Families who are part of faith communities often ask, "What can I do at home? How can I help my kids grow into their own spirituality?" Honestly, there are very simple things we can do as a family that naturally encourage spiritual growth. . . things a lot of families already do. Nancy Bostrom wrote a lovely book called, 99 Ways to Raise Spiritually Healthy Children, from which I like to share exerpts to plant seeds, share ideas and offer encouragement for families of ALL SHAPES AND SIZES. This particular article contains thoughts both from Nancy Bostrom and Karen Hollis.
"Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." Matthew 25:40
We have any number of reasons to not want to add one more thing into our lives, though when it comes to volunteering as a family, benefits strongly outweigh inconvenience.
When we volunteer together, we build ties that bind us not only to each other, but also to the foundations of our faith, as we connect Bible stories to our own. We can then make a tangible connection for our children between Jesus feeding the hungry, healing the sick and their own experience of service to others. This is a place from where faith grows in children, a seed that is planted and grows strong.
Find out what volunteer organizations are accessible in your area – you can also check with Plymouth to see what the church is involved with and how your family can fold in. Social Justice Liaison Jenn Hagedorn is a great resource for ideas and suggestions. Many volunteer opportunities can involve family members of all ages. A homeless shelter may need volunteers to lay out sleeping mats, set tables or pack lunches. Young children can design and color place mats for meals or pour rice into a bag. All ages can pray for the people who will be sheltered for the night and face multiple challenges during each new day.
Children learn self-worth when they can help others. They are connected to a larger world, a world that Jesus asked us to care for. Volunteering puts our own lives in perspective. We are moved to give thanks for the basics we have: a safe place to sleep, food in the fridge, a family who loves us, a God who trusts us to look out for one another.
This year, the Middle YF class is engaging in a service, justice and reflection program, where parents and families are encouraged to participate in projects around our community. Over time, you will see more opportunities and encouraging words for Plymouth families to flex these justice muscles while enjoying time together. Let us be a community who not only serves, but helps form our children as disciples of Christ, on fire for justice in the world.