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We've been sharing multiple ways of using the Advent season to bring your family closer to Christ and to each other. Far from being just another holiday tradition, Advent can be an amazing opportunity to disciple your children and teach them some of the deeper truths of scripture!
You can read about how to get started with simple Advent Devotions here and some simple ideas to add Fellowship to your Advent celebration here.
The final aspect of our Advent traditions is family ministry. As Christians we should seek to be involved in ministry all year long, but the holidays seem to lend themselves to extra opportunities for sharing with others. There are so many lonely and hurting people and the Christmas season seems an especially difficult time for them.
I want my children to know just how blessed they are and to enjoy serving others.
Christmas is truly a magical time and I am passionate about making memories together with my family. But, if we are not careful and intentional with our plans, Christmas can be a very self-centered time. That's why my husband and I strive carefully to keep a good balance of ministry and fun during the Advent season. You can read about our Advent devotions here and family fun activities here.
Before I share some of the simple ways we have participated in ministry as a family during the Advent season, let me give you the "secret" to teaching your children to joyfully serve. It's pretty deep. Are you ready?
Just do it.
They will learn to put others ahead of themselves and to serve joyfully by doing. From the time your children are very young, look for opportunities to minister together as a family. Serve with your church. Serve with friends. (It's always more fun to serve with friends!) It doesn't have to be elaborate or cost you a ton of time and money, just do it!
You will be exceedingly blessed and your children will learn by experience that it truly is "more blessed to give than to receive"!
Here are a few of the simple ways we have served together as a family in the Advent season.
Deliver food to a homeless shelter
Last year, we visited our local homeless shelter with good friends. Each of our families brought groceries, then we stayed awhile and visited with some of the folks staying there. Afterwards we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant. It was a great night of fellowship and ministry and beautiful memories!
Christmas carol at a local nursing home
This is a wonderful way for your children to practice speaking, singing or playing their musical instruments in front of others. The elderly absolutely LOVE to watch the young children performing! We have gone to a local nursing for many years with our homeschool co-op and performed everything from songs to magic acts to comedy. It is always very warmly received by the residents.
Write letters to servicemen and women overseas
There are so many great organizations you can use for sending letters and care packages to the men and women serving our country. I can't remember the exact organization we used, but here are some of the most popular:
Operation We Are Here
America's Adopt a Soldier
Holidays for Heroes
A Million Thanks
Send a care package to missionaries overseas.
Is there a missionary family that your church supports? Use this Advent season to teach your children where that missionary is working and why your church supports them.
Pray for them.
Find their location on a map.
Then put together a care package along with cards and letters of support. This is a fantastic way to get your children involved in missions and to give encouragement to a missionary family overseas during the holidays.
Deliver hot cocoa and coffee to cold Salvation Army bell ringers
Anyone can do this no matter how limited on time or resources they are! My kids absolutely LOVED it when we did this. It's as simple as driving through McDonalds to order a few coffees, and then delivering them to some of the freezing cold Salvation Army bell ringers at your local stores. It's simply a way of saying thank you to those willing to volunteer. (Also, it's fun to see the different reactions from the surprised Salvation Army volunteers!)
Clean out your closets and donate gently used toys
This is a wonderful way to encourage our children to think about kids who may not have all the blessings they themselves enjoy. Does your child have a "like new" toy that has not been played with in awhile? Or does your child just have too many toys in general? Explain to them what a toy drive is and ask if they would like to donate some of their own toys this Christmas season. You may be surprised how eager your child will be!
"Elf" someone in your neighborhood or church
This is something new we are going to attempt this year. Basically, it's the idea of making or buying something special to leave on a friend's front porch as secret surprise. You could leave homemade Christmas candies and cookies, or a gift of some kind.
I read of a family that purchases a Nativity set every year and then secretly leaves pieces of the Nativity each day until they have gifted an entire Nativity set. You can also think beyond your own friends and church family. Is there a widow that your family knows would be cheered by such an act? What about a family that has been dealing with illness during the holidays? The opportunities are endless! *Disclaimer* It might be a good idea to swear your little ones to secrecy so your good deeds are not discovered.
It is my sincerest prayer that you have been encouraged to be purposeful in planning your Advent season this year. Whether you go big or small, don't pass up this wonderful opportunity for disciplining your children and sharing the love of Christ in family ministry!
Don't forget to grab our FREE Advent Activity Planning Pages including our printable Advent Charades game!
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