10 Ways to Make a Difference in 2014

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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.

class="MsoNormal">Kristy Coughlin
Phoenix, Arizona

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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.

class="MsoNormal">Cheryl Stanley
Throwbridge, Ontario

class="MsoNormal"> 

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.

style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: right; text-indent: 0.5in"
class="MsoNormal">Sara
Lloyd
Henderson, 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.

style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: right; text-indent: 0.5in"
class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle">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.

style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: right; text-indent: 0.5in"
class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle">Joy
Zilar
Scottsdale, 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.

class="MsoNormal">Jenny
Funderburke
Alabaster,
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.

class="MsoNormal">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.

class="MsoNormal">E.C.
Cunningham
Chicago,
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.

class="MsoNormal">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!

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About Author

David Jennings

David has served kids around the world for the majority of his life. From Texas to Romania, he has followed where God has led him. Most recently, he served for six years as a children's director in the great state of Alabama before moving to Colorado to work for Group as an associate editor.

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