How to Teach Your Kids to Tithe

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at

Do your kids tithe? Ours do, but it hasn’t always been that way—for them or for me.

Growing up, I’d always been a pretty tight-fisted person, and tithing was a foreign concept to me for most of my life. Even though I was raised in a Christian home, tithing was not something we talked about. I’d throw five dollars or so in the collection plate here and there, or give a dollar or two to the Salvation Army bell-ringers at Christmastime.

But tithing a whopping 10 percent of my income, as we’re advised to do throughout the Bible, never crossed my mind—until I took a financial course at my church about four years ago. My husband and I took the course together very shortly after our marriage. Ours was a second marriage for both of us, and we’d each made plenty of financial mistakes the first time around. We were determined to do right this time together.

Little did I know what “right” would look like. In the first or second class, God laid it on my heart—and equally on my husband’s heart—that we should immediately start tithing, even though we thought we couldn’t afford to do so.

How to Teach Your Kids To Tithe

We listened to God and have never stopped tithing since. It blessed us in so many ways, and shortly after we started, we looked around at the other people in our household: our four kiddos.

See, we have a “blended family.” My two kids live with us, joined by my two stepkids every other weekend. And we decided they all needed to learn the same financial wisdom we were learning.

That wisdom naturally included tithing.

What is Tithing?

Tithing comes from a word that translates to “a tenth.” Leviticus 27:30 (CEB) says, “All tenth-part gifts from the land, whether of seed from the ground or fruit from the trees, belong to the Lord; they are holy to the Lord.”

Numbers 18:20-21 says, “The Lord said to Aaron: You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have a share among them. I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. I have given all the one-tenth portions in Israel to the Levites as an inheritance. They are a reward for performing their service in the meeting tent.”

But it’s not just in the Old Testament. Jesus and the apostle Paul speak about the importance of tithing.

In Matthew 23:23, Jesus states, “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You give to God a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, but you forget about the more important matters of the Law: justice, peace, and faith. You ought to give a tenth but without forgetting about those more important matters.”

In 1 Corinthians 9:13-14, Paul writes, “Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get to eat food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share part of what is sacrificed on the altar? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who preach the gospel should get their living from the gospel.”

How We Do It

In our home, our kids earn commission instead of just receiving allowance, which is an important distinction. Instead of getting spending money simply because they live in our home, they have to earn their spending money by doing a certain number of chores each week. And along with what they earned, they needed to give a portion back to God.

For us parents, it’s easy to do the math—we get paid a certain amount each paycheck and just calculate 10 percent right off the top and send that to our church or a ministry we are supporting. But with kids, it’s a bit harder to calculate 10 percent, especially if they’re not earning much and especially if we didn’t want to pay them in coins (no thank you!). So we decided 10 percent wasn’t as essential as understanding a good, healthy portion went to God. Their tithe actually equates to 20 percent. Of the five dollars they earn a week in commission, one dollar of the five goes to giving (to God through the church or a ministry). The remaining four dollars are divided between a spending envelope and a savings envelope for whatever special toy or cool thing they want.

Need help budgeting for your own tithe? Grab this Family Budget Template

From Struggle…

In the beginning, a couple of the kids were just as tight-fisted as I was when I was their age: “But it’s my money,” they whined. “I earned it!”

But my husband and I worked hard to remind them that there is nothing “we” have. Everything we believe we possess is simply a blessing from God. We are to use it and be good stewards, but we should make no mistake—it is not “ours.”

…To Understanding

Now they seem to completely get the message. The other day, my daughter decided she really wanted to help a certain ministry, so instead of her normal one-dollar tithe, she decided to go for three dollars. Three dollars doesn’t sound like much, but when you realize that’s a full three-fifths of her weekly income, it’s pretty huge!

As for what we do with their tithe, sometimes we bring their giving envelopes with us to church and have them put it in the collection plate. Other times they’ve expressed interest in a particular Christian cause, so we’ve sent the money to that. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter what we do with it as long as it is going to something that is God-led.

What About You?

Tithing has definitely changed our family life for the better. How about you—do your kids tithe? Why or why not?