Youth groups thrive on fun activities. Special events and seasonal celebrations bring teens together and encourage interaction among peers. Sometimes it feels like these things need to be flashy and exciting in order to engage students and compete with other demands on their attention. We might throw in a devotion or simple Bible study at some point, but the focus is often on the game or event itself. It’s fine to provide entertainment and enjoyable gatherings, but it’s also important to offer volunteer opportunities for servant projects. We can emphasize to our youth that community service is not just about filling in hours for school requirements, but is a way to genuinely serve God and honor others.
The Bible is full of reminders of the importance of giving ourselves to benefit other people. After all, the life of Christ was an example of sacrifice and service. He is the ultimate example of servant leadership. Jesus also said that whatever we do “to the least of these” we do for Him (Matthew 24:31-46). When we help people, it’s like we are helping Jesus Himself. The greatest commandment that Christ gives is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:28-31). Our appreciation for God’s work in our lives should naturally lead to a desire to serve His people. We are reminded in James 1:27 to “visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” This could very well apply to all in need, really. Communicating these Scriptural truths to our teens provides a great foundation for servant events. There are many methods of helping in the church, community, and wider scope. Consider a few of these possibilities if you’d like to start or continue a regular service program with your youth group…
Volunteer Project Ideas: Serving Others Events for Youth Ministry Groups
- Fundraisers: Plan a fundraiser event, but rather than proceeds going to the youth group, designate a charity to receive the funds instead. It’s a fun way to demonstrate that teens have hearts for outreach and ministry.
- Visit the elderly. Arrange a trip to an assisted living facility in the area, if available. You might also find shut-ins who would like visits from a few students at a time. Teens might even strike up a new friendship with an older person!
- Go Caroling! This could be a seasonal consideration, or maybe you decide to serenade people in the middle of summer! Encourage musical talent and festivity by finding places to sing carols. Bonus: if this is done at a facility for elderly, it’s likely their hearing won’t be good enough to know if the singing is less than perfect.
- Assist the homeless: Most areas have opportunities to work with those who have housing needs. You might arrange a time to help at a shelter, make sack lunches, or even find a local community in need. *Use wisdom and discernment to keep teens safe while working with housing needs.
- Church work days: Sometimes opportunities can be found in your own backyard! Take time to arrange a servant event at the church, taking care of whatever might be most needed within the Congregation.
- Trash Clean-up: This might seem simple, but is significant: clean up trash in the area and explain the importance of caring for creations.
- Overseas opportunities: this at times matches with seasonal opportunities…you might put together boxes for “Operation Christmas Child” (Samaritan’s Purse) or offer a fundraiser for another country.
- Families in need: this can be seasonal or outreach-related. Explore families in the Congregation or the area that need assistance, and determine how to serve them.
- Assist at events: Do you have activities for children or other ages? Offer teens ways to help with younger students, and also make their presence known to the congregation as a whole. This can also allow fun interactions across ages!
Whatever you choose, emphasize to students the value of their service. By helping others, they are truly the hands and feet of Jesus. Youth groups are great for promoting relationships and camaraderie as teens learn about the Lord. With planning and creativity, time with student can also be a blessing to others in need.