Missions, ministry projects encourage spiritual growth, cultivate missions hearts into adulthood

Missions, ministry projects encourage spiritual growth, cultivate missions hearts into adulthood

By Carolyn Tomlin
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Workers in children’s ministry teach children from many different home environments. Some are active in missions programs. Others are on the church roll but seldom attend.

Teachers and leaders in children’s ministry are challenged to:

  • encourage families to be proactive in missions
  • plan practical and upbeat activities children want to attend
  • show that missions start in the local community
  • implement projects leading to spiritual growth.

“It’s important to help children find ways to help others,” said Joye Smith, preschool consultant for Woman’s Missionary Union. “The message is that God loves me, and God loves you. These experiences instill God’s love with children.”

Children’s Missions Day, observed this year on Feb. 15, is a day to help children help others in Christ’s name.

From feeding hungry people to visiting shut-ins, Children’s Missions Day is a time for boys and girls to follow God’s command to “put your love into action” (1 John 3:18) and share the gospel through words and actions.

Children can be missionaries in their own community by sharing about Jesus.

Ideas appropriate for elementary-aged children include:

  • Make fleece scarves for a homeless shelter.
  • Play games with pennies (estimate how many inches 100 pennies will be, how many pennies it takes to outline a child, etc.). Collect pennies to buy individual frozen pizzas for a homeless center for women and children.
  • Volunteer to maintain a community garden site. Display a sign that identifies your children’s missions group. Talk with people who walk by and tell them God loves them.
  • Collect small bottles of shampoo, lotion and toothpaste. Deliver them to a homeless shelter along with a newsletter from your church.
  • Schedule a time to visit an assisted living center. Sing favorite hymns and invite residents to sing along.
  • Collect money to provide The Alabama Baptist for someone on a fixed income or provide copies for a senior center.
  • Gather seasonal clothing to donate to a local Christian service center. Write Scripture verses about God’s love on slips of paper and place them in the pockets of the clothes.

Missions and ministry are closely connected, so talk to children about how each project is missions because it provides opportunities to share the gospel.

And if the second Saturday of February doesn’t work with your church calendar, Smith suggests choosing another day. Any day can be a missions day as long as the purpose is to help children “get outside the church and help others,” she said.

Aside from following Jesus’ example of service to others, other reasons exist to engage children in community service and missions projects. Many school organizations recognize community service, and many colleges consider community service in the application and scholarship granting process.

‘As they grow’

Another bonus — children who are involved in missions early in life are more likely to continue this work when older.

And when children work together they learn to solve problems, make decisions and discover ways to contribute to their church and community. This serves them for the present and as they grow into Christ-centered adults.