Helping others through community service can change lives and improve the place where you live. However, the act of serving others will also change you – there is nothing more satisfying than pouring out the love God has for you on other people.
There are many different ways you can engage with your community, and the start of a new year is the perfect time to commit to finding a place to plug in. Here are five godly ways you can give back to your community this year.
1. Get Involved at Church
Getting involved at your church is a great place to start connecting with your local community. Children’s ministries often need volunteers, and church leaders work to care for members who are struggling with illness or financial trouble. Many churches also partner with local nonprofits to serve members across their communities.
For example, churches host food drives, hold holiday events, donate Christmas gifts to families in need, and work with programs to meet needs and empower individuals in poor or underprivileged communities. You’ll be amazed at how many people you can touch just by plugging into your church community.
2. Care for the Environment
When God created the world, he put people in charge of working and caring for it (Gen. 2:15). Unfortunately, humanity has done a terrible job of fulfilling this role. Through selfishness and immoral gain, people have destroyed and abused much of God’s creation.
Another way you can serve your community and honor God is to treat His world with respect. A few ways to act this out include cleaning up litter, learning to recycle, and becoming more aware of what chemicals you use and how they affect the environment. You can also watch out for invasive species spreading in your area.
3. Volunteer to Fill a Need
Each community has a unique set of needs that need to be met. For instance, some cities have a high population of homeless individuals who need support. College towns may need support systems for students who’ve moved far from home. Schools, retirement homes, and crisis pregnancy centers often look for volunteers to support their workers and care for their clients.
Find a need that appeals to you, and then look for nonprofits and other groups that are meeting that need. If no one in your area is addressing it, consider starting small and addressing it on your own. Your family and church community may decide to join your efforts, and you could even start your own nonprofit.
4. Pray for Your Community
As James wrote in the New Testament, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Acting on your desire to care for others is the only way they’ll know about and receive that care. While it’s essential to love others through action, it’s also important to operate through God’s power instead of your own.
That’s why prayer is such a powerful way to care for your community. God knows about the needs you don’t see, and He wants to partner with you through prayer to bless others. By lifting up your community in prayer, you’ll be reminded of God’s heart toward others and that His presence always goes with you.
5. Nurture Good Health
Another way you can benefit your community is by taking care of yourself. Lack of sleep is closely linked to mental health issues, as your body repairs itself and regulates hormones while you sleep. Nutrition and getting regular exercise are also important factors for mental and physical health.
If you’re not getting enough sleep and you’re chronically stressed, you will be limited in what you can do for others. While God does work through our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9), He also cares about our physical and emotional health (Psalm 23). It is not God-honoring to ignore personal health because you’re so focused on serving others.
Follow Jesus’ Footsteps
Life is busy, and it can be challenging to find time to give back to your community. However, as a disciple of Jesus, your life mission is to know God and make Him known. There is no better way to do this than to serve others.
Follow these five steps to start investing in your community, connecting with others, and living out the faith that is so precious to you. Once you get started, you may be surprised at how many opportunities serving others will bring you.