More and more children’s ministry leaders and parents are interested in getting kids involved in service, outreach and missions. But how can we get today’s kids on the move? Here are the ten key ingredients for motivating kids to focus on the needs of others:
#1. BE A ROLE MODEL. Any parent or leader who wants her kids to serve others must first set the example herself. Try going on a short-term trip across town or to another country and then sharing your experience with your class or family. Find ways to be personally involved in service, outreach and missions projects on a regular basis.
#2. ENCOURAGE FAMILIES TO SERVE by providing intergenerational opportunities. According to Independent Sector’s Engaging Youth in Lifelong Service, children who serve become adults who serve, but even more importantly, those who volunteer as children and whose parents volunteer end up becoming the adults who are the most generous in giving of their time.
#3. MAKE SERVICE, OUTREACH AND MISSIONS ONGOING THEMES OF YOUR MINISTRY. Too often missions education is an “add on” program for VBS, and service projects are “fillers” between other events. Children need to understand that these are regular parts of the Christian life.
#4. TEACH THE “MISSIONS APPLICATION” OF EVERY LESSON. Most biblical lessons have something to teach us about serving others. Don’t miss the service, outreach or missions point when teaching your kids each week.
#5. SHARE STORIES ABOUT OTHER KIDS WHO HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE. Look for current stories in the news about kids impacting their own homes, churches, schools or communities, or read about incredible kids like Monica Jasmin Toro who inspired the creation of Kids’ Evangelism Explosion.
#6. OFFER AGE-APPROPRIATE, HANDS-ON PROJECTS. The younger the child, the more concrete the project’s goals should be and the closer to home the beneficiaries. If possible, take your preschoolers to the food bank to help stack the cans! Older children should be encouraged to contribute their own money or find ways of earning their donations.
#7.MAKE SERVICE, OUTREACH AND MISSIONS FUN! Kids like having fun and, if done right, serving others should be an exciting adventure!
#8. GIVE RECOGNITION FOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS, but remember that this generation of children places more value on “group” achievements than personal rewards. Celebrate how much “we” did together for other people.
#9. GET OUT OF THE WAY. Today’s kids naturally respond to needs around them, so don’t hold them back from getting involved!
10. FINALLY, BELIEVE THAT KIDS CAN…AND WILL…MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Kids know when leaders believe in them. Don’t underestimate what yours can do to make a difference at church, at home, at school, in the community or around the world!
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