What comes to mind when you think about mission trips? The expense can often be a barrier for students and their families. Serving locally gives students the opportunity to engage in missions without the expense of other domestic and international missions experiences.
Your Own Congregation
Look within the walls of your own church. It is very likely that there are widows and widowers who have needs in their homes that students can help meet. There are also likely homebound members of your church that would love to have visitors. These are great ways for students to serve those in need right in your own congregation and within your own community. A way to learn about these needs is to speak to the senior adult minister in your church or visit some senior adult Sunday School classes and talk to them. Find out what they need and let them know that you are willing to help.
Partner With Existing Organizations
A quick Google search of your city or county will reveal dozens of already existing ministries and local organizations that you can partner with. You could also contact your local denominational association or network of churches. Pick up the phone and call these groups and let them know of your desire to serve. There is no doubt that they will put you to work. Opportunities like these are plentiful. Look for places like:
- Homeless ministries
- Food pantries
- Community gardens
- Habitat for Humanity
- Nursing homes
Reach Kids, Reach Families
- Backyard Bible clubs, sports camps, and Vacation Bible School experiences for children near your church or in your community are amazing outreach and evangelism opportunities.
- Partner with local schools to put together backpacks of school supplies or to pack meals for kids who don’t have access to meals over the weekend or breaks.
- Adopting a local school is a great way to show a community that you love them and want to serve them in Jesus’ name. There are lots of possibilities for how to serve schools in your community through local missions.
Don’t be a graveyard of good intentions when it comes to local missions—don’t make plans and promises to serve that you don’t intend to or have the capacity to keep. When you make a commitment to partner with a local ministry or organization, follow through. Showing up on time, doing good work, loving people, and building relationships will open doors to share the gospel. This will not only enrich the lives of those you are seeking to serve, but also nourish your own heart and the hearts of your students. And ultimately, when we serve others, we are serving the Lord Himself. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”