We started our service small group almost a year ago with a bunch of ideas, but we also came with open hands. We want to let God shape our restlessness. We want to be available for Him to use us as we live our faith with our kids and other families right where we live. So that’s what we’ve been doing and will continue to do.
This past Sunday, we hosted one of my favorite traditions and I was reminded how God meets us where we are. Years ago, my family started hosting a Jesus Birthday Party with a couple other families. It’s gradually grown from three families in my living room to include other friends and then other friends and then this year the community.
We had party games, face painting, balloon animals, a local radio station DJ, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, coloring sheets, popcorn, and cupcakes. Admission was free, but we collected donations for the local food pantry and pregnancy resource center.
I didn’t get a head count, but I have a trunk full of donations to distribute this week. I didn’t recognize all the faces, but I knew God brought together who needed to be there. Laughter and a sweet rendition of “Happy birthday to Jesus!” filled the room.
We celebrated the birth and life
of the One who gives us true life.
That’s what serving other does in general.
There’s a lot I could tell you about the restlessness that prompted Greg and me to start this group or how it was hard to leave the small group that had loved us well for years. But today’s story is about how this year-old small group has been exactly what we needed this year. And I’m hoping that’s what the people who mostly didn’t even know each other in January but gathered faithfully with us would say too.
Here are our details, which have worked well but are always subject to change: We typically meet on Wednesday evenings. If we aren’t doing a service project, we often meet at my house, where we share a meal, pray for each other, brainstorm ideas, or study scripture. During the summer, the kids sometimes swam while the adults talked and planned and prayed. My point in sharing that: Share life together so the relationships deepen. That makes serving together even more meaningful.
We try to do at least two service projects each month, but the frequency varies based on schedules and ideas.
During the first meeting we brainstormed ideas and then we gradually started scheduling them. As the host, I try to think ahead while being aware and available to meet needs as they arise. I initiate a group text each week with details of what’s happening. And, of course, I ask people what they want to do.
Our group has as many as eight kids eleven and younger, so the whole “serving with your family” part is really important to us. Serving with our own kids – who were nine, seven and one when we started – was one of the reasons my husband and I were willing to step away from the comforts of our previous small group. We haven’t gotten to serve at the local soup kitchen yet because they won’t let our kids volunteer with us. We didn’t personally deliver the care packages we made for a group of children in foster care because the specific ministry we made them for wouldn’t let our kids visit with their kids at their property.
Despite what we haven’t done, our kids have done plenty of service with us. They’ve sorted clothes for the local crisis pregnancy center, played with the foster kids we were babysitting, made cards for nursing home residents and foster children, sang worship songs at the assisted living facility, and helped paint a porch for a campus ministry at our town’s university.
Obviously, what we’re able to do changes with seasons in life. Serving together has reminded me not to grow too comfortable in on stage because God is always working. I don’t want to miss what He has for us because I’m growing too comfortable in my own ways.
Part of this post is an edited excerpt of the free “How to Serve in the Community with Your Family” guide I created for my email friends. If you haven’t already received a copy, you can do so here.
Barbara H. says
I love this! What neat ways to serve together as a family.
Michele Morin says
I love hearing about how you and your family are bonding with other families through sharing life and ministry together.
This is a beautiful picture of the church in action!
Thanks! It’s definitely one of my favorite things from the whole year.
Patricia Krank says
I love this idea of having a birthday party for Jesus and inviting people to bring gifts to share with those in need. We always have a Christmas With the Kranks party and everyone brings a white elephant gift but this sounds like a new and better idea for next year! Thanks for sharing and holiday blessings to you Kristin.
White elephant gifts are fun too! I love all the Christmas parties. 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement!
Debbie Putman says
My husband and I are starting a new life group in our new home and new community January. I want to use this idea but I don’t want to wait until next Christmas. Maybe we can do our first one in February for Valentine’s Day. Gifts to share the love of Christ.
I love the idea of a Valentine’s Day party! Such a great idea, and one I may do something with here now that you mention it. 🙂 I’m excited to hear how your new group goes, Debbie.
SUSAN SHIPE says
I love the way you live out your faith. The best of Christmases to you and yours. And, that toddler of yours!!!
Thanks, sweet lady! xo
Rachel Lee says
Love, love, LOVE this! Thank you for sharing. My family hosts a group of families in our home each week also, and THIS is my heart. I’m always on the lookout for new ways that we can serve our community, and shine the light of Jesus.
I appreciate that you included the free guide.
Blessings to you and yours this Christmas!
That’s wonderful about your group! I hope the guide helps y’all. Enjoy the Christmas season!
Lisa notes says
I love what you’re doing, Kristin! Such an integral part of our Christian walk is actually DOING things, not just studying things. 🙂 We tried doing something similar with a small group years ago, but it never worked. We’ve since switched churches and now we never lack for great service opportunities every week! And we absolutely love, love this new lifestyle. Thanks for sharing!
Lifestyle – that’s the keyword. It definitely is. I feel like we’re still making changes, but it’s been so good for us. I’m glad y’all get to experience that too, Lisa.
Maree Dee says
I love the Happy Birthday Jesus party idea. Keep up the good work, it is wonderful you are serving as a family and sharing with us how to do it. I will be sharing your post.
Thanks for your kind encouragement and sharing this post, Maree!