God LOVES People: Devotion and Activity
St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many parts of the world on February 14. It’s a time when we speak of love, romance, and kindness. All around the world, children will present valentine’s cards to classmates, teenagers will anticipate a love note from someone special, and husbands will present roses and candies to their wives. For those of us who serve kids, Valentine’s Day offers us a wonderful opportunity to not only talk with our kids about God’s love but also to encourage our children to show His love to others.
Talk About It
Do: Provide children with a heart-shaped cutout. Give them three minutes to write on their heart all the things that they “love.” Provide examples such as favorite video games, favorite foods, television shows, or activities like shopping or going to the movies.
After three minutes, allow the children to share their lists.
Discuss: Talk to the kids about the word “love.” Our societies use the word love to describe a lot of things, especially around Valentine’s Day. However, to truly understand what love is, we have to look at God’s word. God’s Word reveals what He loves the most and how we can reflect His heart.
Additional Video Resources
Consider using one of the following video resources as you share:
Share God’s Word
Discuss: Discuss some of the following passages of scripture. Ask the kids what the scripture says about God’s love:
- “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
- “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
- “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).
- “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God” (1 John 1:4-7).
- “Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).
Explain: These scriptures tell us that God loves people more than anything. They are at the top, bottom, and in-between on his list of “loves.” If we are to reflect His heart, we will love people and show kindness to them. While it is wonderful to enjoy things like cartoons, social media, or pizza, our greatest love should be God. As our love for Him grows, our love for the people around us and in the world will grow too.
Do: Invite the children to turn over their heart-shaped list. Provide three additional minutes for them to list the names of people that they can show love and kindness to. At the conclusion of three minutes, pray with the children about their list. Challenge them to select one person on the list to show kindness to.
What better way to teach kids about God’s love then to give them the opportunity to serve others? Below are a few ideas for mobilizing your kids to serve:
Caring Coupon Book—Provide children with supplies, such as paper, pencils, scissors, stapler, and markers to create a coupon book of chores that they are able or willing to do for their family. Have the children staple the coupons together in a booklet. The children can present their coupon book to their parents/guardian, redeemable at any time. Requests might include: take out the garbage, give the dog a bath, a five-minute massage for the parent, fold the laundry, etc.
The Serving Jar—Similar to the coupon book is “The Serving Jar;” however the serving jar adds an element of spontaneity to service. Provide each child with a small jar along with ten slips of blank paper. Have the children write simple tasks on each slip of paper, fold the paper, and place it in the jar. The children should take one slip of paper from the jar and perform the task for their family. Encourage kids to draw their slip at the start of each morning so that they have the entire day to complete the task whenever is appropriate. Download a sample here. Let the children develop their own unique tasks or offer any of the following:
- Write a kind note to someone in your family.
- Play a game with your brother/sister and they choose the game.
- Pray for each member of your family.
- Make someone else’s bed.
- Empty all the trash cans throughout the house.
- Dust the living room.
- Sweep/vacuum the floors.
- Wash the dishes.
- Read a book to a younger sibling.
My Prayer List—Provide a “My Prayer List” worksheet for the children. Ask them to list family members they can pray for. Encourage them to pray for each person on their list and then write a note of encourage to one or more of the people they prayed for. Download sample here.
Care Kits for the Needy—Contact a local homeless shelter and inquire about offering personal care items for those being served. Create lists for items and encourage each child to donate the requested items for the packets. Items for each kit might include: a small Bible, combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, small packs of gum, soft snack bars or packages of cracker sandwiches, deodorants, plastic bandages, packages of tissues, and antiseptic wipes.
Gather the children to pack the kits and pray for those who will receive them. Give kids several index cards and have them write or draw encouraging messages to put in each bag.
Variations: Consider providing care kits for others in your community such as nursing homes or local jails/prison ministries. You might also consider providing “thank you” baskets with goodies for emergency first responders such as police and firefighters.
Nursing Home Storytime—Coordinate with your local nursing home to bring the children in to read with the elderly residents. Schedule a convenient time of day for the children to arrive. Each child should bring 1 to 2 children’s books that they are able to read. Encourage the children to not only read the story but also point out images from the book that they like the most.
Additional ideas to serve the community include:
- Organize a drive to collect canned and boxed goods in a food pantry.
- With permission, paint over graffiti in your community.
- Organize a clothing or coat drive for a local homeless shelter.
- Help prepare and serve the food at a soup kitchen or hospice.
- Visit and serve people in an elderly community.
- Plant trees and shrubs at a location in dire need of environmental care.
- Clean up a local park.
- Do yard work for someone who is sick, disabled, or elderly.
- Visit patients in a nursing home or hospital.
Day of Caring—Contact elderly members of your church asking if they have chores that need to be accomplished around their home. This might include general yard work, organization of a garage, painting, or light maintenance around their home. Enlist the children of your church, preferably with their families, to come together. vArrange the participants into teams with a capable team captain. Send them to the homes you wish to serve. Make sure they have the necessary equipment (lawnmowers, paintbrushes, garbage bags), as well as any safety equipment (goggles, gloves, etc.) to accomplish the job. A waiver form may be downloaded here for children who are participating without the oversight of a parent/guardian.
Picnic for the Pastor—Enlist the help of your children to coordinate a “Picnic for the Pastor.” With the help of an adult, the children can help prepare special food items (perhaps the favorites of your pastor), set a picnic table, hang decorations, and decorate cards/notes for the pastor. The children should then be invited to join the pastor for the picnic where they will present their cards/notes.
- Do yard work or general cleanup of the church facility, providing everything from weed pulling to vacuuming.
- Have older children create a special event for the younger children. With some adult help, they can plan, organize, and implement a special time for the younger members of the congregation.
- Homeless shelters provide an opportunity for parents and church children ministers, to involve children in serving. There are different capacities of feeding the less fortunate, in which, children can volunteer their time and effort.
- There are organizations that will allow you to collect and to help assembly necessities for homeless living on the streets. They will also allow your group to go out on the streets to distribute these bags.
- Food banks allow opportunity for children to come and help fill boxes of food to be handed out to needy families or help pack boxes to be loaded on trucks going to areas where natural disasters have occurred. Your children can always start a food drive at your local church to collect food and donate to the food bank, as well.
- Habitat for Humanity is another outlet that children can volunteer their efforts in several different capacities. Check with your local Habitat for Humanity office to find out what opportunities are available for your children’s ministry group.
- Children learn best from their peers. Check with your local schools to see if they have a peer study group or help lab for children to lend their knowledge to their fellow classmates.
- There are usually services that collect clothing several times through the year (around the changing seasons). Have children start a clothing drive to collect clothes to donate. Global Missions Ministries at the International Offices also collects clothing items for the Mission Clothes Closet at the International Assembly. These items are given to ministers, overseers, and their families serving the church abroad.