by Karen D. Koch
Does your family have a ministry or mission? Moving overseas is not the only way to serve. Our fragmented society does all it can to “divide and conquer” our families, even Christian homeschooling families, with too many activities, different schedules, jobs, sports, and more. Even at church, we all-too-often find our family members heading in multiple directions.
One simple way to gain or restore family cohesiveness is to develop a family mission, similar to a philosophy of education. Many opportunities provide the means to participate together as a family, adaptable according to your children’s ages and your personal interests.
Possible Service Points
The following is just a suggested list of possibilities. Our family has done several of these, some long-term, some just once or twice. A few things are on our “wish list,” things we’d like to do one day. Others involve financial gifts and some involve time and service. Others were suggestions from friends who have found other niches in which to serve.
Use this list, your family’s personality, and your local opportunities for inspiration. The list is meant to inspire, not to overwhelm. Pick one or two ideas or your own, with input from all family members, regardless of age. Adopt one cause and make it your family’s own. Children learn a great deal more from watching and doing than we think. These possibilities may launch your children into lifetime service of their own.
1. Prepare gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse. Each of our children packs a box annually for a child of their age and gender, starting when they are about three. We know one family that packed 30 boxes one year. Collecting items gradually throughout the year is a cost-effective way to do this. The website provides a list of suggestions and things not to pack.
2. Fill action packs of clothing and toiletry items for persecuted Christians in Pakistan, Sudan, and Afghanistan through Voice of the Martyrs.
3. Visit local nursing homes or perform (sing, play piano or guitar) or just visit with the residents. These people are often lonely and without family nearby.
4. Participate in church work days–pick one family project to do together. We painted fire hydrants and picked up fallen tree branches one time.
5. Help serve meals at the local soup kitchen or volunteer at the food bank or Meals on Wheels.
6. Support a child through Compassion International or World Vision. Even young children can draw pictures to send, and older children can write notes. Everyone in the family can learn about your sponsored child’s country and read the child’s letters. Our two little girls are from India.
7. Fill a need. Samaritan’s Purse and other Christian organizations offer a “gift list” of specific projects families and churches can support with wide price ranges beginning at $7–examples include buying mosquito netting to protect children from diseases to providing chickens or even a water purifier for a community.
8. Distribute fliers in your neighborhood for church events like Christmas productions or Easter services.
9. Do “Secret Service.” Look for projects that need doing, that will bless someone, and that can be done secretly. We replaced a neighbor’s burned-out porch light bulb and cut up her Christmas tree to put in yard waste when the garbage company didn’t take it. We picked up trash and trimmed bushes in the yard of a foreclosed home around the corner.
10. Make meals as a family for new mothers, the sick, the bereaved, and those recovering from hospital stays (check on food restrictions first). Instill in your children the idea of helping those in times of need. People we didn’t even know at our church brought us meals after our fourth child was born. These are kindnesses I won’t forget.
11. Write notes/cards to soldiers serving overseas or visit a military hospital in your area, if possible. My brother served in Iraq for a year and said notes and cards, even from strangers, sustained him through difficult times.
12. Donate blood together–age and weight restrictions apply. Check with your local Red Cross or blood bank.
13. Adopt an elderly neighbor or a single mom who needs help with yard work or grocery shopping, etc.
14. Collect items, raise money or participate in fundraisers for your local crisis pregnancy center. Raise money to contribute toward an ultrasound machine for their clinic–Focus on the Family has Operation Ultrasound.
15. Collect hygiene items or clothing/socks for a homeless shelter.
16. Give friends and family gifts of Christian magazines for Christmas or birthdays—Focus on the Family has great selections for kids and adults. Answers in Genesis also produces a great, educational magazine.
17. Collect Thanksgiving food for baskets or donate through your church.
18. Participate in the Angel Tree program–Christmas gifts for children of prisoners.
19. Collect soup labels and box tops for education for Christian schools or Christian youth camps that collect these to use toward school supplies. My homeschool co op collects these.
20. Honor veterans, shake their hands, and thank them for their service when you see them (they often wear a hat: WWII Veteran or Vietnam Veteran). Put out your flag on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, etc. Teach your children what these days mean.
21. Sponsor short-term missionaries any time you can, even if it’s $10 or a prayer commitment. Attend missionary informational or missions presentations as a family. These life-changing experiences are incredible faith-builders.
22. Purchase and send Bibles to restricted countries through Bibles Unbound and Voice of the Martyrs. Complete details are on the VOM website. VOM produces an annual World Report booklet with short descriptions of persecution and conditions in that country. We read one country aloud each day in school. Some discernment may be necessary, particularly with younger children, when reading these.
23. “Adopt” a missionary family. Support them monthly or write to encourage them. Your children can be pen-pals with their children. Let the church know of their needs. Be careful when sending gifts overseas—when I served as a missionary, I often had to pay more tax on the item at the post office than the contents were worth, but you can’t know that until you pay the fee. This can be difficult financially for the missionary. DON’T pack soap with the food. The soap smell/taste permeates everything.
24. Support a Christian radio station, local or K-LOVE.
25. Donate Christian books or magazine subscriptions to libraries or Christian colleges. Answers Magazine by Answers in Genesis is a good choice.
26. Partner with the Pocket Testament League and give out pocket copies of the book of John with tips at restaurants and hotels. My daughter made up sandwich baggies with granola bars and a booklet of John to give when we see a person with a “homeless” or “will work for food” sign on a corner.
27. Honor your clergy during October’s Clergy Appreciation Month. Notes, babysitting offers, and gift certificates can be a blessing.
28. Teach a Sunday school class or serve in the nursery with your children as helpers, depending on their ages.
29. Publicize and participate in the National Day of Prayer in May and the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in November.
30. Have a jar to save stray coins for a particular cause that the family selects.
31. Go on a short- or long-term mission trip as a family.
32. Pack food for the hungry at Gleanings for the Hungry while staying at their facilities.
33. Conduct a voter registration drive at your church. For guidelines and rules on how to do this, check with your local election office and read an article with guidelines at Focus on the Family (search with keywords voter registration).
34. Maintain your membership in Home School Legal Defense (HSLDA) and CHEA, and support Family Protection Ministries (FPM) when you can. We stand together to defend your homeschooling rights so you can commit to teaching your children God’s Word.
35. Volunteer at a CHEA Convention.
Developing a mission within your own family will have eternal consequences, not just for those you serve, but for you and your children as you grow and learn to serve together.
Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child
Focus on the Family, Operation Ultrasound, publications, clergy appreciation month, voter registration drives
Gleanings for the Hungry
Voice of the Martyrs, Action Packs, Bibles Unbound, International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Answers in Genesis
Pocket Testament League
National Day of Prayer
(provides tools for assessing charitable giving opportunities)
*Please use discernment when selecting an organization(s).
Karen D. Koch serves as CHEA’s communications assistant and has been homeschooling for 11 years. She is married to Monte and has four children ages 7-19. She’d love to hear about your family’s ministry ideas at email@example.com. This article originally appeared in the California Parent Educator.