Summer is the season of sunshine, snow cones, and—for many churches—service. Teens and adults take off for weeklong adventures: building houses, leading vacation Bible school, meeting new people, and discovering their gifts.
But what about the kids? Kids are social agents too! And they have a mission in God’s world today. Something special happens when people from different generations rub elbows as they serve together. They find common ground where they hadn’t known it existed before! A sixty-year-old and seven-year-old become something more than a grandparent and child, or a Sunday school teacher and student—they become ministry partners! Stories are shared as faith is experienced and modeled, practiced and affirmed.
At the most recent Children’s Spirituality Conference, featured presenter Marcia Bunge ranked “participating in service projects with parents or other caring adults” among the top ten best practices for nurturing the moral and spiritual lives of kids.
Here are a few ideas for encouraging cross generational service at your church this summer:
Expand the Team
If your church has calling elders or pastoral outreach teams, ask if they can include a child on the team to pray and read Scripture with people who are homebound or hospitalized.
Pass on Skills
Does someone in your congregation sew or knit? Create an intergenerational team to sew dolls or stuffed animals, or knits scarves and sweaters for children at local shelters or a Ronald McDonald House.
Choose Kid-Friendly Projects
- Pregnancy resource centers love to see kids serve! They often need volunteers to help sort items that are donated and organize the bottles used for fundraising campaigns.
- Food pantries and thrift store donation centers need year-round support stocking shelves and sorting clothes or canned goods.
- Most cities have adopt-a-road programs that your church can get involved with. Schedule a Saturday morning clean up 4-6 times a year when adults, kids, and teens can meet at the curb to pick up trash, greet neighbors, plant flowers, rake, or pull weeds.
Global giving projects can open the world to children, teens, and adults and help them see how important their contribution is. Check out these projects:
- The Micah Challenge for Kids—gives children a role in a worldwide Christian movement to cut global poverty in half by 2015.
- Loose Change to Loosen Chains—a project from the International Justice Mission that involves children in freeing modern-day slaves all over the world.
- World Renew What You Can Do - programs and projects around the world for all ages.
As kids hear stories of real children their world expands, and so does their awareness of how to live in it. Projects like these help kids and families take practical steps to stand up against injustice and stand in solidarity with those in need. With a little publicity and the passion of your kids, global giving projects can inspire action in the whole church community!
Take advantage of these warm summer months to serve side by side with the kids in your church!