Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Serving Others

When adults try to teach kids about serving others, they try really hard to make it fun. They believe the element of fun will encourage them to serve again – hopefully making it a lifelong habit.

Unfortunately, serving others is not always fun. It can be hard, uncomfortable and exhausting. So you may have pointed out people in the Bible who served God in difficult ways. Your kids may believe that life in Bible times is a lot like life today. Which means watering a bunch of camels or making some widows a few pieces of clothing wasn’t that difficult, right?

Find an empty one or three gallon jug and fill it with water. Tell your children the story of Rebekah watering the camels of Abraham’s servant found in Genesis 24. Ask them how long it might have taken Rebekah to water the four or more camels the servant would have had with him.

Your children will honestly have no idea. They may think Rebekah turned on a hose and watered them. Show them a picture of a well. Explain that Rebekah had to pull up a three gallon jug of water by a rope/chain. Let them feel the weight of one to three gallons of water. Explain that Rebekah then had to carry that heavy jug of water and pour it into a trough for the camel.

Camels drink about 25 gallons of water at a time.That meant she had to make multiple trips with the water jug just to feed one camel. Of courage the servant probably had at least four camels, so that’s lots of more trips! Your kids might want to try and make that many trips with a gallon jug of water (a three gallon jar is probably too heavy for them to handle safely). If you have plants that need watering, they can substitute for the camels!

Afterwards discuss what sort of heart Rebekah must have had to work so hard for a stranger. What other people in the Bible can think of that served others in such selfless ways? How can they serve others when it is hard with the same pleasant attitude Rebekah seemed to have possessed. Have fun with it, but make sure they understand God wants us to serve others – even when it is hard.

Can Arts and Crafts Make Christian Parenting Easier?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Christian parenting were easy? If you could just snap your fingers and rest assured that your children would be faithful, productive Christians as adults? Life would be so much better! Unfortunately, living in a fallen world means nothing is easy. There are things you can do, however, that will make your Christian parenting more effective and thereby, a bit easier.

Effective Christian parenting requires spending a lot of quality time with your kids. If you are all just looking at your phones and IPads though, not much of consequence is happening. You don’t want to lecture your kids, so what are some things you can do with them that help teach them some important Christian life skills and work on Christian character traits?

Surprisingly, one of the best choices is rather old school. Arts and crafts provide lots of benefits for you and your children. Crafting has been found to reduce tension, edginess and anxiety by 50%. What family couldn’t use something that made everyone a bit calmer?!

Even better, doing arts and crafts projects can help your kids work on their patience and perseverance. If you and your children are working on a project that takes a lot of effort or multiple sessions to complete, it can also help them develop a strong, biblical work ethic.

One study found that happiness results from feelings of being able to do things independently, becoming competent at something and doing things with others. Family arts and crafts projects can provide those elements. Yes, Christianity focuses on the joy that is found in Christ regardless of our circumstances, but it’s okay to have a little healthy happiness in your home, too.

Want to really up your Christian parenting game? Find arts and crafts projects that can also be used to serve others. Find ways to share your faith and encourage those who receive your finished projects. Your kids will find meaning and purpose as they grow to better understand the mission and ministry God has planned for them.

Don’t have a lot of money for supplies? Check out coupons for craft stores and yard sales. Find someone who already participates in the art or craft in which you are interested and see if they have some extra supplies they would be willing to give your kids. (Word to the wise. Don’t spend a ton of money on supplies for any one art or craft category until you are sure your kids are definitely going to pursue it long term! There are lots of ways to try a new craft without purchasing every possible supply. Kits are often a good way to experiment without a huge investment.)

Have fun with it. Set aside special times where everyone works on projects together or does a family project. Who knows? It really may make your Christian parenting job a bit easier!

Do Your Kids Feel Needed at Church?

Having godly self esteem is a challenge. Adults have shifted back and forth from being super critical of children to making them believe they are practically perfect in every way. Most congregations would say they value the children and teens that attend, but they don’t always act that way. Young people are often siloed away from the adults in special areas for classes and some, if not all, of worship. They rarely see adults, much less develop meaningful familial and mentoring relationships with them.

Perhaps even more harmful, they are made to feel superfluous. The adults take all of the active roles in worship and service. Often children especially are barred from participating in service and other ministry efforts, while teens are given a marginal role at best.

Contrast this to the real world, where schools often encourage students to take leadership roles in every area of school life. Charities often have special roles for children and teens to develop the next generation of volunteers. Young people are encouraged to share ideas and develop their own service and leadership projects.

Children and teens may not be able to express it well, but they are made to feel useless and even unwanted in many churches. They are aware adults put little effort into their classes and they aren’t learning much of importance. No wonder many leave at the first opportunity for something that makes them feel they add value to being there.

