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 (NIV)
The Fuller Youth Institute has performed extensive research on what makes faith “stick” for children as they grow into young adults. Their findings include the importance of service and the role it plays in child and adolescent faith formation. It’s never too early or too late to add the spiritual practice of service to your family rhythm.
Before the busyness of the holidays set in, early fall offers a wonderful time for your family to serve others. Here are a few ideas.
Do Yard Work
Whether it is raking up leaves, picking up limbs, or cleaning out flower beds, fall requires additional lawn work that can be difficult for elderly neighbors and single parents. What a blessing it is to do the tasks for those who are unable to do them. Even young children can assist in yard work.
Bake Up Some Pumpkin Love
Bake some pumpkin goodies for your neighbors, teachers, firefighters, or church workers. For additional child ownership, purchase a small pie pumpkin to clean out and make the puree. A child can color or write a note to attach to the food item as well.
Do a Little Fall Cleaning
Gather extra toys, outgrown clothing, and household items that you are no longer using. Share with organizations and shelters that provide items for those in need.
Send a Care Package
Put together a care package of treats and small toys for a missionary or military family, children who are sick in the hospital, or a child sponsored through Samaritan’s Purse. Allow everyone in your family an opportunity to choose appropriate items.
Gather construction paper and crayons to make cards for those who need some encouragement and for nursing home residents.
Plan a Playdate
Invite children over to play to provide couples with a date night, offer a single parent a break, or provide parents of a child with special needs a respite.
Deliver flowers to a nursing home or hospital.
Paint rocks with messages of kindness, gratitude, and biblical truth. Leave these rocks at your local park, library, or trail system for people to find and be encouraged.
Care for the Birds
Cover pinecones with peanut butter and birdseed. Then hang the homemade bird feeders in your trees for the birds this winter.
Spread Some Video Love
Take time to Skype or Facetime those who need encouragement. This could be a missionary, someone in the hospital, or a long-distance family member.
Sponsor a Child
While it is a financial commitment, sponsoring a child through Compassion is a way to open your child’s eyes to how children live in other parts of the word. Create cards, send letters, and share pictures with your sponsored child.
It’s never too early to develop a servant’s heart in your children, open their eyes to the needs of those around them, and grow a heart of gratitude. Get out your calendar and plan to make some of these activities happen this fall, as you love and encourage those around you.