4 practical, non-contact ways to involve children in service to others

April 21, 2020

“I’m so thankful I gave birth to our son where I did,” is something I’ve frequently said to my husband during our past few weeks in quarantine. I’m currently eight months pregnant with our third child, and the fear of giving birth to our baby girl in a hospital that currently has COVID-19 patients could potentially be gripping. It is not, though, because God prepared me for this moment by allowing me to give birth to our son, Monty, while my husband and I were IMB missionaries in Africa. We were challenged then in ways that have equipped me for this season, so I have been able to focus on serving others instead of fear, and have had my children lend a helping hand. 

This servant mindset can be lost in the fog of a global pandemic. But Paul’s appeal is still true: 

“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. That by testing you may discern the will of God, what is good, and acceptable, and perfect” (Rom.12:1-2). 

When my “living sacrifice” wants to crawl off the altar with fear and anxiety, I remember that our very bodies are a temple, and every act we complete is a potential act of worship to God. I also remember that God has given us all gifts to use to serve others (1 Pet. 4:10). That includes our children, as well. Perhaps one of the four ideas below will show you or your children the gift that God has given you to use during quarantine. 

The call to make disciples does not stop during times of quarantine. Perhaps God is giving us this opportunity to show us that our primary disciples are our children.

  1. Prayer: As your child’s primary disciplemaker, giving them the opportunity to pray is both important and a privilege. They have heard you pray, so when given the chance to come before the throne of our Sovereign God, they will surprise you with what they say. During our own family devotions, my 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son often ask if they can pray. They praise God by thanking him for all that he’s given them (food, toys, etc.), but they have also been asking him to help the elderly, stop the coronavirus, and reveal himself to people who do not know him. Each and every time my husband and I hear the voices of our children cry out for the nations, it brings us hope and helps us put more trust in the One who saved us.
  2. Artwork: Children enjoy the opportunity to be creative. They like to color, draw, and paint. Coupled with the craving for structure during these times, why not have a daily time for your child to create art, and then mail some of the artwork to the elderly, medically vulnerable, or lonely in your life? Check with your local church to see if they a list of members or attenders who might fall into these categories. Tell your children that they are making artwork for people who cannot leave their homes and that their art will give them happiness and hope. You could also include a note of encouragement and a verse of Scripture. 
  3. Cooking: Inevitably, we are all cooking more while at home, which is a great time to involve your children in the process. You will be providing them with a life skill and possibly another opportunity to serve others. There are probably plenty of people within your church or your neighborhood that would enjoy a meal or a special baked good that they didn’t have to make. These could be safely cooked and delivered by your family. Cook or bake with your children while taking extra sanitary precautions, let the person know you are coming, and safely deliver the food by leaving it on their front porch or doorstep. Allow your children to accompany you on the ride so that they are able to wave as you drop off the meal. A piece of your children’s artwork accompanying it would likely help lift the spirits of the person you are serving—and the opportunity to get out for a drive with the purpose of serving others will lift yours, too. 
  4. Phone calls: During this time of social isolation, some people haven’t seen another person face to face in quite a while. And others are not able to virtually connect for various reasons. This time of quarantine is perfect for picking up the phone (or Facetime, if able) and reaching out to your neighbors, friends, and family members. Your local church probably has a list of isolated or vulnerable people in your congregation that could use an extra phone call, too. During your time on the phone, you can ask questions, bring a word of encouragement, read a psalm, and allow your children to pray for the person. 

The call to make disciples does not stop during times of quarantine. Perhaps God is giving us this opportunity to show us that our primary disciples are our children. Let us give our children memories of family service during COVID-19 rather than ones of fear. As Paul reminds us, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13) We do not want to be the same once this pandemic is over, and we pray that our children learn what an unshakable faith looks like during this time.