air, water, and animals—did you identify with the most? (Notice the climate hero’s shield on the book cover. Do you see all four sections represented?)
  3. How might an activity such as nature journaling cause you to slow down and better observe nature? What other activities would help us be better “climate heroes”?
  4. How does this handbook provide a deeper understanding of our place in this world? Give examples.
  5. What does a world with “climate heroes” taking action look like? Give one way from each of the four sections — land, air, water, and animals—that you can be a “climate hero” to the world around you.

Advocacy Organizations for Generosity

Recommended Resources

Children Books:

Family Video:

Youth Books

Adult Books:

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION WEEK is authorized by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, but its observance is set by each annual conference. Check with your annual conference office to determine if your annual conference has set a specific date.

Produced in collaboration with Congregational Vitality and Intentional Discipleship, and Worship teams of Discipleship Ministries.

Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition. Copyright © 2021 National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

© 2024 by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce this leaflet for use in local United Methodist congregations.

Funded through World Service apportionment giving by United Methodist congregations.

Rev. Kevin Johnson is the Director, Children’s Ministries for Congregational Vitality & Intentional Discipleship at Discipleship Ministries. Kevin’s hero Fred Rogers suggests that we, “listen to the children, learn about them, learn from them. Think of the children first.” This quote defines Rev. Kev’s approach to ministry. Kevin, an ordained elder of the Kentucky Annual Conference, has over fifteen years of ministry experience in which he has thought of the children first. Prior to ministry, Kevin worked with children in the hospital setting and in group homes for emotionally and physically abused children.

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