Serving is the most powerful tool we can use to help our few see the bigger picture of the Church. Kids favorite thing to talk about is themselves. You will hear them tell stories about how good they are at sports or they will want you to see how high they can jump or how fast they can run! It is our job as an SGL to engage their interest. So get down on their level and express an interest in what they are excited about! Our job is also to help their focus to shift from themselves to others, which is done by allowing them to serve others in the classrooms, in the church and in the community. There are many different ways to do this:
Give them a role
Even if you have to make it up, give them something to do to serve their peers. We are a church plant so we have to set up and tear down every week. Our SGLs love to give the kids a special job such as: turning off the lights, leading the motions in worship, passing out the papers or craft supplies, even rolling up the carpets and cleaning up at the end of each service. They feel so special when you give them something to do. This teaches them that even something small can make a difference in the big picture.
Call them out when you see them serve others
They love when you engage their interest so encourage them when their interests move from themselves to others. Call out the positives acts of service in the kids. Sometimes it is hard to notice when we are trying to control our group and make sure that they accomplish everything we want them to on Sundays. But take the time to notice and pray for God to open your eyes. You all have that one kid who pushes your limits every week and is always distracting the rest of the group. Well, watch them and notice when they do the right thing or serve their friends. Call them out and encourage the positives!
Connect them to serving the Church as a whole
Find ways to help them serve outside the classroom and small group time. Schedule times that they can serve as family and be excited to help tell people about Jesus. We have two parades that we are in every year: the Fourth of July parade and the holiday parade. This is a great time for families to step up and serve together. This past summers parade we had so many families serving together. We gave away popsicles and invitations to come to our church. We had parents walking in the parade with their young kids. It brought such joy to my heart to see these kids go out of their comfort zone and pass out invitations to people in the parade. They absolutely loved it! We also had two older elementary boys dancing to the music the whole time and engaging the crowd! They loved being part of something bigger!
John Roberto of Lifelong Faith states, “Both children and adults are more likely to have a growing, strong faith when their family serves others together. When parent and child/teen together perform service activities, the child/teen sees the parent’s capability, faith, and values in action. The cross-generational bond takes place not only in the service event, but also in the retelling of the event through the years.”
The truth is these young kids have such a deep desire to be part of something bigger. We are all made in the image of God and have a desire that is intentionally in us to love God and love others! So encourage your few to serve others and be part of the Church! How can you provide opportunities for your younger kids to serve and what can you do to make sure families can serve together?
By Claire Ellis