School is out and summer stretches before us with countless opportunities. We look forward to family vacations and a freer schedule to enjoy with our people. And while summer is a wonderful time to slow down and soak up family time, it’s also a great opportunity to look around and see how we might bless and serve others.
Here are five practical ways to bring our children alongside us as we seek to love and serve this summer:
Offer Childcare to a Single Parent or Working Couple
While summer for many means more time with our kids, for others this is a challenging season trying to juggle extra childcare. If you know a single parent or couple who both work full-time, offer to have their kids over for the day or invite them along for a fun outing. Sending them home with a prepared meal to pop in the oven for dinner is a wonderful treat too.
Ask Your Pastor How You Can Help Around Church
Whether it be volunteering at your church’s Vacation Bible School or other summer outreach or simply weeding the flower beds, your pastor will certainly have ways you and your children can help. Teach by example to see the needs all around and to gladly jump in.
Prepare a Meal for Someone in Need
No matter what difficulties we’re walking through, we still need to eat. One of the most practical ways we can love others is with a thoughtfully prepared meal. Sit down and make a list with your children or anyone you know who could use a little extra help. This could include a new mom, the elderly, a widow or widower, those struggling with illness or someone dealing with financial difficulties. Your children will learn how to watch for needs and a hands-on way to help.
Host Dinner or a Backyard BBQ
One of the best ways we teach our children to serve is by modeling hospitality. Now is a great time to invite individuals or families over for a meal. Let your children help extend the invitation, plan and shop for the meal, cook, serve and clean up after. Not only will you get to enjoy dinner with others, but your children will also see firsthand what it looks like to open your home and to create an environment of warmth and welcome.
Create Care Packages for Orphans or Missionaries
In our prosperous culture, it’s easy to forget how many people have so much less. Creating care packages is a great opportunity not only to serve but a great conversation starter as well. As you gather items, talk with your kids about watching for and meeting the needs of others. Research who the care package is for and enlist your children’s help in choosing just the right items for each one. If you are sending the package overseas, talk about the culture where it’s going – about the differences in religious freedom, education, etc. Pray together for the individuals who will receive the items and ask God to give you and your family eyes for the needs all around you.
We’re likely to spend more time shoulder to shoulder with our children during the summer months than any other time of year. Let’s take this opportunity and not only enjoy our summer vacation but also seek out ways to disciple our children in loving and serving others well.