In the third in a series of articles from Through-Lines: Defining What a Christian Is – Christians as servant workers actively heal brokenness and bring joy to individuals.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:16 (NIV)
We are called as servant workers to give a “cup of cold water” (Matthew 10:42) in service to our neighbor and to our God. Taking kids into the community lets them do valuable service for others. And this kind of learning shows the community that young people can make a difference. When children do work outside of their homes, their churches, and their schools, they can bless their communities in so many ways. As ministry leaders, we lead by doing and by sharing the importance of service.
Children can learn a lot from doing service. Being involved in an activity lets kids learn from the work instead of merely learning about the work. As educator W.E.B. DuBois said, “Only responsibility teaches responsibility.”
When we provide projects that tap into a young person’s passion, big things happen. As one tween exclaimed after returning from a week long service project helping physically handicapped adults, “I finally found the reason I was born!”
Afterward, record reflections with your pre-teens so that they can discuss the experience and share with others in your church community. I have collected some comments from pre-teens after they’ve participated in genuine service:
- “It is fun meeting new people and working in different places.”
- “It is hard when you see something sad happening in the community.”
- “It is hard being done especially if you really enjoyed yourself.”
- “I really liked getting the opportunity to go and serve in the community.”
- “It was fun getting a chance to bless others.”
- “We got to experience new things.” “We got to learn new skills.”
- “It was fun when you were helping because you get to see someone smile.”
Here are some activities for families to inspire servant-workers:
- Help your children offer popsicles or cold drinks to the postal carrier or the neighborhood garbage truck workers.
- As a family or with a group of kids, develop a show to present at a nearby library, day care, or community center. It might be a puppet show, play, or craft project. Get your dance class, choir, or martial arts school to give a demonstration at a daycare, nursing home, or community center.
- Walk dogs, collect mail, shovel snow, or rake leaves for someone in your neighborhood who needs the help.
- Greet your neighbors with a small gift such as a houseplant or plate of cookies.