Let's talk about service!
We have found there are three primary reasons many youth stay involved in a church; Relationships (young people go where their relationships are), Hands On Service to Others, and having Responsibilities. Hands-on Service Projects can incorporate all three.
Gary & Laurie have had great success with the sites listed on the left. Most of our service ministries are "all church" ministries. Long ago we stopped using terms like, "the youth group is doing..." or "the youth of the church are..." Most everything has become intergenerational.
Samaritan's Purse. We love Samaritans Purse, but we especially love Operation Christmas Child. It has become an all church event. A High Schooler leads the project, all ages bring in boxes, little kids help sort through items, Middle Schoolers check and wrap boxes, and High Schoolers deliver them to the drop off center. Boxes are placed on the altar and prayed over. It is truly an all church experience. Note, we encourage earth friendly items be placed in the boxes.
The Souper Bowl is another intergenerational winner. For decades on SuperBowl Sunday we have collected dollars for local food pantries. Want to make it more super? Have the youth contact the food pantry for a shopping list. Put kids in groups. Give them a clipboard, calculator and shopping list and set them loose in the grocery store. Drop off the food on the way home and take a brief tour of the food pantry. Have the kids sign the looooong grocery receipt and hang it in a prominent place. Everybody wins and youth will flock to sign up again.
Water Missions International is a nonprofit Christian engineering organization providing sustainable safe water and sanitation solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas.
Imagine walking miles and miles each day just to get a drink of water. This is a reality for millions of people each day. Involve your church in a water Walk
A “Walk for Water” mimics the walk that those millions of people take each day to collect water.
The Salvation Army is known for their bell ringing outside of shopping areas at Christmas time. However, they will pick up used items from congregations. For years we have found that a clothing drive is a great service project. We advertise in May a "clean out your closet" month. Members bring donated clothing items to the church. All ages sort through the clothes and schedule a pick up. Everybody wins! FYI, there are many other organizations that will do the same such as Good Will and clothingdonations.org.
And we promote the following as we have former youth group members involved with these ministries.
Wycliffe Bible Translators USA is an interdenominational nonprofit organization with a stated goal to "see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025.
They also offer opportunities for service, internships, resources, and programs to partner with specific missionaries.
A family from our congregation currently serves with Wycliffe in Tanzania.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is a Christian organization that provides aviation, communications, and learning technology services to more than 1,000 Christian and humanitarian agencies, as well as thousands of isolated missionaries and indigenous villagers in the world's most remote areas.
A family from our congregation has been with MAF for 30+ years.
Laurie and Gary have been sponsoring children through Compassion International since the 1980's. Our current sponsored daughter is Laura Evelyn from El Salvador.
We give youth in our church the opportunity to donate some of their own money to help support her. They also get a chance to write to her and we read Laura Evelyn's return letters.
Over the years several families have since started sponsoring children on their own. We ask youth to bring in pictures of their family sponsored child to introduce him or her to the class. It has been a good ministry opportunity.