When you think of serving others while sharing your faith as a family, you are probably focused on deciding on the type of project you will do or deciding which people most need your help. What would happen if you considered the ways your own kids could grow spiritually while working on the project, too?
If you keep in mind the ways you want your kids to grow while working on the project together, you will be more intentional about the conversations you have with them. You may change responsibilities or make other choices that will give your kids more practice in the areas of focus. You will spend time together reflecting after the project and helping your kids think of other things they can do to keep growing spiritually in those areas.
Here’s a fun service project that will give you a great example. Let’s say you want your kids to have more patience and perseverance and to be more responsible. You are also concerned about some sad or lonely neighbors who might love some pretty flowers, or providing fresh vegetables for people you know who are food insecure. What is a project you can do to help your kids and the people who need to be served and encouraged?
Why not grow some pretty flowers or vegetables? Have your kids help plan what to plant. Remember, certain plants take longer to germinate and produce the desired outcome for your service project. The longer it takes, the more patience and perseverance your kids will need to complete the project. It should be balanced though, with how quickly the people you want to serve need help. You may choose to do something more quickly and then do the growing project for a long term, sustainable solution.
Explain to your kids not only whom you have decided to help and the type of help they need, but what you want them to learn or practice during the project. Ask them to think of ways they can participate in the project that will help them learn or practice those skills. If they decide taking ownership of a portion of the project will help them grow, ask them how they will hold themselves accountable to follow through. Remind them, if they fail to do their part, the people who need the help may not get it. They may even want to decide what consequences they will receive if they don’t do what they promised.
Once everything is decided, it is crucial that you allow them to take on their responsibilities. Don’t do their part for them. Stick to the agreed upon accountability measures and consequences. Otherwise, your kids will learn they can remain immature spiritually and someone else will take care of things for them.
Have fun with the project. Encourage your kids. Point out when you see them grow. When the project is completed, take some time to reflect on everything that happened and the lessons they learned in the process. Discuss ways they can continue to grow and other ways your family can continue to serve these people or others who need help. It takes extra time and effort, but you will see more lasting spiritual growth in your kids when you do service projects while more intentionally focusing on your kids’ spiritual growth, too.