How to Share the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering With Children

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I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard the name Lottie Moon. I was sitting at the Sunday dinner table talking with my aunt, who worked at Lifeway (then known as the Baptist Sunday School Board). One of the jobs she had at the time was to produce and distribute envelopes for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, a yearly opportunity for churches to come together in a spirit of cooperation to give directly to missionaries around the world. At the time I had never heard of an offering named after a person, but this conversation stayed with me. Years later, as I sat in the pew of New Hope Baptist Church in Greenville, Indiana, the time came for me to participate in the offering for the first time. I watched for weeks as the entire church, including the children, came together to send resources to the mission field. Over time, I learned the story of this incredible woman whose name was on those envelopes. Knowing her passion for the people she longed to reach opened my eyes to the role I could play in getting the gospel to the nations.

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

It is important to know the stories of those who have gone before us, to see the beauty of the Lord working through ordinary people. Moon was a regular girl, just like me, who one day was changed by the gospel. Everything Moon did was about sharing the good news of Christ. We can often put her on a pedestal. But we have the same gift of salvation that she did and can live a life on mission just like she did. For children, participating in the offering she started might be the first step they take on that mission. Moon’s dream for the Christmas offering was to provide a way for the churches back home to directly impact the work of missionaries on the field. She had a great idea, and over a century later it has raised more than $5 billion. She wrote in one of her letters: “The needs of this people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent.” The power of her words moved the people in the pews, and they can still make a difference today.

Discipling little hearts for missions

Teaching children about history takes as much deliberateness as teaching them the value of a dollar and the difference it can make when it is given for the kingdom. In a day of YouTube stars and Instagram influencers, the story of a young woman in the 19th century can easily be forgotten. And in a day that is increasingly marked by an absence of physical cash and change, there are fewer opportunities for children to have the tangible experience of giving. Envelopes allowed children to touch and see generosity in a way that can’t be easily found in a QR code. But with care, we can use this offering to teach children about the past, present, and future. And in doing so we show them how to make a difference.

The past

Teaching children about the past points them to those who have gone on before us. Learning the stories of missionaries like Moon shows them what it means to follow God’s call. Moon gave of herself to share the good news of Jesus around the world. She used the power of words to share the mission with the people back home. She used the power of an idea to make an investment that would last for generations upon generations.

The present

Teaching children about the present shines a light on the people who are serving today, just like Moon. It also tells them about the reality of the vast mission field that exists around the world. With today’s technology, we can see in an instant the work we support. What used to take weeks to learn by letter can now be seen in real time over Zoom. Short-term trips or visits from missionaries on furlough allow families to make personal connections. When it’s time to talk about the Christmas offering, the tangible view comes from being able to know about who they are supporting and who they are reaching.

The future

Teaching children about the future shows them the kingdom that is to come. We don’t give our resources for the comforts of this world. Rather, we give to support the work that spreads the good news that Jesus has overcome the world. We see the vision in Revelation 21, the new heaven and new earth at the finish line of the Great Commission. When we talk about unreached people groups and those who have gone to share the gospel, we are thinking of those we long to see in eternity. Even in a world without the technological capabilities we have today, Moon harnessed the power of words to inspire. And we can do the same. We can tell her story. And we can tell the grand story that she is a part of along with us. The envelopes my aunt told me about at the dinner table started with one woman’s idea and her ability to inspire others to come together. In a world that is increasingly divided, a spirit of cooperation like that is worth passing on.

This story was written by Amy Whitfield and originally published by Lifeway Research.