Service Projects for Families: 6 Things to Help You Plan

Planning service projects for families? You’re in the right spot.

Service projects for families can be a key way that your ministry can support discipleship from a family-first perspective. Afterall, getting a family to own their faith, to communicate about it, and to lean into each other, is one of the best ways to help faith stick. But the logistics of coordinating family service projects can be tough. That’s why we wanted to help.

It’s been our mission since 1994 to help mobilize students and groups to serve on Christ-centered mission trips. Over the years, we’ve been able to learn some key lessons that can be applied to any ministry looking to rally groups to serve locally, regionally, or beyond. And this year, more than ever, church leaders are looking for help to imagine service differently.

This post curates some of the resources and key lessons we’ve had over the years that will help you plan service projects for families in your ministry.

If you want to dig into the resources right away, these links will get you there:

Ready to keep reading? Let’s go…

planning family mission trips

How do you start planning service projects for families?

You have to create and cast the vision for service projects for families.

Before you get into any details, you have to start with your vision for how service projects for families fit into the broader scope of missions and discipleship in your ministry.

If you’re passionate about seeing families serve together, then make it a central part of your vision. Install a team of intergenerational stakeholders that include ministry leaders from across the church and empower them to make service a key aspect of what they do.

Cast the vision and get as many stakeholders on board as possible. Once the idea of service projects for families becomes a shared passion with your team, you’ll start to see momentum build.

Here are some key questions that might help you imagine service projects for families within your vision for discipleship:

  • How do service projects for families help fulfill the broader church vision for missions and discipleship?
  • Which ministries need to be represented in the planning process for service projects for families?
  • Which ministry leaders should be stakeholders in the logistics and details?
  • How can build service projects for families into the list of key events for your church throughout the year?
  • How might service projects for families help prepare someone for other mission experiences?

Also, any service projects for families (or anyone else in your ministry) should be facilitated through a healthy missiological perspective centering around the needs of a community and keeps our savior complex in check. If you don’t have When Helping Hurts on your bookshelf, we highly recommend it, and we’d love to talk with you about it.

family mission trip service partners

How do I find local service partners?

Start with the relationships your church already has.

This is a great opportunity to focus on the resources and connections that you have within reach of your ministry. There might already be a handful of local organizations that your church supports. Maybe there is a food shelf, thrift store, or a crisis resource center that your church already has a relationship with.

If you’re not finding an option, or if you want to build new relationships, we highly recommend using volunteer databases to find service projects for families. You can centralize your search around locations and utilize varying filters to narrow in on what works for your group. Here’s a quick list:

Regardless of which partner you choose for your service projects for families, think about it as the introduction to a long-term relationship. That will help your families see the compounding impact as you continue to plan future service projects.

family mission trip service projects

What types of service projects should I include for families?

When you’re planning service projects for families, be sure to include opportunities for every age and ability that you expect to join you.

It would be helpful to start with an age range for the service project. Some churches go as young as 4 years old, but you might want to set different criteria. You’ll also want to be sure to think through any people who might have varying abilities.

This is where your service partner can help narrow down the service projects specific to your families. But here are some quick service project ideas that work for most ages and abilities:

  • Work with food and clothing banks for sorting donations.
  • Embrace relational ministry with nursing homes, sports camps, or VBS.
  • Dig into community beautification projects.

As people start to register for your service project for families, you might start to see different ages or varying abilities than you anticipated. If you do, be sure to run an accessibility check to make sure everything still works with the folks who registered. That might include:

  • Reviewing wheelchair accessibility for all areas and restrooms
  • Service projects that don’t require heavy labor
  • Relational ministry opportunities where the youngest children can still play a role
family mission trip preparation

How do I prepare my families for their service projects?  

Like any mission trip or service experience, running successful service projects for families requires setting the right expectations.Your local service partners can be a huge asset with this. They most likely have documentation for volunteers that help them know how to plan and what they’ll be doing on site. We also recommend creating a Service Orientation document that you’ll be able to use as a reference when answering questions from parents, volunteers, or kids getting ready to serve.

A Service Orientation document for service projects for families might include answers to key questions, like:

  • What is the service partner we’ll be supporting and how will we be helping?
  • Is there a schedule?
  • What role will our group fulfill during the service project?
  • Are there any elements of the service project that might be difficult for our families?
  • Is there any helpful information that we’d need to know before we arrive?
  • Should we dress in a specific way or bring anything with us?

Also, we don’t want you to have to reinvent the wheel with your service project for families. We included a Service Orientation outline with the bundle of resources in the Day(s) of Service Planning Guide HERE >>

family mission trip experience

How do I make the most of the experience for families?

1) Schedule time for building relationships.

Families need time to connect throughout the day. As you’re planning the schedule for your service projects for families, build in some intentional time where they can engage with each other, play, and experience things together. Those moments will help solidify the service project for their family as a prime opportunity to grow with each other.

2) Don’t waste the momentum.

Your service project for families is a big event but be sure to focus some planning energy to all the ways you can help connect that experience to the days and weeks to come. That will help the service project for families be a launching pad for growth and something even better in the future.

Here are some quick ideas:

  • Hold a church-wide celebration. Invite the entire congregation to hear from the families who served and from your service partner. It’s a great time to recast the vision for your service projects for families and share about an ongoing relationship you’re fostering with your service partner.
  • Create family devotions. You could create a short devotional series to help your families continue to process the impact of the service project.
  • Invite your local service partner back to share updates. Find ways to bring your local service partners back to your church so that families can see what has changed since your last service project for families, if there are any new needs of the community, and how they can help.
family mission trips

How can YouthWorks help with my service project for families?

We love helping mobilize families to serve together. If you need help with the details or logistics of your service projects for families, we’ve gathered a few resources that could make your life a bit easier:

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