Confession time: the Finn family is not naturally generous. The adults aren't, the kids aren't. We want to have and hoard and not share, just like little children. However, as believers in Christ we are called to think of others as better than ourselves, and to give of ourselves (time, money, energy) to advance Christ's kingdom and give God glory.
We recently implemented two ways that we are striving towards a more generous, mission-centered family life.
First, an Annie and Lottie jar. As a family, we support the annual offerings for the International Mission Board (the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering) and the North American Mission Board (the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering). In previous years, Nathan and I have decided on a set amount and written a check for those offerings. From now on, we are collecting our change from January-Easter for Annie, and from Easter-Christmas for Lottie. We still plan to give out of our budget as well, but our hope is that this little change jar will spur us to giving even more. Perhaps we will try to see how many times we can fill it in a year? Who knows? The Finnlings love finding change and putting it in the jar, though sometimes it can be a difficult thing to hand over. I understand, because I am personally a change-hoarder. I like a wallet full of change (there's nothing like paying for your soda from Sonic with dimes:-) that eventually adds up to a larger amount. The Annie and Lottie jar is at times a tough sacrifice for me, and that's a good thing.
Second, we sponsor a little girl from Bangladesh through Compassion International. Nathan has been to Bangladesh twice and loves the country and the people. We chose a sweet little girl who has been waiting for a year to be sponsored. Her name is Sonjita, and my children adore her already. As soon as we picked her they were drawing her pictures and wanting to write her letters. Our small monthly donation to Compassion allows for Sonjita to attend school, receive proper clothing and food, and helps her family as well. Our gift to her will hopefully be one that lasts for a lifetime.
We have such a long way to go, but these two simple steps have already been a huge blessing in our life!
Nathan wrote a post explaining these things in more detail (and more eloquently:-) here: