This resource is part of a series of interactive, intergenerational ideas for engaging people in faith practices through worship and/or midweek gatherings, brought to you by Worship Ministries and Faith Formation Ministries as part of the Faith Practices Project.
Service is a response to God’s love for us in Jesus Christ that teaches us to live like Jesus through specific, tangible actions that contribute to the dignity and well-being of the people we serve.
Below you’ll find a variety of intergenerational ideas on this faith practice. Choose from and then use the ideas to shape a summer series, plan a midweek gathering, weave into an all-ages small group study or house church gathering, and more.
There are so many ideas here that you probably won’t need them all. To help make choosing easier, we’ve organized them into three categories:
- Gather activities provide an introduction to the practice through reflection and connection.
- Grow experiences offer an opportunity to explore the practice in community in a way that can be repeated at home.
- Go resources encourage and equip participants to live out the practice.
For a list of other scripture passages and songs you might also include during your gathering, see the Build-Your-Own Worship Service (or Series) on Service.
Learn by example. Read Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). If possible, also read the story from a good children’s storybook Bible such as the Children of God Storybook Bible or Growing in God’s Love. How did the Samaritan love his neighbor as himself? (See also Matthew 22:37-39.) Tell each other about a time when you were surprised by someone’s kindness.
Read the picture book Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. Connect the story to your lives and start a conversation about service with prompts like the following: Notice where CJ and his Nana were at the beginning of the story and at the end. Where did they find beauty? Tell about a time you were surprised by beauty.
Describe CJ’s mood at the beginning of the story. Why did he feel that way? What gets in the way of your wanting to serve others? How might being open to interruptions provide you with opportunities to serve?
Take a field trip. Visit a community based organization to learn more about the needs of your city or region. Ask how you might be of service. Reflect together on what you have learned. In what ways did you see people loving their neighbors through service? What surprised you? Where did you see God at work? How might God be inviting you to practice service in your community?
Plant footsteps of love. Read John 1:14 from The Message. Note that in sending Jesus, God “moved into the neighborhood.” Wonder how God continues to live in the neighborhoods of your city or region. Provide participants with a simple walking map of your community, using small hearts to map out each route. Look for God’s love with your eyes and ears; imagine planting God’s love as you walk the area. Ask,
- I wonder what God loves about this place.
- I wonder about the ways in which God is already at work here.
- I wonder how God might be inviting me to serve.
When you return, share what you have noticed.
Follow the leader. Review some of the Bible stories that show Jesus’ love in action. A fun way to do this: In small groups, use the symbols and titles on God’s Big Story cards #93, #94, #107, #123, and #130 to review each story together; in large groups use print copies of the symbols (on pages 17-19, 23-24 and 27) from this downloadable version of the Dwell curriculum’s Wonder, Year 1 Story Symbol set to guess and then review the stories. What do you notice through these stories about when, where, how, and who Jesus served? What might we learn about what it means to serve from Jesus’ example? What’s one thing you could do this week to follow Jesus’ servant example in your daily life?
Send people home with faith practice resources they can use to continue the practices they’ve experienced during your time together. Some ideas:
- A Bingo card like this one, which features daily, doable ideas for service. You might leave some spaces blank for people to add their own ideas.
- 5 Ways to Practice Service as a Family—a free, printable resource for households with children
- Faith Practices: Holy Habits That Help Us Love God and Our Neighbor, Listen to the Spirit, and Become More Like Jesus—one booklet per person or household