20 March 2012 ~ 3 Comments

Do I get service hours for that?

In our community and parish there is a strong ethic of service.  Mission trips are very well attended in our adult, youth, and children’s ministries.  Our kids are highly motivated to earn their service hours for honors clubs or graduation recognition through school.  This is a community and church that loves to serve.

Sticky faith points our that families that serve together create a “sticky faith” or “sticky justice” (justice, by the way, is a good way of saying “a service project with a good outcome for the whole system” [my definition]).   When a whole family serves together, there is a whole new shared experience and shared license to participate.

IMO, the best part of this chapter is when they talked about thinking about the three phases of service; before, during, and after.  This is the way we think about youth mission trips at Saint Michaels.  There was a time when leaders would literally have to introduce themselves to the kids on the trip at the airport (okay, that occasionally still happens).  Now we ask kids to come to preparation meetings when we work on “framing” the trip and experience they are about to have.

After the trip (the part we need to do better at executing), we need to provide opportunities for reflection and continued relationship with those that shared the experience of the trip. On the trip itself, I always consider it a good sign when the kids are tired of meeting.  We always have a lot of logistical things to go over on a trip, but we also spend a lot of time in theological reflection; processing what we experienced and saw that day and looking at it through the lens of the Gospel.  If they are complaining that we’re talking too much, we are on the right path.

We can and do all kinds of service projects and trips, but no matter how well we plan before and after events, there’s no way a church program can deliver the same processing and discussion opportunities that a family who experienced service together can.  Families have so many more opportunities for small teaching moments and chances to contextualize.

Final thought; what if we saw each day as a mission trip?  Each day had a preparation period, a ministry period, and a follow up processing period.  That would be sticky.

3 Responses to “Do I get service hours for that?”

  1. Noralyn 24 March 2012 at 3:37 am Permalink

    I think the title of this week’s blog is provacative…”Do I get service hours for that?” It is a consumer culture, what can “I” get? We know from our mission and ministry that we get much more than “hours.” I agree with Andy that the chapter piece on framing and following-up on mission is critical to making mission “stick.” I am reminded about a comment Dabney Dwyer, dioceasan minister asked once. “Why do I do mission as a Christian? Anyone can do mission and “do good”. What does make mission a Christian event? I believe part of the answer comes in the framing of the activity. Preparing for mission by reading the Bible, “being present” for people as a Christian in the acts of mission, and then reflecting on ourselves as Christians. Taking the time for reflection also may be counter-cultural, but then so can being a believer. Reflecting on our place in the lives of others as Christians will bring help “stick” the faith.

  2. Christi 25 March 2012 at 4:33 pm Permalink

    What if we saw each day as a mission trip. I LOVE that! And, as parents, we need to model service in addition to providing our kids with meaningful service experiences and reflection discussions.

  3. Christina 28 March 2012 at 4:11 am Permalink

    Each day as a mission trip. I agree with you Christi that is so powerful. When I first came to SMAA I did not understand service hours. Why did people have forms? Why did they not just do it anyway? Then my daughter this year got inducted into the Junior National Honor Society. Yes she now NEEDS hours. I despise and I guess sort of understand this practice of expectation. Seriously I hope and pray she will continue to care for others anyway and along with getting the silly form signed (more of a pain to remember the form if you ask me).
    I feel as a family Jason, the kids, and I need to pick a cause and support it as a mission that we can be involved in frequently. We show up at the ones that are planned by others at the church, but we have not found our own outside of SMAA to support. I am ready. I look forward to brainstorming as a family. This book has created many talking points in our family.


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