The Kind of Service Matters
When it comes to families serving together, some service is better than others.
Through her research summarized in Inside Out Families: Living the Faith Together, Diana Garland relays that certain factors stood out as contributing to greater growth in faith—both of families and individuals. Here are a few of those factors: ((Summarizing from Diana Garland, Inside Out Families: Living the Faith Together (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010), 43ff and 125ff.))
1. Serving among those who are different from us in culture and life experience. This stretches our understanding, empathy, and compassion. In other words, get beyond your church walls!
2. One-time service impacts faith way less than building long-term relationships as we serve.
3. Serving that places us into situations that are beyond us, where we have to depend on God’s help and provision.
4. And, not surprisingly in light of our Deep Justice Journeys research, both preparing beforehand and taking time to debrief and reflect on experiences afterward as a family are important to faith growth.
As you consider opportunities for families of students in your ministry (or your own family) to serve and seek justice, this short list can be a helpful evaluative tool.