Our Christian school sells Christmas trees for our scholarship fund. Last year we had about thirty trees left over. We contacted several community service agencies like those that deal with the poor, children with cancer or chronic illnesses, the elderly, etc. We got the names of families who would have no Christmas at all, then delivered the trees to them. This was a simple way to share the love of Jesus. It only took a couple of hours on the Saturday before Christmas. This year we are adding decorations, food, caroling, etc., and asked for corporate sponsors of trees. This was an incredible blessing to the families who participated.
We have a nice church facility and lots of loving people. So we offer our site for community functions such as Chamber of Commerce luncheons, Senior Citizen Tax Preparation, Driving Classes. We don’t charge the community for the service which makes us a really nice option. Many people who would not normally enter our church use it. When they see youth serving, cleaning, and helping it is a double whammy. This is not what they experience in the world.
Our Teenage Group cleaned out their closets and collected clothing from others (that would have went to Goodwill, etc.) and set up a “Community Closet” in the parsonage of our church. Anyone who needed clothing for their children were welcomed to come in and “shop” for whatever they needed. There was no charge for any of the clothing and the Group assisted the shoppers in filling their needs.
Have a dinner night at your church. We had the Jr. High youth set up and serve a dinner to the community. The parents of the children cooked the food, we picked out the menu, and everyone sold tickets, so we knew how many plates to have ready. Of course we still had extra food in case someone else wanted to come on in. By doing this the youth learned how to work together, and the parents and community had more respect for the youth. The profits went to a charity.
Got this idea from,”Cookie Bake for Shut-ins”. Have the youth bake cookies and decorate the cards and sign them. Then after they are done with all the baking and card-making have them then go out to the elders of the church that aren’t able to make every service due to the age or medical problems and fellowship with them. Let the elders know that we miss them and are praying for them. Have the youth gather around and pray for the elder. Move on to the next home till you have visited everyone. You will be surprised how much the elders enjoy seeing young people visit them.
Want to begin doing service projects with your youth group, and don’t know where to begin, here’s an idea.
Do a Cookie Bake for some of the shut-ins, seniors, etc in your church or community. Have your youth group bake cookies (keep the recipe simple, or buy a mix — Pillsbury and Quaker has some good ones). Make cookies that anyone could eat – stay away from chocolate, nuts, etc because of allergies. Maybe get some parents to help out in the kitchen.
After your cookies are ready, put them in as many cookie tins as people or homes you are going to visit. In advance find someone with a computer and printer who will type up cards for your group to sign, make sure you give the name of your group and where you are from. The ideas for the cards are limitless (you probably have someone in your youth group with a computer and printer who will do this).
Pre plan the people or homes you are going to and make sure that it is ok, and that you visit at a good time, early evening, late afternoon, whatever is appropriate. Maybe ask your church secretary for a list and her input.
Set up drivers (one adult with each group of youth) and have them deliver the cookies, cards and greetings from your youth group.
This is a great project and involves your youth, and seniors. Two different age groups that probably don’t spend a lot of time together, it helps bridge gaps, and teaches your youth they can serve God, by sharing his love to people who can not get out on a regular basis. After you’ve delivered your goodies, return to the church and let the young people talk about the different places they stopped, what happened, etc. It wouldn’t hurt to enjoy some of the goodies they made as well during your discussion time.
Have the youth group assemble somewhere with computer access. Allow them to make “Get Well” cards. Have the members sign the cards and then send them to shut-ins.
Most churches have a number of senior citizens in the congregation who would love to decorate their homes for Christmas with trees, outside lights, etc., but just aren’t able to do it physically. Announce to your church this year that your youth are volunteering to provide a Christmas decoration service to all senior citizens. Place a sign-up sheet in a prominent location and assign a group of youth to each home. Pick one or several days in late November or early December where everyone can gather together and go to the various homes.
This is designed for youth groups where the majority are Christian and are for the most part timid when it comes to evangelizing.
Have the youth get into pairs. One person is person “A” and the other is person “B”. “A” then is instructed to witness to “B”, that is, to explain what it means to be a Christian or why “A” decided to be a Christian. After “A” is finished, “B” will do the same thing to “A”. You can share some of the answers that were given. Then have all the “A”‘s stand to one side and the “B”‘s to the other. Explain that “A” is going to persuade “B” (pretending to be non-Christian) to become a Christian. “B” can respond positively or negatively. “B” might be very open or “B” might be closed, but “B” at least should be open to hearing what “A” has to say. While giving “A” a couple of minutes to think of what they will say, ask “B” to try to think of a couple of questions for “A”, that is, questions about problems they have with Christianity. Ask them to base it on excuses people give for not accepting Christianity. Then let “B” and “A” go for it; “A” persuading and “B” maybe asking questions.
After a few minutes, get some feedback; what worked, what didn’t, did anyone convert, what could work better? Then divide “B”‘s and “A”‘s again, this time having the “B”‘s evangelizing the “A”‘s.
Since the group probably knows each other well, they will probably feel more comfortable doing this with each other. From the results of this exercise, you can decided what the next step is to getting them excited about sharing the Good News with friends, family, and strangers.
A really simple yet effective way of encourage youth to get excited about serving the community is to go to a public place – e.g. the entrance to a shopping centre – and hand out free Coke cans to passers by.
A few 24-cases of coke is all you need – and this isn’t too expensive once you split the price.
In our experience, the youth were quite nervous about it at first, but after they saw the leaders do it, they chimed in! It really makes the whole idea of “serving” a practical one.
P.S. – Make sure you get permission from the shopping centre or wherever you are doing it! And it’s probably best to steer clear of busy intersections and potentially dangerous places.