Instilling a heart for mission and service is critical to any effective children's and youth ministry. Certainly, this is the time of year when many churches are cranking up plans for mission trips (youth/family/intergenerational) and considering ways to include service in Vacation Bible School. Anyone wrestling with what to say about the disaster in Nepal as you have a fun week in "Everest"?
As we plan ways to engage our young people in helping others, it's always a good idea to think about who we are helping. Where do they live? What is their culture? What kind of service or support is of benefit to them?
I've just read "Unsolicited Advice about Shoeboxes" from Katie and Corey Garrett who work with the Wolof people in a rural area of Senegal. Their community children are regular recipients of Samaritan's Purse's shoeboxes (Operation Christmas Child). Whether you participate in this mission outreach or not, there is much to be learned about packing the boxes--what gifts are best understood, needed, and used. We all want the recipients of our gifts to understand, need, and use them, don't we?
Send soap (but be sure to include a plastic soap dish too because when you bathe standing on a big rock in the dirt you really need the soap holder). Same for toothbrushes--include a case because there's no sink/counter/tiled bathroom to rest the brush. Small flashlights with batteries are appreciated because most families don't have electricity. For boys, all they want is a soccer ball. For youngest of girls, a baby doll with light brown skin and no hair is good for a child of any color. There's more and I encourage you to read the whole article!
We at GenOn Ministries suggest that churches incorporate mission and service into their LOGOS evenings--and other intergenerational events. There are lots of ideas on our Pinterest page (Mission and Service Board) and our LOGOS User Guide has a stand alone section called "Intergenerational Mission."
What are you planning for the summer to engage people of all ages in service to others?