Is your church guilty of marginalizing children and teens? Speak up. Volunteer to develop a system for involving them in more meaningful ways. If your church pushes back, encourage your children to develop their own ministry opportunities in their lives. Support them in their efforts to serve others and share their faith. Reassure them God wants them to be involved in their local congregation. Encourage them to keep trying to participate or develop opportunities to serve and share their faith and invite other Christians to join them. Whatever you do, don’t let your kids believe their congregation doesn’t need them to be involved. Because whether church leaders realize it or not, they do need your kids.

Fun Family Devotional and Service Project

There is a passage in Acts that provides not only an interesting devotional topic, but an opportunity for a family service project. In Acts 19, Paul is in Ephesus. Several interesting things happen, but starting in verse eleven (through verse twenty), it really gets intriguing.

Evidently, Ephesus was an area where the people were heavily into magic (not the entertainment kind) and it appears even some of the Jews considered themselves exorcists. When they tried to replicate the miracles Paul had been doing, however, they were unable to do so. Eventually, the people became convicted that what they were doing was wrong and brought out their magic books (scrolls) to be burned.

This story makes a great springboard for discussing with your children the influence books can have on their hearts and minds. What are some books that they believed changed their thinking or attitude about something? Was it a change of which God would approve? Have they ever read a book they believe wasn’t good for them to have read for some reason? Why? What kinds of books might it be smart for them to avoid reading? What types of books should they read more often? This is also a great time to remind them the Bible is a library of 66 books and reading each book is important because they contain things God wants them to know.

Don’t let the conversation veer too far away from self censoring the books they read. This is not the time for a political discussion on censoring others. The discussion could extend, of course, to the content they stream, the music they listen to, etc. Remind them every creator has an agenda. Some are helpful and some not so much. Very little content is as neutral as we want to believe. You may even want to teach them how to evaluate a book for beneficial or harmful content before reading it.

Finally, start collecting good Christian and other books to donate to a ministry that could use them. Urban ministries and faith based tutoring programs rarely have enough books. Ministries that work with children in other countries may have a hard time finding children’s books in their language or bilingual ones in their language and English. Or raise money for children’s Bibles (many languages only have one version – usually in language equivalent to the old KJV and need children’s Bibles to make the Bible more understandable for those who are young) or Christian books for children and teens (remember, not every Christian book contains truth either).

Have fun with it, but make sure your kids have the tools to make wise choices about the books they read.

Fun Service Learning Challenge for Families

It’s abundantly clear throughout the Bible that God expects His people to serve others. Yet many Christians are content with merely writing a check and letting someone else do their serving for them. I’m pretty sure (while every ministry could use more funds) that wasn’t all God had in mind.

Part of the problem is that many of us are oblivious to the world around us. Totally unaware that we have walked past someone crying or who is hurting in some way. When questioned about serving others, we confidently claim we don’t encounter people with needs. If you want your children to be the servants God wants them to be, you have to train them to be noticers and problem solvers.

There is a fun challenge you can do as a family to teach your kids how to better notice needs and meet them. It’s also graduated in difficulty so your kids can progress through increasingly difficult ways to serve others. By the time they have completed the challenge, your kids will be well on their way to not only noticing those who need serving, but also competently meeting those needs.

Start with the level that will stretch your kids service skills a bit. Once they are comfortable at one level, move up to the next. Some families can get through all of the levels in a few weeks, while others may take months or even years. The important thing is to serve regularly and consistently and challenge your kids to grow during every opportunity to serve others.

Here are the challenges at each level.

  1. Neighborhood (if you have very young children, you may even want to start with your family before tackling the neighborhood). Find ways to serve those on your street or in your neighborhood. It’s fine to be creative, but make sure the needs are what the neighbor needs and not what you want them to need! If you are going onto the property of someone to serve them, ask permission – especially if you don’t know them well.
  2. Town/Your part of town. Expand the challenge to beyond your neighborhood. You should try to get your kids to notice needs first, then approach the appropriate organizations to see if they are willing to let you help them. Because your kids aren’t as familiar with the locations or people they may be serving, this requires some growth. It may also require more creativity and problem solving skills.
  3. Another town or a part of your town unfamiliar to you. This requires meeting new people and finding out how things work best in an unfamiliar area that’s still relatively close to home.
  4. Another state or country. This is probably more appropriate if you have teens in your family. It requires more research before embarking on your service journey and navigating different areas, cultures, rules/laws and perhaps even languages. If your kids can research, plan and execute a service experience in another country, they are probably read to do independent complex projects serving others almost anywhere.

Don’t forget that Jesus almost always tied serving someone with teaching them about God. Work with your kids on also increasing their ability to have spiritual conversations with the people they encounter while serving.

You can also use these experiences to teach them about various nonprofit management skills like budgeting, long term planning, sustainability, fund raising and more. There are various place to find resources to help online.

Raising kids with servant hearts requires intentionality and a plan. This challenge can get you started.