One of my favorite things about doing service and mission projects at church is to see how many people I can get involved and excited about what we are doing. Many people will jump right in and busy themselves going about God’s work. Others may be a little more reticent (like Gideon or Moses) at first.
I have learned something from old Tom Sawyer and his fence painting escapade though. If you make serving God and teaching others about Him fun, others will jump in and start participating before they even realize it. Often these are the same people who might tell you they are not gifted for that work, or maybe they will say that particular work is just not “their thing”. Children may tell you they are too grown-up for such baby stuff. Try a little Tom Sawyer on them though and they will surprise themselves.
This week we did one of my favorite things to do with the children at church – take them on a field trip. It always amazes me how few churches take young children places to serve others and do mission work as a church family. Children are so impressionable and remember things we have no idea they are absorbing from their experiences.
During class, our children continued learning how they could serve others and teach them about Jesus at the same time. Because our class time on Sundays is so short, we actually started the project Wednesday night. The children took white lunch bags, drew pictures on them and wrote “God Loves You” (or some version of that) on every bag.
I am a firm believer in starting good habits as early as possible. This should especially apply to starting the habits of living a godly life. One of the easiest, most enjoyable godly habits to start with your child is teaching them to serve others.
Our daughter was just over a year old when she actively participated in her first service project. Our church had collected cans of food to take to another congregation in town who served the poor in our city from their building. Our daughter would take cans of food off the shelves and put them in the bags or boxes we were taking downtown. At other times she would reverse the project and take cans people had donated and place them on the lower shelves. She was also able to hand them to me to place on higher shelves.
Last summer I had the children at our church make testimony quilts to give to the children who use the homeless shelters in our town. Homeless shelters often require the people who stay there to vacate the premises during the day. Sometimes families with children may stay at a shelter, but then feel uncomfortable and return to living in cars or other less than warm places.
The goal was to create not only something easily portable a child could use to keep warm, but to have it remind the child that God loves them even during rough times. We have done this several times over the years. The children who make the quilts have a blast. It allows us to use the talents of the women in our congregation who sew and the agencies who receive the finished products are always thrilled.
Parents often have a difficult time finding service opportunities for their family. Many organizations do not allow children and even teens to volunteer because of liability issues. Even churches sometimes make it difficult for a family to do a service project together.
The good news is that it is very easy to plan your own service project. If you follow the steps below, your project should be successful. Someone in need will be served, your family will learn the value of serving others and God will be glorified. As an added bonus, your children will learn a lot of practical life skills that will help them in other areas.