What Do I Do with These Children?

Erin Davis

Erin Davis | 06.24.11
Twitter: @ErinGraffiti


I’ve noticed a strange look on the faces of my friends with school-aged kids lately. It’s a look I see about the end of May every year. It’s one part delight and two parts panic, and I think I know the source—school’s out for summer! For many moms, that means having all of their children home all of the time.

Many families I know take the summer fun approach. They fill their days with trips to the pool, excursions to the lake, and movies in the afternoon. I’m all for fun summers. I love to take my boys swimming, cool off with red popsicles, and stay up late enough to catch lightning bugs in old mason jars.

But, I think summer also offers a unique opportunity to do ministry together as a family. A whole lot of free time offers a whole lot of opportunities to reach out to others and minister side by side. If your kids can get a taste of the value of serving like Jesus did, they’ll be learning an important lesson.

So, here’s a starter list of family summer ministry ideas:

Help with Vacation Bible School
Many churches host VBS during the summer. Instead of just sending your kids off to attend, grab your pre pre-teens and teens and get involved yourself with serving. If your church doesn’t have a VBS, look for ways to serve in another church, or launch a one-day VBS for a few kids in your neighborhood.

Plan a local short-term missions trip
You don’t have to be a missionary to take a missions trip. Simply think of a group of people who have a need, and find a way to meet that need while sharing the love of Jesus. You can go for a day, a weekend, or a week. Here are a few missions trips my family have done:

  • Clean up a playground in a low-income housing area, and then offer a free hot meal to the residents (hot dogs and chips work great!).
  • Find an area of your state that has been impacted by a natural disaster, and get plugged in with a relief organization such as the Red Cross or Samaritan’s Purse. 
  • Ask your pastor for a list of widows or shut-ins, and call and offer to do lawn work for free during the hottest days of summer.
  • Call that same list of widows and shut-ins and offer to bring them fresh produce from your garden. They likely don’t have the oomph to garden themselves, but would love to share in the bounty of your back yard.
  • Call your local pregnancy care center and offer to come and sort supplies for moms in need. 

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless!  

Serve lemonade
Encourage your children to set up a lemonade stand to raise funds for people in need. Even young children will enjoy creating and decorating a lemonade stand, making lemonade and treats, and collecting money from “customers.” (I would recommend calling friends and neighbors and encouraging them to stop by). Then, give your child a few options of organizations and let them go with you to deliver their hard-earned money.

Adopt a family
Not every momma gets to stay at home with her kids in the summer. This can be especially true for single moms. That means some kids are left to fend for themselves while their parents work. If you know a family in this situation, offer to take the kids during the day for the summer, and be sure to specify that you don’t expect any payment in return. Will it be a sacrifice? You betcha! But God’s Word urges us to look after each other in practical ways like this. Be intentional about looking for a family that you can help by being generous with your time.

Chalk up some blessings
Grab the sidewalk chalk and hop in the car to visit people in need of an extra boost. Write an encouraging message in chalk on their sidewalk or front stoop, or write out a verse that is applicable or encouraging. Taking the time to give an encouraging word can go a long way . . . doing so in bright colored chalk is even better!

Summers provide a unique opportunity for families who have the time and flexibility to break free from routine. Using that window to serve others in Jesus’ name is one of the  best uses of your family’s time. Any other ideas? How can your family minister together this summer?


  1. Nice, Erin. When my children were growing up, we enjoyed inviting elderly neighbors over for supper and a visit from time to time.
    Your post makes me think of James 1:26 & 27, "Pure religion before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." And verse 26 speaks of holding your tongue if you are "religious."
    posted by April
    on Friday, June 24, 2011 at 7:43 am
  2. I love the chalk message idea...how fun would that be to stay up late and do it as an after dark adventure! Just check the forecast for overnight rain =)
    posted by Tracy
    on Friday, June 24, 2011 at 8:26 am
  3. I, too, love the chalk message idea ....maybe even put some on the church parking lot...a difference verse for each parking spot. : )
    posted by Susan McCurdy
    on Friday, June 24, 2011 at 11:38 am
  4. Love the chalk message concept ... my head is spinning with ways to use that! Off to Wal-Mart to buy some chalk to use with my granddaughters!

    Grandmoms, summer is a wonderful time to give your grown/married children a break. I'm planning another "Grammy Camp" in my living room (sheets and blankets making a huge tent). My Kiddles say the things they remember most about the last one is making microwave s'mores and that their Grammy prayed for their "someday husbands" to love Jesus. Such fun, and a great opportunity for creating that spiritual legacy ~ so important!
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Friday, June 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm
  5. Like the rest of the comments...LOVE the chalk idea! This is a must this summer!!
    posted by Heather Patenaude
    on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 10:34 am
  6. Many years ago, my boys(they were about 8 & 4 ) and I volunteered once a week at a local nursing home (just for the summer). My 8 year old brought and played his keyboard and some days we helped with craft time.

    It was a little awkward for us, but I felt the Lord encouraging us to do it...so we did!
    posted by Stephanie
    on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm
  7. thanks, my three grandsons are coming for three days/nights and I like to plan a theme using a Bible verse for the 3 days, its amazing how God works things in to illustrate His word. We already have the chalk.
    posted by patricia
    on Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 3:46 am
  8. Volunteering with the Meals on Wheels Program one day a week is a nice way to share some ministry time with your children to a nearby community of people who are unable to fix meals for themselves.

    My boys can remember all kinds of stories the "seniors" expounded on...wars from long ago, when the train used to go up into the "hollers", factory work, depression years, when the nearby dam was built, etc...stories that they didn't get to hear from their own grandparents because we lived too far away from them.

    The boys gained an appreciation for meeting a great need, while learning valuable history of our local culture, and the struggles of a time during hardships.
    posted by Jeannie R.
    on Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 7:49 am

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