From coffee to chocolates, soda to social media, millions of Christians give something up in observance of Lent each year. They do so in order to prepare their hearts for a time of reflection, remembering and celebrating.
But there's another Lenten tradition that many Christians also practice. For decades it's been referred to as "almsgiving," the practice of giving to those in need. Today, many call it "living Lent out loud": putting faith into action by sharing time, talents and treasures to help others.
Giving up – and giving back – during Lent
Many Christians choose to give something up and give something back during the Lenten season. A recent survey1 shows that of Americans who observe Lent:
- 57% fast from a favorite food or beverage.
- 38% give to others.
Ideas for living Lent generously
If you'd like to make generosity part of your personal journey through Lent, here are some ideas for inspiration:
- 40 ways in 40 days: Commit to giving back to others in a new way each day of Lent.
- Bag it/save it/share it:
- Instead of eating out, take your lunch to work or school during Lent. Give the money you save to a homeless shelter, or send it anonymously to someone who is struggling to make ends meet.
- If you decided to limit your purchased snack intake during Lent, stash the money you would have spent on snacks and give it to a food pantry or school program.
- Pray it forward: Each day of Lent, add another person to your prayer list.
- Offer it up: If you've held onto a grudge, forgiveness is a special Lenten gift only you can give.
- Cause and effect: Make a positive impact on a cause you care about:
- Share your time and talents. Eligible Thrivent members can apply to lead a Thrivent Action Team to make an immediate impact in their communities.
- Make a personal donation. Follow your values to choose a cause that you'd like to support with a financial donation.
- Give thanks: Send thank-you cards to friends, neighbors, teachers, physicians, colleagues, church leaders or others who have touched your life.
- Caller ID: Call someone each day during Lent just to tell the person how much his or her friendship means to you.
- Lighten a load: See if family members, friends, neighbors or coworkers could use an extra hand (e.g., do the dishes even if it's not your turn; run an errand for a family member or coworker; help a neighbor or friend with a house project).
Reflection and preparation are intrinsic parts of living Lent out loud. They are also qualities that help people live generously throughout the year. See other ways Thrivent can help you put your faith into action.