Serving: something we know we should be doing as a group, but sometimes it just feels a little…daunting. Where do we serve? How do I coordinate it? What if my students eat all the hot dogs we’re supposed to hand out and ruin the whole thing?
It’s important to remember: It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to happen. When we serve, we take the focus away from our own agenda and give our time, thought, and energy to better someone else’s life. It’s radical, sacrificial, and reflects the very essence of Jesus. Here are five simple, effective ways to get started with serving as a student ministry (Spoiler: They’re all great, but our favorite is at the end).
Volunteer At Community Events
Look at the calendar and see what events are coming up in your community. Hand out candy canes at the Christmas parade, set up a water station at the local 5k race, or sign up for the spring clean up at the park. Not only does it help others, but it gets your group involved in ownership of bettering their community.
Partner With A Local Senior Home
Besides their grandparents, it is likely your students aren’t interacting with this forgotten generation. Connect with a senior home in your area and see if they would be interested in having your students come in to host an event or spend time reading and playing games with their members. This serving project could turn into a powerful, ongoing ministry and grow the most unlikely relationships.
Partner With A Local School
During the school year, you can partner with organizations that provide resources for students in need. Consider packing meal kits, hosting an after-school program, or holding tutoring sessions (if it’s an elementary school). During the summer, you can help with maintenance, painting, or other service projects. Schools are often understaffed and underfunded. Also, this can give students a new perspective on valuing their schools.
Christmas Gift Drive
Around Christmastime, arrange a gift drive for local families in need. Involve students in the promotion, the purchasing, and the wrapping of the gifts. They may even be involved in the delivery! In a season where it’s easy to get caught up in their own wants and desires, this can help students look outward to those around them in need.
Do What No One Else Wants To Do
This is our favorite one! Seek out the jobs that are important, but are often ignored or missed because no one wants to do them (just make sure they’re safe, please). Offer to do the weeding and landscaping for the Pregnancy Resource Center in the middle of July, or haul eight million boxes of old books up the basement stairs at the library. It might even become a fun challenge for your group to find the next “gross job” to do together.
If you do one of these projects or have other great ideas, let us know!
(P.S. We talk more about the value of serving throughout the year outside of your weekly meetings in this post.)