How-To: Plan a Day of Service

This post is all about planning a day of service in your community.

You know the impact that missions trips have on your teenagers. A great way to help teenagers continue that passion for helping others is to lead a day of service right at home! After 25+ years of serving at YouthWorks, we want to share with you our best tips and tricks for planning out a service day or week. 

Day of Service

Where should you start?

Plan to begin preparing for your day of service at least three weeks in advance. The main areas to focus on are:

  • Recruiting: Who are you gathering together to serve? Make sure to have a good mix of younger and older teenagers as well as adults. Then, get out there and advertise your service opportunity!
  • Service: Connect with local partners to see what needs and opportunities your group could support. Keep in mind that some projects may require specific supplies and skills. You want to make sure your group has the ability to support both respectfully and effectively. Need help finding local service opportunities? Check out our blog post on service project ideas HERE>>>>
  • Transportation: Think through how you will get to and from service sites as a group. If adult volunteers are able to drive, then several smaller vehicles may be a better option rather than a large bus.
  • Gathering Space: Choose a central location to meet before and after the service day. You’ll want to make time to gather, review expectations for the day and debrief the service experience.

What’s on the day of service schedule?

A quality service experience includes a good balance of hands on or relational partnership out in the community and time to connect with one another as a group. In the past, YouthWorks has used the schedule below when planning a service day for churches and schools. 

8:00-8:20 AM Adult Leader Meeting: Briefly meet with adult volunteers to go over logistics and talk through any hopes or concerns they may have for the day. It may also be helpful to create an information packet for each adult including Service Partner contacts, directions to the service site and emergency phone numbers. 

8:20-8:30 AM Check-In: Greet teenagers at a check-in table as they arrive. During this time, you’ll let teenagers know where they’ll be serving during the day. Make sure everyone fills out a nametag as well so that partners know who you are. 

8:30-9:30 AM Morning Programming: Before heading out for service, take some time to set teenagers and adult up well for the day. Vision cast the importance of your group respectfully serving the community and how teenagers can be looking to see God in others. You may want to include a brief devotion or worship to set the a Christ-centered tone as well.

Additionally, lead a brief orientation for the group to go over any safety and Service Partner expectations. 

9:30 AM-3:30 PM Service Day: Serve in your community! Connect with Service Partners ahead of time to see what time and location works best for your group to take a break for lunch. The lunch break is also a great time in the day for adults to connect with teenagers how they’re seeing God at work while serving. 

3:30-4:30 PM Afternoon Processing Time: Following the service day, gather back together to debrief the experience. This time can be led in a large group or small groups. Give students the opportunity to share how God was at work within the community and each other. Wrap up the day by thanking your volunteers and celebrating or worshipping God together. 

Looking for sample debriefing questions? Check out the Day of Service Guidebook for specific group questions and ideas. 

How can you take your day of service to the next level?

Interested in adding a little more depth to the schedule? Consider adding in some extra elements such as: 

  • A pre-service and post-service devotional processing guide
  • A message and worship time
  • Simple meals outside of a bag lunch from home
  • Devotional journals
  • A community speaker or fun, recreational, educational activity in the evening
  • A community cookout where you can invite the people that you served to a local park or your meeting space for a free meal and fellowship
  •  Foot washing experience

Need more support? YouthWorks is here to help!

Planning quality service experiences takes additional time and work. YouthWorks wants to help you make this process as easy as possible with even more resources at your fingertips. 

DOWNLOAD the Day of Service Guidebook: Your step-by-step guide to planning service from start to finish. 

Sign up for a SERVE AT HOME experience: Let YouthWorks plan your entire service experience for you!   

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