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Helping Students Embody Thankfulness

15 Nov Student Ministry | Comments Off on Helping Students Embody Thankfulness
Helping Students Embody Thankfulness

With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, youth ministries often begin to become extremely busy with parties, special services and other holiday themed events. Many of our ministries also look at ways where we can have students “give back” to those in need and reach out to help others during the holidays.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful times to help young people look outside of their own desires and support others. While participating in one time service events are beneficial, the holidays can serve as an even better time to kick off an entire year of service. If you don’t already implement continual giving back, consider a new plan of action this year for your youth ministry.

Here are two ideas to help students get involved in helping others:

1. Serve Consistently

The first is to serve on a regular basis. Instead of a one-time event of helping, (i.e. a once a year service project or missions trip) consider implementing monthly or even weekly opportunities to “give back.”

For example if your group goes to a soup kitchen once a year around the holidays, consider having students alternate at that same soup kitchen every week to build relationships with the regular volunteers and individuals whom they will serve. If your group collects food for a local food bank, consider collecting all year round, or collecting food once a month and have student’s help that food bank stock shelves or hand out food on a regular basis. Find out what that food bank specifically needs (it could be paper towels or items that food stamps do not cover) and choose to supply that on a regular basis. These opportunities allow students to bless the staff of the food bank and also build relationships with the individuals they will be helping.

Most non-profits and service organizations receive their most financial and physical donations in November and December. January through October is a crucial time to help service organizations and ministries because their needs are less likely to be met. These are only a few ideas. There are a lot of ways for students to get involved in community needs that will open their heart to others and assist them in using their gifts to “give back.”

2. Serve Locally

The second area to look at within your ministry is to serve a local ministry in the community where your students attend school or live. Mission’s trips and serving other communities are valuable, however on-going ministry to your community instills a pattern in student’s hearts to keep their eyes open to needs in their school and needs even their friends may have. There are kids, families and students in the community that are really struggling.

In the past few years there has been an increase of low income and poverty level families in most communities (I would suggest all communities). In most city schools all kids are on free lunch and in rural communities numbers have increased as well. Where I serve in ministry, in a farming community in Lancaster County, the statistics have increased to 1 in 3 students that are considered low-income and/or poverty level. We have all seen how this affects students in the ministries where we serve and how it can deeply affect families that live in our communities. Families are struggling to get coats for their kids or purchase oil when it begins to get cold. Many families often struggle to have quality meals on the table.  I have often seen groups shy away from their own community in attempts not to embarrass anyone. Partnering with local organizations (youth centers, food-banks, social service networks, ministriums and the School District) are great ways to find out specific needs and how students can learn to walk along side of individuals in their lives.

Walking together through life’s ups and downs is a better way to view service to our community. We are all in need of help. When students grasp this concept their eyes open and hearts begin to change about needs and service. Meeting physical needs opens the pathway to speak truth about Christ and begin journeying together in this life.

One helpful tip!

You can contact your school or local governing body to find out ministries that are available in your area. Your School District is a great way to find out what needs they may have. They often have a list of needs they cannot meet and may be willing to give you a list of needs (i.e. winter coats, financial need and families in crisis). You can then bless not only the school district, but also those who may have a specific need.

These are only 2 ways to revamp service and giving back on a regular basis to one’s community. There are many other ways to implement this principle into your group’s schedule.  Consider looking at ways your group will “give back” this year and support students to serve as a lifestyle instead of a once a year event!

Meredith Dahl
Executive Directory at Cross Connection Ministries
Meredith is the Executive Director of Cross Connection Ministries in New Holland, PA. She has received a Bachelor of Science in Student Ministry and a Master of Arts in Ministry (Concentration in Student Ministry) from Lancaster Bible College. Meredith and her husband live in New Holland with their baby boy Liam and love living, working and volunteering in their community.