Studies clearly show that “serving together as a family” is vitally important in the faith journey of a child. As a KidMin leader, I am highly invested in how parents are spiritually leading their children. I interviewed several families who consistently served with their kids. I asked them, “Why do you serve with your family?”
Here is the answer I got from one mom of four girls between 6th and 12th grade, who I consistently see serving together.
“I wish we could say it was “intentional parenting” but we mostly just “fell into” the family serving together thing. It started with the obligatory “we should probably serve in Children’s Church once a month, since we had two preschoolers in that age group.” “What will we do with our older girls during that time? Oh well, they can come along and maybe help out or else read a book in the corner while they are waiting.”
What began as a couple year commitment until our kids were through with the preschool age has lasted nine years now! When the second Sunday of the month rolls around, there it is on Google Calendar. Did the “been there, done that age group, ready to move on” thought ever creep into our minds? Yep. Do we feel we are necessarily in our “passion area” or our “comfort zone”? Nope. I’m an admin girl and my husband is an upfront teaching kinda guy and not particularly drawn to preschoolers.
Do you think our kids have ever wanted to quit? NEVER. In fact, it’s been the opposite. Our 11th grader asked to serve in 11 am Sunday School twice a month. She also wanted to lead a Sparks group on Wednesdays and is now a Route 56 small group leader. Our 12th grader wanted to do Special Needs ministry another Sunday a month. She also picked up Wednesday night nursery somewhere along the way and worked her way up from a helper to a leader. Our 8th grader has added 4th Sunday nursery to her schedule. Our 6th grader is asking most EVERY WEEK if it’s our week to serve and — if not — can she ask if Miss Amy needs her this week? Sometimes you may see my husband and I around the hallways or having a cup of java during the 11 am service. We are patiently waiting for our girls to finish serving so we can go home!! Their eagerness and positive attitude in serving has been an inspiration for us!
Is our girls’ eagerness to serve a result of Super Parenting on our part? The idea makes me laugh, it’s so far from the truth. No, the credit certainly goes to God. He has graciously taken a small sacrifice on our part and turned it into a huge blessing.
Here are some of the benefits that have come from our family serving together in the church, which is why our girls seem to never want to leave:
Our family has connected with young families in relationship. We love on the kids and they trust us and love us in return. What a thrill to get hugs in the hallways from young kiddos who know us from serving. The girls see themselves as role models for these children. What a joy to get to see young families grow in Christ.
The girls have been given jobs to do and take great pride in fulfilling their responsibilities. The job may have started out as “filling cups for snack” but has grown to “running the sound” or “leading a group activity.” Confidence in their role has blossomed as ministry leaders have given them increased responsibility and training. They feel relied upon, supported and appreciated by adult leaders and volunteers.
Family Bonding. It’s fun to share stories of the funny things the kids say and do. We feel more connected when we serve together as a team. We’ve been able to observe them and point out their strengths and encourage them in their areas of weakness. It thrills my heart to see watch our kids caring and supporting these youngsters and modeling for them a life of faith.
Serving has helped our girls feel connected to our church and the body of Christ at large. They love being part of the TEAM and know they have a vital role in fulfilling the church’s mission of “Changing our Lives, Changing our World, All Through Christ.” I have full confidence that when they leave our home, they will seek out a church where they can plug in and serve.
Notice that the parents did not have “a grand and well-defined parenting plan.” They were faithful to participate in the church and untold positive outcomes ensued.
Notice that the parents were not serving “in their area of giftedness.” Preschoolers are not their thing! A higher calling was reached, and simultaneously preschoolers were served. Not only did this family serve together, but as a result of their serving together their daughters were able to taste and see that God was good – through serving Him.
Notice that these parents are “sacrificing” their own time and schedules, first, to serve as a family, and then to facilitate their own daughters leadership pursuits within the church. The prayers, and hopes, and dreams of this mom and dad, burning within their hearts when their daughters were still in diapers – are coming true.
Clearly, God causes the growth, but are we planting seeds for Him to do 30, 60, even 100 times what we ever thought or imagined or expected?
Wow! Praise God for particular families to be an example to the flock.