In my Ministry with my kids and youth, we’ve been working for several years now on the concept of BEING the GOOD and always choosing kind. We’ve talked about Jesus’ teachings, leading our lives in the way in which God wants us to, and how John Wesley’s belief is that God is here for EVERYONE.
After awhile, I began to notice a change. The kids began to think of other people and how certain situations would affect others… whether in the church or out in the community. I am not saying that they had NEVER thought of others or never wanted to be helpful… they did! It’s hard to explain, but it just seemed to grow in ways I had not thought of before.
We spent an entire year and a half collecting and fundraising for the shoe that grows… pretty much not long after that charity had come around, and to watch the joy on the faces of the children was truly, as cheesy as it may sound, inspiring. I began to realize that no matter what age the kids were, 3 years to high school… they were excited about helping.
So many times I would see the adults preparing for mission work, or even the senior high and college kids, getting all ready to go on a mission trip, and the younger kids were feeling a little left out. So I suggested one time, a few years back, “would you guys like to help?” and the response was epic. They were all talking at once, a few of them were jumping up and down. And THEN they kind of froze and looked at me. “WHAT do you mean help?” they wanted to know.
I asked if they’d like to help work on the mission trip fundraising. Whether is was helping to bake for a bake sale, or sit at the table with a high school “buddy” to help collect money… or EVEN to help me, when the time came, to pack some Ziploc bags full of different supplies for each youth going on the trip to take with them.
They rose to the occasion and they were SO EXCITED. And they WANTED to help! They worked tirelessly, with an enthusiasm that I think we adults don’t even have sometimes. They want to be helpful SO MUCH and not only that, they wanted TO HELP… their hearts were full of love for people in need, or their youth family who were going out in the world to DO GOOD, or for the older people in the church, whom we would discuss often. A lesson on kindness we had one week was about the older people in the congregation and how often they were alone at home because their families didn’t always live near-by. What could we, as their CHURCH Family, do for them? They decided on making cards to send in the snail mail so they’d know that they were being thought about. I knew then, that these kids needed more.
I came up with the idea of a “mini mission” program. Now, I am SURE someone else out in the world has too… but at least around me, I created it, lol.
I’d design some mini missions to do throughout the year that “mini Methodists” could handle doing, both on their own, and with help from the church family.
I’ve seen them grow even more these past few years – in their hearts, and in their thinking of others, and in how they see the world and their place in it. It’s a special thing to watch. The Youth Group also pitches in and it’s kind of a cool thing to watch them get into having giving hearts, and to support the younger kids, who look up to them SO MUCH. The Youth think they’re helping out the younger kids… but in reality they’re getting a lot out of using their gifts and talents and growing into mature and kind-hearted people.
Mini missions can range in level from making the cards for people, to collecting pop cans for a couple months to make money to donate… to helping stuff those mission bags, to going and packing food at a mission (appropriate to their ages… I have taken the younger kids to our city’s food pantry, but NOT to the Cleveland City food bank – that is something our Youth do…) to making ornaments for people in your community Nursing Homes, to baking cookies for the older people in our church… to letting your younger kids take part in helping the Youth in any way whatever the Youth Mission Project is each year, and more!
A mini mission is also a wonderful way to be intergenerational. Sometimes, the adults get involved in the Mini Mission in their brains to “help out” the younger kids or youth… and they end up becoming so engaged and finding so much joy in their projects, that it affects their hearts and faith as well. And that is what it’s all about. Growing our faith as we go on our journey, trying to walk like Christ… And John Wesley’s request of us to Do no harm, Do good, stay in love with God.
Kira Cimino Holchin, DCE & Youth Pastor, Rockport UMC