This post was written by Marta Cortez, a member of the INCM Blog team.
Child development experts tell us that a child’s worldview is formed early in their development.
In order to help kids understand that God loves the world, it is vital to provide various ways for them to experience missions as early in life as possible.
We may think kids are too young to understand doing missions, but they will surprise you if you give them opportunities.
The Great Commandment in Matthew 22:37-39 gives us a biblical foundation for going outside the doors of our churches to love people in Jesus’ name and teach kids and families to do the same.
So, how do we help create a passion in kids’ hearts for missions?
Teach about missions often.
Make missions a part of the rhythm of your ministry calendar.
- Evaluate your current programs, curriculum activities, and family events. Do they include a missions emphasis?
- Do you have designated times of the year when you invite missionaries or mission leaders to engage with your children’s small groups? Many churches do this for adults but forget to include children in the experience.
- Place a map in your kids’ ministry space that shows the areas of the world where your church sponsors missionaries. Then, invite families to stop and pray for those missionaries often. This reminds kids and families that God’s Kingdom and work goes beyond their city or town.
- Involve kids in praying for other children in other countries. I have a beautiful cloth that has continents and countries imprinted on it. I bring that cloth out during prayer time and ask the kids to lay their hands on one of the countries and we pray for other children in those regions to be able to hear the Gospel and come to know Jesus.
Encourage and equip parents to model missions and service.
We’ve heard it said that more learning is caught than taught. Kids need to see their parents or other adults engaged in the work of missions. When parents demonstrate passion for reaching the world and serving others, it impacts their kids to have that passion too.
- Create a family mission or service opportunity every 5th Sunday and promote it to the congregational families. Invite families to do outreach and mission work that Sunday.
- Families can be involved in dropping off a small gift to the people who recently visited the church.
- Kids can help mom or dad rake leaves or mow the lawn for an elderly neighbor.
- Families can pack hygiene care bags to give to the homeless.
- Connect families to your denominational mission board projects.
- Write and send birthday cards to missionaries or to shut-ins.
- Families can start a “Giving Jar” ministry by collecting all their loose change for an entire year. Then pray for God to show them who He would ask them to bless through those resources. I know a family that practices this faithfully each year and have blessed many single moms or persons going through an illness with their generosity.
Missions/service is not limited to a one-time event. The opportunities are endless but some parents may need your help to provide ideas and ways they can include missions in the rhythm of their lives.
Create intergenerational service opportunities.
There is tremendous power in seeing the generations serving together.
- Invite all ages in your church on a trip to your local elder care or senior’s center to offer a recital or talent show.
- Plan an intergenerational short-term mission trip that involves families, singles, grandparents, etc.
- Involve children in greeting and welcoming new guests alongside a senior adult. Think of other ways you can unite the generations in service in your local church and neighborhood.
- Make Valentine’s Day cards for the widows of the church. We have a group of 3rd graders who do this every year and personally present them to the Widow’s Sunday School Class the Sunday prior to Valentine’s Day. They bring songs and Scripture reading and let those widows know they are loved.
Help kids develop a global perspective.
Help kids see beyond their immediate neighborhood and see that God loves the world (John 3:16).
- Consider having your kids ministry sponsor a child monthly through Compassion International, World Vision, or Back2Back Ministries.
- Include international missions efforts during VBS. Our kids raised enough funds one year during VBS to replace all the broken playground equipment in a school in Thailand.
- Encourage families to select a region of the world each week to pray for during their dinner time. Pray for Gospel impact in that area.
- Teach kids John 3:16 in another language.
- Share missionary stories through videos and curriculum. There are many resources available. Here are two you can check out.
Let’s mobilize kids to serve in missions opportunities and not minimize what a child can do in this work. We trust that the Holy Spirit will use that mission to open the door to a future of compassionate ministry in that child’s life.
Marta Cortez is an innovative leader with a passion for family ministry. She is dedicated to equipping leaders and seeing kids come to know Christ. She has served in many roles across her ministry career. Serving in churches of various sizes, including a megachurch, has developed her management skills and ability to tailor programs and leadership models to accommodate ministry needs. Marta has been married for 37 years and has two beautiful daughters. In her spare time, Marta loves baking, good coffee, and trips to the beach.