At WCCS, it is our hope for our students to not only receive an excellent education, but to discover the God-given talents the Lord has given to each one of them, and in discovering those gifts, to use them to impact the world around them. When we connect classroom learning with service outside of the school walls, we give “hands and feet” to the concepts they are learning.
Service learning is incorporated into curriculum at both the upper and lower school. Just next week, our 4th graders will participate in our annual Box City project. Like most people, the students are accustomed to eating at restaurants and enjoying traditional Thanksgiving dinners to celebrate the holiday. However, on this day, the fourth graders will each bring in a large box and one blanket as well as a rain poncho or garbage bag in case of bad weather. The box is intended to be the student’s “home” and to give them the experience of celebrating the holidays as a less fortunate or homeless person might. Teachers and their students will discuss what they have learned, pray for the homeless and less fortunate, and write about their thoughts in an essay. On Tuesday, they will travel to a soup kitchen, where they will serve lunch to locals. This is just one great example of service learning at our lower school!
So far this year, we have had upper school students serving at the Salvation Army, the Children’s Attention Home, the Adult Enrichment Center, and Pilgrim’s Inn. Art students have done numerous service projects this year including completing art pieces for a local adoption agency and first responders as well as serving at a local church fall festival! Our Beta Club and National Honor Society have several service projects lined up for the remainder of the school year as well.
As parents, we know that you share this desire with us and long for your children to want to be a part of God’s work. It’s never too early or too late to begin cultivating the trait of servanthood in your child.
For this week’s blog, we have invited Nick Turner, Westminster Presbyterian Church Pastor of Families and Children, to share some practical ways in which you, as parents, might instill a sense of genuine servanthood into the hearts of your children.
“How do we teach our children to serve?” Good question, especially in a world that has us staying so busy. As a parent myself, I realize this firsthand. However, the impact that your influence has on your children is invaluable. There is no better way to spend time with your family than to volunteer together and not just during the holiday season, but year-round. Here are a few thoughts…
How Do We Teach Our Children to Serve?
Acknowledge your own struggle. Jesus redefined greatness as serving others in love (Mark 10:35-45). Serving is difficult. Serving with the right motivation even more so. On this side of eternity, our best service is imperfect. We must own our failure to serve, repent, and receive grace from the One who served us.
Model service for your child. While preaching on God’s design for family discipleship in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matt Chandler said, “God’s design is so thorough, so good, that you are making disciples. The question is…What are you discipling them in?” Our children will learn to serve by watching us serve.
Keep it Simple. Teaching our children to serve does not require going on a mission trip or creating a fancy service project (though nothing is wrong with both). Simply evaluate where you are currently serving the Lord and bring your child along with you. For example, if you are delivering a meal to someone in your church have your child by your side.
Talk About It. Tell them along the way what you are doing and why you are doing it. Ask questions afterwards like, “How did it feel to serve that person?” or “What other ideas do you have to help others?” or “How do you feel when someone helps you?”
As you talk with your child, remind them that we do not serve Jesus to earn His love. Our service is a response to His love. In love, He laid down His life for us. We serve because He served us. PS – lay down the smartphone…no pictures or video. We are teaching our children that we serve for His glory alone, not for “likes” on an Instagram page.
Looking for ways you and your family might serve others in the Rock Hill community? Check out this comprehensive guide to serving in Rock Hill.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
Discipleship. Calling. Blessings Others. Seeking not to be served, but to serve. No matter how we talk about it or what we call it, these are important components of learning to live a life with Christ at the center of our lives.
At Westminster Catawba Christian School, our sophomores recently spent the morning with a local agency (Project HOPE) whose sole mission is “to minister and provide basic needs to families and individuals facing crisis situations”.
Looking at, and talking with the students who served, as well as the director of the agency, it was clear we did more than load vans with pallets of food and stock a local food pantry. We were integrating knowledge from the classroom, building character and awareness, forming a closer partnership with our families, and pointing our students to Christ. We’ve learned by serving and giving back, be it through time, talent, or treasure, that we can model and point others towards Christ:
OTHERS FOCUSED. As disciples of Jesus Christ, helping others is a small part of what we are called to do. By helping others, it also stirs within us a desire to be the person Christ created us to be and to find our calling to expand His kingdom. We want our students to better our world by following Jesus, believing that they have been called to learn by God and called to live for God.
INSPIRING OTHERS. Our standard-bearers are a group that began in middle school as partners with the Salvation Army is continuing their efforts to raise money for needed items. Recently, this group of young men set up an endowment fund of almost $21,000 through Westminster Foundation. The group, known as WCCS Pantry Soldiers, recently received an award from the Salvation Army for Volunteer Group of the Year.
THE JOY IN SERVING. Many service projects begin with great intention and fizzle out fast. If the project is a class project, students may feel pressured to participate because everyone else is. The joy comes when we see the project connect directly with those in need. We may be stretching ourselves outside our own comfort level, but when we are intentional to form relationships with the greatest among us, we are more likely to be impacted long term.
PRACTICING HUMILITY. What we most often take for granted - electricity, healthy and plentiful meals, hot water for bathing, or a warm blanket on a cold night - are not available to all. Most of us are a job loss, a serious illness, or unexpected event (think of recent hurricane victims who lost everything and have no insurance) from not being able to enjoy a hot meal, a hot bath, or a place to rest our head at night. Humility, when intentionally practiced, becomes second nature and a Christ–like quality.
KINGDOM MINDED. The Bible is full of illustrations that encourage us to share the Gospel with others. Whether it’s to unbelievers or people of other faiths and beliefs, as Christians it is our responsibility to joyfully advance the kingdom of God. People need to know about Christ and what He’s done in your life. There is someone at work, school, church, the grocery store, or our favorite restaurant who doesn’t know Christ. If we humble ourselves and can be kind, patient, loving, and honest and preach the truth, most people will want to know more.
COMPOUNDING BLESSINGS. When talking with Mr. Bell from Project Hope, he radiated joy to see students and teachers eager to do the grunt work of loading, unloading, and stocking pantries so that he and the volunteers serving at The Hope House, could in turn bless those with the greatest of needs. When asked if this was a project that we could continue to build on, he was quick to say, “YES! We can all work together to raise HOPE in Rock Hill!”
In the book of Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus paints a picture of serving:
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
We love Him because He loved us first. Likewise, we serve because He came to serve others so humbly. As we look for more ways to connect our age and grade appropriate curriculum to opportunities within our community, we can build relationships, develop empathy, and prayerfully, we will educate students to bless our world as disciples of Jesus Christ.
As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, there are many great needs in our community that have been identified from soup kitchens and food pantries to the need of new or gently used board games, new blankets and pillows for warming shelters, and personal hygiene items used for children removed from homes and placed in the care of foster homes. What a wonderful way to spend quality family time than being the hands and feet of Jesus.
If you’d like ideas for you and your family to serve, please contact Karla Jollie at email@example.com or by phone at 803.328.5451. You may also reach out to Caroline Forster at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 803.328.8176. We know you’ll be richly blessed by serving those with the greatest need.