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10 Ways to Make a Difference in 2014

DifferenceA new year brings new opportunities to reach out to your community. In today's blog, I wanted to share with you some great ideas from our friends in ministry to help the kids in your ministry make a difference for God in 2014.

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FEED THE HUNGRY

Answering kids' questions about people who are homeless can be difficult. The Bible teaches us to help those in need, but we also want to do so wisely. With a little preparation, you can prepare your kids to be a blessing to those in need. Take up a "homeless collection" to raise money for gift cards. Then purchase gift cards in small dollar amounts from fast food chains. Give the gift cards to your kids and encourage them to be ready to distribute the cards when they see someone in need. For an added bonus, have kids decorate envelopes with Bible verses, and use those to contain the gift cards.

Kristy Coughlin Phoenix, Arizona

 

PRAYERS FOR THE WORLD

Get kids thinking-and praying-on a global scale. Bring in a newspaper that reports on world events or a laptop with Internet access. Help kids look for news stories about problems other countries are facing, including natural disasters, economic turmoil, or political problems. Bring in a world map, or find one online, so kids can locate each country they read about. Then have kids stack their hands on that country on the map and pray for the concerns they read about.

 

DRIVE-IN MOVIE OUTREACH

Before drive-in movie theaters become a quaint memory of the past, host a community outreach for families. We use our church movie license to order a pre-release of a family movie before it comes out on DVD. Then we show the movie at a drive-in theater we've partnered with. If you can't get access to a drive-in theater, you can make a huge screen using a white sheet and attach it to the side of your church building. We offer free popcorn and cotton candy for all. We also have a concession stand to sell hotdogs and goodies. The concession sales more than cover our expenses, and the event helps spread our ministry's name in our community.

Cheryl Stanley Throwbridge, Ontario

 

GOD'S GARDENERS

I've used this rewarding project with younger kids and preschoolers to help them learn concepts related to care, harvest, and giving. Beginning in late spring, prepare a small garden area for the kids to tend on your church grounds. Over the next months, let kids plant, water, feed, weed, pick, taste, and share what they've grown.

Begin with cherry tomatoes because they're easy, tasty, and take a while to grow. Buy several plants, support them as they grow, and have kids participate in each stage of growth. Plant other vegetables as space and time allow. Let kids know that they'll donate the garden's harvest to families in need. You'll need volunteers to water the garden during the week. Have kids pray every week for the plants to be fruitful and to thank God for his provision and bounty.

Whenever plants are ready for harvest, let the kids pick and wash the vegetables, then deliver them to a local food bank.

Sara LloydHenderson, North Carolina

 

HOST A BLOCK PARTY

When we think of missions, jungles and grass huts may spring to mind. But local missions are every bit as important and often overlooked. Your ministry can make a huge impact by investing in a local low-income neighborhood near you, and the cost and effort is minimal.

Start by hosting a simple block party. Grill hot dogs, rent a bounce house, and set up soccer games and crafts for the kids. Encourage your kids beforehand to get out there and play with the other kids, serve them food and lemonade, and meet at least five new kids during the party. Your kids will walk away with more compassion for others and a greater appreciation for their own blessings.

Courtney Walsh Loveland, Colorado

 

OUTREACH LUNCH BAGS

Our church sees many hungry visitors each week. And thanks to the work of our kids, we're able to help by distributing pre-packed lunch bags.

Throughout the month, our children either collect or bring in the needed items for the lunch bags. Then once a month, the kids decorate paper bags with words of encouragement, such as "Jesus loves you" or "You're loved by God." We assemble the bags with about eight items that contribute to a nutritious lunch, such as a fruit cup, a juice box and water bottle, raisins, granola bars, cheese crackers or peanut butter crackers, applesauce cups, fruit snacks, breakfast bars, a spoon, and a napkin. We close this service project time by praying for the recipients and asking God to meet their needs. This project has been a very tangible and successful way for our children to love God and serve people in need.

Joy ZilarScottsdale, Arizona

 

BACKPACK BUDDIES

When our ministry team discovered that thousands of kids in our community who depend on free lunches at school were essentially going hungry over the weekends, we created "Backpack Buddies" to address that need.

The children on our Backpack Buddies team fill lunch bags with healthy, prepackaged foods for kids to eat over a weekend. We give the bags to the school counselor, who places them in needy children's backpacks on Friday afternoons. To gather healthy food items, our church families conduct neighborhood collections. They distribute fliers to every house listing the needed items and then pick up the food donations a few days later.

Our kids have learned a significant mission as they spread the word, collect food, and assist in preparing and praying over the food bags. More important, our kids see that they don't need to travel far to find someone in need of God's love.

Jenny FunderburkeAlabaster, Alabama

WATER BOTTLE OUTREACH

We tend to take water for granted-until we grow thirsty on a hot summer day. This summer, help kids use simple bottled water to reach out to their friends or community. Purchase self-adhesive labels to stick on water bottles. On the labels, print "Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life."-Jesus (John 4:14)

Let kids decorate the labels by coloring images of water around the words. Challenge kids to take home a supply of bottles and hand them out to their friends and neighbors.

Andrea Erbrecht Charleroi, Pennsylvania

 

CAPITALIZE YOUR RESOURCES

You can add some serious "wow" power to your next outreach event simply by tapping existing resources in your community. For example, the city of Chicago has a mobile truck that offers free health screenings. In many communities, fire and police departments are willing to come to events to educate families on fire prevention and safety. Offering added services and education as part of outreach events you're already planning can be a big draw and show that you care about people's practical needs. People in your church can also offer a wealth of resources, such as discount candy if they work for a candy company or pet care tips if they work at a veterinary clinic. By accessing the resources around you, you can offer even more to your community.

E.C. CunninghamChicago, Illinois

PRAYERS ON PILLOWS

Many hospitals won't allow young children to visit, but the kids in your ministry can still encourage their ill friends by making comfort pillows. You'll need one new plain, white pillowcase for the child in the hospital. Simply place a piece of cardboard inside the pillowcase so colors won't bleed through the fabric, and then have kids decorate it by  writing a comforting Scripture or message such as "God Bless You" or "We're praying for you" in permanent marker or fabric markers. Younger children may simply write their names or draw a picture. When the pillowcase is complete and dry, have kids place their hands on it and pray for the person who'll receive it. Before delivering the pillowcase, wash it in cold water with regular detergent and iron it. Then deliver your gift on behalf of the kids.

Lisa Wood Frankfurt, Kentucky

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How do you help your kids make a difference in their world? Share with us using the comment section below!

Posted at 11:56

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