Every year, we highlight a variety of opportunities for serving during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our great Ministry Partners always provide us with quite the list, and our great Watermark members always fill up hundreds of spots with serving!
But the goal of all this serving isn’t – or shouldn’t be – simply “checking the box” during a season that inspires selfless acts. Instead, it’s the chance for us to stretch ourselves, to let God grow our hearts, to impact our families or our community groups, and to consider ways we can serve others in the year to come.
With that in mind, we’ve got two challenges for this holiday season.
Challenge #1: GIVE and GO
The first churchwide challenge we’re issuing is to choose at least one GIVING opportunity and at least one GOING opportunity.
Why? Sometimes it’s tempting simply to do the easiest thing possible. For some, that’s donating online or preparing an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. For others, it’s easiest (and most fun) to go with friends to a service project (especially if someone else plans it!). So what if you took an additional step this year?
This challenge thwarts the “easy” mindset. It encourages everyone to take the extra step of both giving to others and going to serve, of investing both our time and our “treasure.”
Fortunately, our Holiday Serve site is organized by “Give” and “Go” categories! Of course, some will find their own opportunities, too – you may GIVE a Thanksgiving meal to someone you’re in relationship with, and you might GO serve the teachers of your kids’ school! That might just make for the best service of all!
Challenge #2: Expand Your Impact
If you’re already planning to serve, consider ways you might “expand” that impact. We’ve prepared a guide for Operation Christmas Child along those lines, but these four possibilities can apply to most projects:
- Service projects may provide a chance to disciple others. Whether you’re GIVING or GOING, each outreach opportunity provides the chance to talk about the spiritual principles involved, or have dialogue about what each person learns. No matter the project, you can look up Scriptures that pertain to the cause, look for great web resources or videos, or simply make sure to “debrief” when all is said and done. (For one example of expanding your impact, see our Family Discipleship Guide for Operation Christmas Child.)
- Service projects may provide a chance to involve others. Who could you invite to serve with you? This may include family, community, or friends – both believers and non-believers. These days, people’s first exposure to Christians or the Church may come through serving side-by-side.
- Service projects may allow for follow-up opportunities. For instance, if you choose to bake for the teachers of Carr Elementary, you could also help deliver the treats! If you adopt a student at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy, you might also try to help with their luncheon. Or if you make an Operation Christmas Child shoebox, you could “follow the box” by serving at the Processing Center. Taking additional steps is better for us and for those we serve! (Those are all listed at our Holiday Serve site, by the way!)
- Service projects may provide a vision for ongoing service. Why not use a holiday project as a chance to “try out” a potential avenue for ongoing service? Or conversely, if you or your group have a great time or find your hearts stirred, God may want you to come back to serve again… and again!