For the last couple of years, our kids’ ministries have used February as a time to help families in our church and in our community focus on caring for the needs of others. Rather than simply doing a token Valentine’s day craft, we take an entire month to look at what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. Let me share a couple things we’ve done over the last few Februarys in our ministries.
Partnering with local Public Schools
We’ve partnered with a local public school district to raise funds, supplies and awareness for a program in our community that reaches at-risk kids. As a church, we have a strong relationship with the surrounding school districts – I was only a little surprised when I was approached last year with the idea of coming alongside a program that gives children who are struggling in school (socially and/or academically) a space to let go of their worries and connect with a few caring adults through creative play. We asked the program for a list of toys needed to make the year a success and gave out the list to families on Sunday mornings. Families were encouraged to bring in new and slightly used toys to give to this program – they were also encouraged to pray, as a family, for the kids who would be ministered to through their donations. It was a fairly simple idea and a great way for families to serve other kids in the community through giving.
Partnering with Local Food Pantries
We’re blessed to be a part of a church that created and launched a food pantry that is now large enough that it operates as it’s own non-profit organization. Because of the partnership that already exists between the pantry and ourselves, we are able to find out what the most immediate needs are in terms of food donations – it’s a list of those needs that we’ve passed on to families during the month of February for them to rally around and donate toward as they talk about what it means to truly care for others in the community. It’s a blessing to watch children and families drop food into the shopping carts we set out to collect donations – one mom even bragged to me that the donations she brought in were all free to her because of her savvy use of coupons. Very cool.
Partnering with Our Families
One of the things I totally LOVE about the resources we use on Sunday mornings at our church is that our families are being equipped to live out “loving their neighbors” in their own homes, schools and neighborhoods. I dig watching our kids learn about being KIND to others all month long and hearing stories from parents who tell me that their kids are actually putting our Sunday morning lessons into practice. It’s been neat watching our kids learn to love those who live outside of their homes and down the street from them – it’s been a cool experience as I’ve watched the rubber meet the road in how they’re dealing with the people who live down the hall from them. Loving your neighbor is bigger than caring for the people in your own house, that’s for sure. However, our brothers, sisters and parents provide great practice for us to show God’s love toward others – and February is a great month to reinforce that idea.
Those are just a few of the ways that we’ve decided to leverage a month where the world around us is elevating the idea of “love” in order to teach kids and their families to care for others in their home and in their community. If your church or your family has taken a different approach to this concept, you can share your thoughts below in the comments area – we’d love to hear from you!