Your church and charitable nonprofits share one major attribute: a mission to serve the community. Your outreach is ministry-centric and nonprofits provide goods or services to beneficiaries, but both depend on the generosity of people. 

That’s where your church can maximize its impact on the community. While many nonprofits depend on individual donors and corporate support to fulfill their missions, those involved in the children’s ministry at your church may represent an untapped source of support. As a children’s ministry leader, it’s your responsibility to inspire service among your church’s kids so that they know how to go out into the world and make a difference.

In this guide, we’ll explore five ways you can spark a passion for service in your children’s ministry. Let’s begin!

1. Incorporate service into your children’s ministry lessons.

Your children’s ministry curriculum likely teaches the values of loving your neighbor and showing kindness. But telling kids to be kind is one thing; moving them to put their faith into action is an entirely different challenge.

Draw a direct parallel between the lessons in your curriculum to real-life examples by explaining (and showing) how giving back to the community can show God’s love. Specifically, you can help kids understand how service impacts:

  • Nonprofit leaders: Serving others starts by collaborating with nonprofit professionals, and kids can bless these individuals when they offer to help with nonprofit work.
  • Beneficiaries: Depending on the nature of the nonprofit, kids may not directly come into contact with beneficiaries of the organization’s work. However, their service can have a significant impact on beneficiaries’ lives. And how amazing it is when they can see that impact!
  • The community: Every beneficiary helped by charitable service is part of a community, which means the overall community will be positively impacted when kids and their families give back. 

Lean on nonprofit stories and impact reports to provide concrete examples of the organization’s work. These narratives help to illustrate the need for and impact of service. Then, you can incorporate topics of nonprofit service into your curriculum’s core lessons. For example, in a lesson about appreciating and caring for God’s creations, you might introduce an environmental nonprofit and talk about the importance of recycling.

2. Set an example of giving back.

Kids learn how to talk, walk, and do many other things by imitating others’ behaviors. The same thing can be said about service! That’s why your children’s ministry should encourage volunteers, parents, and children to give back. 

An easy way to cultivate a culture of giving and serving among your church’s whole congregation is to offer roles that serve the church. For example, without your church’s tech team volunteers, you wouldn’t have the technology to access the digital resources that accompany your curriculum.

Your church as a whole should partner with and donate to local nonprofits and support charitable organizations that align with your mission. Point out this service to give kids an example of service in action that’s close to home and inspire them to get involved, too.

3. Explain the biblical basis for service.

According to Wonder Ink’s guide to choosing a biblical curriculum, encouraging children to trust Scripture is at the core of your ministry’s teaching. That’s why you choose biblically-based teaching materials, and the same should be said for conversations about giving back.

Providing Scriptural references and lessons to explain nonprofit work shows that loving your neighbor is not just a Sunday school lesson, but a core part of kids’ faith. 

While the Bible doesn’t provide a list of fundraising ideas for kids, there are plenty of resources about loving your neighbor and serving others. Here are just a few verses you could share:

  • 1 Peter 4:10
  • Isaiah 58:10
  • Matthew 25:40

A biblically-based children’s curriculum might also include Scripture references about serving others if the topic is covered in the curriculum’s lessons. Utilize these resources and do your own research to find exactly the right resources for explaining the importance of service.

4. Coordinate fundraising and volunteering opportunities

As a children’s ministry leader, your main objective is to teach and instruct. However, you can inspire kids to act on this teaching by creating a clear path for them to do so, which is why you should coordinate age-appropriate service activities for the kids in your ministry.

Here are some fun, kid-friendly ways your children’s ministry can serve nonprofits right from your church building:

  • Food fundraisers: Remember, service isn’t strictly volunteerism. Your children’s ministry can also serve others by raising funds for nonprofit causes, and a kid-favorite fundraising idea is to sell tasty treats. Launch a food fundraiser by selling something like cookie dough or popcorn to raise funds for a nonprofit cause. Kids will be excited to sell (and buy!) the snacks at home, school, and everywhere else.
  • In-kind donations: Because nonprofits offer goods or services to their beneficiaries, these organizations often need supplies to do so. Your children’s ministry could collect these much-needed items through a food or supplies drive and donate them to a nonprofit at the end of the collection period.
  • Packing projects: Many nonprofits need help organizing and packing supplies, such as bagged lunches for the hungry or Christmas gifts through Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child. Your children’s ministry can buy supplies or ask volunteers and parents to donate them, then set up a large space in your church building as a packing area. Kids can help pack boxes or bags of supplies until they run out, and a children’s ministry leader can deliver the packed materials to the nonprofit afterward. This is great for church-wide participation as well!

By hosting these events, you’ll make it easy and exciting for kids to serve others since they can do it alongside their friends from church without leaving the building. Creating a service activity within your church gives kids a taste of giving back so that they’ll be excited for more opportunities afterward.

5. Show your appreciation for their service.

According to Fundraising Letters, showing meaningful appreciation can “motivate volunteers to stick around and do their best work.” This means that the best way to reinforce kids’ service is by thanking them for it!

Just as you explain the importance of giving back to encourage volunteers, parents, and kids to get involved, you can explain the impact of their work after the fact to spark a passion for continuous service. Here are a few ways to emphasize the importance of their service:

  • Thank-you cards: Whether you send a handwritten note or an eCard with fun animations, kids will feel especially appreciated when you send a personalized note thanking them for their specific service.
  • Gifts: Tangible items to show your gratitude can be memorable ways to thank kids for their service, especially since they can keep these items for a long time. Give gifts like framed certificates or stuffed animals branded to your children’s ministry to show your appreciation.
  • Appreciation party: Reward kids who serve with a celebration they’ll enjoy, such as an ice cream or pizza party. Make the event fun, but be sure to emphasize the point of the celebration and at some point during the party, remind kids of the impact they were able to make.

No matter which appreciation idea you go with, be sure to thank the parents, as well. After all, without parents, kids wouldn’t be a part of your children’s ministry in the first place! Their efforts are equally as impactful because they register and make sure their kids are involved in the service activities—whether through donating time, funds, or active involvement.

From introducing the idea of service to thanking kids for their involvement, your children’s ministry should facilitate a positive experience with giving back to the community. Remember to lean on resources like your ministry’s curriculum for guidance on teaching and encouraging charitable giving.