Reasons to Encourage Your Kids to Participate in Outreach
Since 2000, my husband has worked in ministry, specifically evangelism to local communities. We now have two kids in school and a busy life, yet I believe it’s important to continue to provide opportunities for our kids to participate in outreach.
Outreach is much more than handing out Bible brochures, giving Bible studies and inviting the neighborhood to an evangelistic seminar. Outreach is all the things we can do day-to-day to help others.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30–31).
Reaching Out Fosters Empathy
The ability to understand and share the feelings of others is not always easy. We can foster empathy in our children by providing outreach opportunities. Make and deliver sandwiches to homeless people, plan stuffed animal drives for a local children’s hospital, donate canned food to the food bank, and serve hot chocolate and apple cider at the homeless shelter to give children the ability to see real people in our local community who need our help.
Debrief with the kids after outreach. Talk about how they are feeling and what the people they’ve helped must be feeling. Encourage your children to be empathetic.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15).
Making a Difference
Kids that are involved in active community outreach are truly making a difference. Making a difference in another’s life not only helps that person — it’s also good for our kids. My husband and I often say helping others is really helping us. It makes us happier and more connected to God. Teaching that to our children is very important. Giving our children positive feelings of self-worth by helping others and showing them how important their identity in Christ is are both examples of how family outreach can make a lasting difference.
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased" (Heb.13:16).
While doing community outreach, kids are also learning. Depending on the type of outreach, kids can learn organization skills, leadership skills, and physical and mental strength. Children can also learn better social skills when they are doing outreach to various people in the community. It can give your kids the ability to communicate with people they might not have had the chance to. Most importantly outreach gives our kids the ability to grow closer to God.
"We are also called to follow Christ’s example by compassionately ministering to the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of humanity. As we give ourselves in loving service to those around us and in witnessing to His salvation, His constant presence with us through the Spirit transforms every moment and every task into a spiritual experience" (Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief No. 11: Growing in Christ).
In addition to helping homeless people, shelters and food banks, outreach can include adopting an elderly neighbor. Kids can take out garbage, mow the lawn, rake leaves, walk the dog, and read or play board games with their neighbor. Outreach can even be city park cleanup. Kids working side by side with others to make the outdoors more beautiful is a fun outreach opportunity. Get creative and take your kids on outreach adventures!