The last couple of weeks, we have talked about many elements in helping your kids build their own quiet time where they learn to connect with God through regular discussions about him and his word, journaling, and prayer. Today we are going to talk about how to serve your church and community with your kids and show them God’s heart in serving people. Serving puts all that head knowledge into heart & hand action. So let’s dive in!
When I was in junior high and high school, I had many opportunities to serve our church with my family during the holiday season. During Christmas, the church would put on a large Christmas production. My parents and brother and I would help build and paint sets, as well as serving dinners for the cast and crew. My dad played the drums in the orchestra, and I performed four of the seven years we attended that church.
Those are some the best memories and experiences from those years, because not only did I experience being a part of something bigger than myself, I got to do it with my family. I can remember having to work a quick math problem to figure out how many gallons of mashed potatoes we needed to whip up for the 100+ member cast and crew. I remember brainstorming about costumes with my mom. I remember getting to perform on stage while my dad played in the orchestra. Great memories and moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything. But they represent far more than memories. I was getting to put my faith in action, and follow Jesus’ example.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
Jesus didn’t come to the earth to do great in the polls, rise to a high-ranking position, or socialize with the socially elite. He came to wash feet, hold squirming babies, and socialize with the social outcasts. He came to show love and change peoples’ hearts. And he did it with the heart of a servant.
Our society does not naturally promote or demonstrate selflessness, but rather selfishness. As the Church and as parents, we need to model Jesus’ example, not imitate society’s example. Kids need to see the importance of following Jesus’ example, because through serving, it reminds them (and all of us) that life isn’t all about them. We discover Jesus’ heart when we put others before ourselves.
But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. Luke 22:26
Serving also helps to uncover and develop your kids’ gifts.
It was through performing in numerous church productions and events that I began to uncover and develop gifts that set the course of my life. God used dance to teach me so much about him, and through dance, I was able to develop a passion for worship, choreography experience, organization skills, and confidence that easily carried over into other parts of my life. Because I stuck with dance, I unearthed a desire to teach dance and invest in the next generation of students. Out of those teaching skills and experiences, I gained confidence and a deeper desire to invest in kids through working in youth ministry. You never know what seeds of ministry are being planted while your kid serves alongside you at church.
Maybe your kids will find they like praying for other people, playing with babies in the nursery, making cards for the sick, or helping to organize the food pantry. For older teens, they may be able to serve on the worship team, nursery or kids’ department. All of these efforts help kids to realize that God has given them unique gifts to be used for his kingdom.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
Serving is also an outflow of salvation. Providing a way for your kids to serve the body is a crucial part of their spiritual walk with the Lord. They learn to put action behind compassion and empathy. They learn to put others first. They learn to overcome fears and trust God in the unknown. They learn that God isn’t just for Sundays, but for all days of the week.
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:14
Kids are doers. These growing up years are crucial times for kids to exercise their faith and put it into action. Let them channel that energy and experience serving their church. Depending on your church structure and size, your child can help in a variety of ways.
For elementary age kids, they can:
- Pass the offering basket during service
- Join a parent in the nursery to play with the little ones
- Help with local mission projects like cleaning or serving
- Write prayer requests down or take attendance during Sunday school
- Stand with a parent or adult to be a greeter
For older kids and teens, they can additionally:
- Serve on the worship team
- Serve on the media/tech team
- Help with VBS and special events
- Serve as a leader in children’s church
Kids want to feel helpful. It’s hard sometimes being a kid in adult world, where you’re not old enough to do a lot of things. Show kids they have an active role to play right now as a child, and they don’t have to wait to grow up to do things for Jesus. When kids know they truly have an impact NOW in this thing called life, that gets them excited to serve on their own. But if no one casts a vision for that, or never highlights Jesus’ servant heart, how will kids know that’s important?
If you set an example of serving the church and community and make it a priority in your family, rather than afterthought, they are much more likely to make that a pattern in their own lives.
Oh how exciting it is to be raising up a generation of servant leaders!