Youth Ministry pre-2020 used to be an in-person ministry with some digital opportunities, but the pandemic has flip-flopped us to be a digital ministry with some in-person opportunities. As we look forward to the summer, it can be overwhelming dreaming of creative experiences for our students, especially ways for them to serve. Most of our service partners are not taking volunteers, and may not take teenagers for the forseeable future.
I took to our Women in Youth Ministry Facebook group, as well as some other brains, trying to dream up a list of some creative ways to serve this summer, ways that could be helpful for any age (including our 5th-8th graders, who are constantly rejected from service sites in the first place!). Here are some ways to serve this summer, no matter the age, in easy ways that honor social-distancing:
- Create hygiene kits and snack packs for local homeless shelters. Here is the wish list I created that contains all the materials we gather when doing these. I’ve done this 5 times now, and it’s always a hit!
- Do a meal packing with organizations like the Million Meal Movement here in Indy. It costs a little bit of money, but you could even do a fundraiser where students ask family friends to sponsor their meals they pack.
- Create bags for kids with activities. You can donate these to food pantries, to fire stations/police stations to give to frightened children, to the Ronald McDonald House, etc.
- Create an alphabet coloring book. Have each student draw an outline of a letter, and they can decorate it to their creativity’s extent. Copy and make into a coloring book and distribute to children.
- Do a Poverty Simulation
- Do a Canned Food Drive. You can even drop off flyers/bags on the doorsteps of homes in your church’s neighborhood with instructions to leave the products on the doorstep another day. Then students can go pick them up — without making contact with people.
- Write cards to first responders, your church’s shut-ins, or the residents at a senior living facility.
- Pot flowers and deliver to a senior living facility.
- Make care packages and deliver to first responders. Make homemade soaps, scrubs, baked goods, etc.
- Partner with a local farm or urban garden.
- Do a car wash! Make it free, or charge and donate the proceeds to a cause.
- Do a prayer walk or an anti-racism walk with information about the roots of racism in the community.
- Create kits for the younger children in your church for worship.
- Do prayer stations, or do a twist and create prayerful “service” stations. An example is making inspirational rocks that students can scatter throughout their city. They can also write a thank-you card to a ministry leader or first responder.
- Make tie-blankets. Donate to a shelter.
- Painting anything around the church (but make this intergenerational and have lots of adults!)
- Washing windows is always my default when we’ve run out of other projects!
I believe that these service projects will survive the pandemic and be go-tos for our middle school ministry in the future, as it is so tough for service organizations to take them! Sometimes it takes experiences like the last year to get really creative and think out of the box. If you have any ideas to add to this list, I’d love to hear them!