17 Creative Ways to Give on a Budget

As I mentioned in my last couple of posts, this summer the Sunset youth group worked through the book I Like Giving by Brad Formsma.  Each week I had the teens write down creative ways to give, and I was constantly amazed by the ideas they came up with.

There were several ideas that overlapped, and I found that the majority of them had to do with listening, encouraging, and spending time with lonely people. Maybe that reflects what our teenagers — and the rest of us, for that matter — need the most.

Here are some of my favorite ideas from the past few weeks — and most of them you can try for less than $5!

1. Take the time every once in a while to write a note to someone, just to show that you appreciate them or are thinking of them.

2. Pack ziplock bags full of snacks and goodies for the homeless and pass them out at stop lights.

3. Give your time to someone.  Just spend some time talking one-on-one with someone about anything and everything.  Listening to what someone has to say is a gift in itself.

4. Make someone a goodie bag filled with all their favorite candy and give it to them when you think they most need it.

5. Burn a CD of some of your favorite songs that you think a friend would enjoy, and give it to them.  Let them know they were on your mind.

6. Buy used copies of your favorite books to give to a friend who is going on vacation, or even to a random stranger.

7. Bake something for someone you know, but who wouldn’t expect you to think of them.

8. Pay attention to your facebook/instagram/twitter to see if your friends post about wanting or needing something, and then surprise them with it. Basically, really listen to people and their needs and you will find ways to help them out.

9. Buy coffee/lunch/pay the toll for the person behind you.

10. If you see someone who seems lonely or sad, invite them over and cook a meal with them. Then try encouraging them as you eat together.

11. Give flowers to an old lady and thanks [sic] them for everything.

12. Sit and listen to what your friend or another person has to say. Sometimes there are no perfect words, just perfect silences.

13. Donate a variety of school supplies for underprivileged kids.

14. Prepare an unexpected meal for someone who is very caring. For example: a parent.

15. Hold the door open for someone.

16. If a friend needs more than you can give, use social media to ask others to help. Sometimes people want to help but don’t know how.

17. Pay favors forward, and ask the next person to do the same.

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Published in: on August 15, 2014 at 11:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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Intergenerational Ministry: a Snapshot

Much of my undergraduate ministry training under Dr. Walter Surdacki has focused on the concept of intergenerational ministry, and integrating the youth of the church back into fellowship with adults.  One thing that I love about Dr. Surdacki — and something that kind of drives me crazy, too — is that he doesn’t always give us practical solutions.  He just makes us wrestle with a difficult concept.  I always have to work through it asking, “This is great, but how in the world can it practically work?”  Because I’m passionate and impulsive, I want everything to be fixed right now, but this can’t always be the case.  I’ve had to learn to slow down, translate the technical jargon into life application, and implement it little by little.  Volunteering with the youth group at Grace during my time in college has been such a valuable experience for multiple reasons, but also because it provides me with a way to put into practice what I’m learning.  These concepts aren’t packed away in a dusty notebook as intangible theology or ‘someday’ ideas.  I get to use them now, and while the ideas are still fresh in my mind, they become a part of my ministry that I build on as I go.

So I want to share with you one practical way I recently put the concept of intergenerational ministry into practice.  For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do something with my girls outside of church to spend some time bonding in a more chill atmosphere.  So I started planning my first subversive intergenerational attack: a movie night for the moms and girls.  The girls may have been a tiny bit less than thrilled when I told them their moms were invited, but it actually turned out great.

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It was hosted by one of our moms, Joanne Kraft (also a gifted writer — check out her facebook page here), and we ended up having 10 girls and 5 moms.  Joanne had thoughtfully provided quite the smorgasbord of cookies and popcorn and all sorts of snacks, so we had a very pleasant time hanging out and grazing.  We watched the movie Leap Year, a predictable but cute romantic comedy that of course ends with the girl leaving her personality-less fiance for the sarcastic and oh-so-cute Irishman.

After the movie, we had some open discussion about it:  What did you not like about her fiance?  What did you like/not like about the other guy?  She was kind of a diva — if you were a guy, would you have married her?  What do we learn from that about what kind of women we want to be?  I read from Proverbs 31 and its male counterpart, Job 31, and we talked about what a relationship would look like between two people who are totally focused on God.  Then I asked the moms to share some of their stories, which was powerful.  Here’s a very brief summary of the 5 in their diversity:

1) Married out of high school and divorced young before she met the Lord, but then married a godly man, and has a beautiful family.

2) Saved her first kiss for marriage!!

3) Knew that her husband was The One long before he did.

4) Just recently came to know God in the last couple of years and, while dealing with the pain of a broken family, wants her daughter to make better choices than she did.

5) Met her future husband on a mission trip and prayed that God would find him a good wife, unknowingly praying for herself!

yeah, I don't really have an explanation for this -- crazy youth minister stereotype

yeah, I don’t really have an explanation for this — crazy youth minister stereotype

From there we just had some random discussion, from crazy proposal stories, to girls asking questions, to moms giving advice and sharing their wisdom.  It was so fantastic.  And even greater — I hardly saw a single cell phone out.  They were all totally engaged in the discussion — because when a woman obviously in love starts telling the story of her romance, she’s cool even if she is a mom.  Instead of distinguishing between “girls” and “women,” it was more an atmosphere of “We’re all women in different stages of life with different things to share, walking the same journey together.”

It was a great opportunity for the girls to see their moms in a different way, to spend time in community in a more relaxed atmosphere than church, and for the moms to get to know each other and encourage one another on this journey of parenting middle school girls.  And it was a huge blessing to this girl’s heart to see how God is working in the lives of my group of beautiful and precious young women.

Ironically enough, I didn’t manage to get a picture with the girls and moms together, so this totally contradicts the point of this post, but here’s a picture of me and my girls:

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