Serving with the heart of Jesus shows us what students are learning and holding close. God, the Father, chose to send His Son to earth as the way of salvation for all humanity. It was in this humanity that Jesus demonstrated service to God. Despite Jesus’ physical limitations when He walked the earth as you and me, He modeled service so we could see the value of serving. The foundational pillars of ministry with children which intentionally nurtures a call into ministry include GROW, TELL, SERVE, WORSHIP, and BELONG. This blog post is about the third pillar: SERVE.
Children are constantly exposed to a culture that says, “Serve me” rather than “Serve others.” If children capture the concept of service to others while they are still young, they will most likely be lifelong servants in the Kingdom of God.
Serving in ministry gives us a chance to gauge the spiritual development of our children. A tremendous amount of nurturing each child’s call into ministry can be derived from early service opportunities as they uncover and discover the use of their spiritual and natural gifts. The message that we hope to share in our church community is …”Let the kids serve!”
Let kids fill out a ‘job application,’ then interview them, and train them. These are life skills. We invite students to serve in the Nursery on Christmas Eve and other big Sundays. Our fifth graders help co-lead small groups and serve in our large group Sunday school.
We have a Winter Ball event inviting other local churches to join us for ball food and ball games in our gym in January. This year students who had aged out and into youth set up the game stations from printed instructions and the written plan for the evening. These same students are also instrumental for Vacation Bible School decorating the training space and the event spaces, as well as serving as Fantastic Friday servants. These kids are in training for their leadership wherever God calls them to serve. Where else will they learn to do great ministry by attending to the details…like emptying the trash, cleaning up after others and self, and turning out the lights?
If they play an instrument, invite them to play with the praise band. If they sing in school chorus, invite them to sing with the choir. If they like to play with kids, invite them to be the VBS Preschool helper. If they are handy with wood, invite them to build a huge wooden cross for the altar (thanks, Tyler!). If they like to build with Legos, let them build another altar cross (thanks, Olivia!). If they like to talk (thanks, Anna & Olivia!), invite them to serve as greeters (thanks, Noah!) and open the doors for folks. If they like to do drama, invite them to be on your drama team (thanks, Benton!) or wear a sandwich board advertising your next big event. If they like smaller groups, invite them to tutor (thanks, Eddie!) If they like science, invite them to do the experiments during Summer Sunday school (thanks, James!). If they like to paint, invite them to serve on Trustee Work Day. If they like to cook, invite them to serve on the next Missions Lunch serving line. If they like to play football, invite them to run your games during special Sundays.
Last Sunday was Palm Sunday and in the worship service, kids were palm-handlers, handed out bulletins, youth students set out over 1,000 eggs for the egg hunt, took photos of folks with Tom the donkey, held up a “Celebrate” sign for the theme of worship, read the scriptures before the sermon with their dads, shared a Prayer To The Extraordinary, signed and sang and played the guitar for the offertory. The Friday and Saturday before, our youth set out, sold, and cleared an indoor yard sale in our gym to raise funds for their summer mission trips. It was a full weekend of service and it was awesome!
Figure out what ticks each one off and what thrills each soul. Then do your best to provide a stage, an arena, an opportunity for each one to shine their gifts for the Lord. Don’t forget to keep reminding them that their gifts and calling came from Him and are for His glory. We don’t perform for the Lord, we serve Him and His people. It’s all in the opportunity and the vocabulary!
“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