Children are constantly exposed to a culture that says, “Serve me” rather than “Serve others.” If children capture the concept of service to others while they are still young, they will most likely be lifelong servants in the Kingdom of God.
Children’s Ministry was offered the opportunity to serve lunch to our church family last Sunday. With it being autumn, we chose an apple theme and called it Johnny Appleseed Day. Two amazing Dads prepared pulled pork and we ordered sweet coleslaw from the local BBQ house. We purchased bread rolls and individual apple sauces from Costco with leftovers given to the food pantry. Then we invited our families to donate as follows:
Kindergartners – bag of apples (any kind), bottle of any kind of BBQ sauce for two sauce bars
1st & 2nd graders – 3 big bags of chips
3rd & 4th graders – large bucket of vanilla ice cream
5th graders – 13×9 baked apple crisp (some amazing ladies in our church also made crisps)
Following the first, early service, we offered apples, apple crisp, and ice cream by the 4th & 5th grade Sunday school class. Following the other services we served all of the above. Parents and teachers who were not leading Sunday school were there to direct students and set up the gym with three serving lines and one dessert serving line. Round tables were set with black table cloths and simple decorative leaves to match the fall season.
Who served? The children! Two adorable 1st graders greeted everyone at the door. Four amazing 3rd graders stood at entrances with donation buckets ready to share where the lunch donations would be spent such as camp/retreat scholarships, special guests, and missions supplies. 2nd graders manned the two sauce bars to thank their church family for sharing lunch and supporting ministry with children. 4th & 5th graders served BBQ & cole slaw as they directed the 1st & 2nd graders to offer applesauce containers and rolls with plastic gloves that were too big for their little hands. The older kids were helping the littles and they were all laughing and taking their jobs so very seriously. Other students dished out apple crisp, added ice cream, and handed out spoons and ice water.
The kindergartners and 1st graders went from table to table as folks finished their meals to run everything to the cart which would make its way into the kitchen. We used real plates and silverware for creation-care reasons AND so kids could learn to use the commercial dish washer, dry dishes, and put everything away in dry storage. Everyone wanted to learn to use the commercial dishwasher! Who knew?
One Dad came by to tell me his 1st grader wouldn’t stop to eat because he was “needed on the floor”. A 2nd grader wandered to the entrance when he saw there was no one there to greet after the big wave passed. One mom let me know by text ‘My kids have talked about it all afternoon. They had a blast! Who would have ever thought kids would be arguing over whose turn it was to wash dishes?’
I want our kids to serve in meaningful ways. Ways that build relationship. Ways that make for sticky memories engaging all five senses. Ways that look really big in the life of their home church. Ways they can partner with people they love and with those who love them.
Serving in ministry gives us a chance to gauge the spiritual development of our children. A tremendous amount of nurturing each child’s call into ministry can be derived from early service opportunities as they uncover and discover the use of their spiritual and natural gifts. The message we hope to share in our church family is, “Let the kids serve!”
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10