Every day I get calls from the most generous people asking how they can serve their local community, whether that is through volunteering their time, donating their possessions, or helping with their hard-earned money. I get to have these awesome conversations as part of my job as a fundraiser in the non-profit field, where I focus on human and social services. It makes my heart so happy when I hear people wanting to make a difference.
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Are you seeking to give back to your community but don’t know where to start? Christians who desire to serve their community will find that there are a lot of opportunities all around them. To serve God is to serve others and is one of the greatest demonstrations we can make of Christ-like love. Loving people through serving them was what Jesus Christ did throughout His earthly ministry. When we serve others and think of others first, everybody wins!
What Does the Bible Say About Serving One Another
Before we dive into ways to serve, I would like to turn to the Word of God to see what it says about serving one another. When Jesus speaks about serving, we should listen to Him. He is the very God of the universe who came in the form of Man to serve all humanity.
Jesus is humility and servanthood in human form. He humbled himself, served the people who did not have their lives together, the reckless, the lost, the wretched, the poor, the hated, the people with awfully messy lives – He loved them all, and in fact, preferred to spend with them over the super “churchy” people. Jesus served in an ultimate way by giving His life on the cross so that we may all be restored into a relationship with the Father.
In response, every member of the body of Christ (the church) is called to serve. Here are some top Bible Verses about serving others:
1 Peter 4:10: Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.
James 2:15-17: If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.
Galatians 6:10: Therefore, as we have the opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.
John 13:34: “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.”
Matthew 25:35: For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in
Romans 12:13-17: Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.
Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Read more about the importance of community.
When We Serve Others We Serve God
Jesus had all the glory of the Father in heaven yet emptied Himself of His glory and took on the form of a servant. Just like most of Jesus’ teachings that go against the world’s natural inclinations, Jesus’ teaches us that to be first we must put ourselves last. We must serve Christ first and through serving Him we cultivate a desire to want to serve others.
We don’t do so grudgingly or expecting anything in return, but rather we serve in love and with a cheerful heart (Galatians 5:13),. Most importantly, whatever we are doing we must do it for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23-24). When we are serving others we are really serving Christ.
The good news is that there are a plethora of opportunities to serve your community. Here are 7 suggestions for ways to serve God through serving others:
Simple Acts of Kindness
Looking for a way to brighten someone’s day? Any act of kindness no matter how big or small can make a difference – especially when done intentionally. Here are simple acts of kindness to put a smile on anyone’s face.
- Let someone go ahead of you in line.
- Take care of someone’s pet while they are away.
- Buy a coffee for a stranger.
- Water a neighbor’s lawn/flowers.
- Wash someone’s car.
- Do a chore for someone without them knowing.
- Surprise a new neighbor with freshly baked goods or treats.
- Hold the door open for someone else.
- Help an elderly person carry their groceries.
- Call or text a friend or family member to let them know you are grateful for them.
- Smile at everybody. It’s contagious.
Give Tithes and Offering
One way we can serve God is by helping his children, our brothers and sisters, by giving tithes and offerings. Money from tithing is used to build God’s kingdom and serve those who are in need in the church as well as the local community. If your church is up on its technology game, you can even set up an automated monthly online donation.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7: The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Yet, we must do it with the right heart, one that does not seek to put our faithfulness on display. God recognizes more than we do how our faith is revealed in our habit of giving. Contributing to God’s work is a great way to serve God.
Volunteer in the Community
There are countless ways to serve God and others by volunteering in the community.
Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes and the local community. But the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer, giving you a sense of purpose.
Volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness. Some places you can volunteer in the community include:
- Local Non-profits
- Animal Rescue Shelters
- Food Pantries
- Habitat for Humanity
- Local Libraries
- Local 5k or event
- Retirement Homes
- American Red Cross
Bring Meals to People In Your Church
Whether or not cooking is your specialty, everyone loves a good meal. Offer to sign up to bring a meal to a new mom or someone who has just gone through surgery. Drop off a prepared frozen meal, a take-out meal, or home-cooked meal for the family (tip: beforehand check their preferences and if they have any food allergies).
There is no greater gift than helping feed those in your local community. Food banks are always looking for volunteers to help sort the food they receive from the local community. Or neighborhood firefighters would always appreciate a few pizzas delivered during the night shift.
Donate Clothing or Other Goods
Anyone else watch the new Marie Kondo Netflix Show and clean out their closet(s)? I sure did and got rid of a lot of stuff. I donated my clothes to a local thrift shop that benefits the organization I work for.
I am sure we all have stuff that we haven’t worn for years and promise that once we find it we will wear it again but we don’t. Decluttering and donating your clothes or other goods is a win-win for your closet and pantry clutter and helps others who are in needs. That said, please make you are giving clothes in good shape and of good quality and your canned goods are not past their expiration dates. You aren’t helping anyone by passing down old ratty clothes or old canned goods just to get them out of your house.
Help A Friend In Need
More likely than not, right now, a friend you know is in need. Someone is going through the hardest thing they have had to endure, and they need your help to come out on the other side of it. What you may need to hear is how to be a friend to a person in need. It can be scary or awkward to approach someone is going through something difficult. What do you say? How do you act?
Think of a few ways you know you can assist that friend and do them. Deliver a bottle of wine and fresh flowers to their door. Provide a meal. Just sit with your friend and listen to them or just sit in silence knowing that they just need someone there. Take their kid(s) for a playdate. Mail a handwritten note expressing your love and support (liking or commenting on a post on social media doesn’t cut it). It doesn’t matter how big or small the gesture, what matters is that you have made a conscious decision to alleviate some pressure from your friend’s life.
Erin, from Lullaby Lark, has a real-life example of the power of helping a friend in need.
Share Your Talents
Our gifts or talents are purposefully created not just for ourselves but to help those around us. From electricians to retired teachers to accountants to musicians…each of us has been given talents by God that we should develop and use to serve God and others. We were created to share these gifts with others.
Pray and seek God. He has plans for your life, and you need to find out what He wants you to do. Examine your life and see what talents you have to offer free of charge. Look for ways to use your talents inside and outside the church. Most importantly, be thankful for the gifts and talents He has given you.
I hope and pray that we can all humble our hearts and serve each other and those around us. Comment below because I would love to know some ways you enjoy serving your local community.