Serve Locally

Serving in various capacities has had a huge impact on my faith journey and has shaped my path in life and in professional church ministry. I have served locally, nationally and internationally and have seen the benefits and challenges of all three options.

I have served among friends, repairing roofs and making connections that I will never forget. I have served in areas where Christianity is not widely accepted and Bibles are hard to come by. I have served in areas where natural disasters have struck and changed lives forever. Most importantly, in every situation, I have served the LORD and the people in each situation with an open heart and mind.

Preparing for a mission trip, servant event or one day service opportunity should be approached with a similar mindset and servant attitude. There are variations and more tasks with trips depending on length, participants, location, etc. But each type of trip is important and valuable.

There are many benefits to serving locally. There is Scriptural foundation for serving in various places as well as physical, emotional and spiritual benefits. Here I will outline six responses to the question: “Why serve locally?”

1) We are called.

One of my favorite pieces of Scripture to use when I am discussing mission trip/serving opportunities and why to take advantage of them is Acts 1:8, where Jesus says,

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

For the disciples, who Jesus was talking to, Jerusalem was close by: Judea and Samaria were farther away. And the ends of the earth? Well, I think you get the picture. We are called to witness the faith we have in Jesus Christ and serve others in our homes with our families, in our neighborhoods, at our places of worship, at the grocery store and so on. Basically, we have many opportunities to serve others and be witnesses to God’s love!

2) It’s EASY!

When the question is asked, “Why serve locally?” a response could be, “Why not?” In all of my experiences, serving locally is the easiest because:

  • You are in familiar surroundings and it’s somewhat of a comfort zone for participants.
  • You have local networks and opportunities to partner with various organizations and stores that may provide donations.
  • Inviting students and families to serve for one day or for one week is equally easy because it’s close by.

3) It’s inexpensive.

Serving locally is the most inexpensive out of all the options. Serving in other settings has been worth every penny, but if you are just starting out, trying something new or just don’t have the funds, serving locally is a great, inexpensive option. If it’s a one day serving opportunity, it may even be free (ex. Habitat for Humanity). A new, inexpensive opportunity is more likely to draw parents and students to get a taste of what it’s like to serve.

4) It’s impactful.

Serving in general most certainly has a positive impact on everyone who is involved. Serving locally can have a great impact because it changes a person’s perspective of his/her surroundings. By serving in a familiar area, we are able to connect service with relationships built, as well as making connections for the future. When participants are able to see how easy it can be to serve right where they are, it provides encouragement to try again. Serving locally impacts how one sees his/her community and how they can make a difference in the future. Serving locally, similar to other serving opportunities, with the help of the Holy Spirit, instills desire and
consideration to serving professionally in church work or various other helping professions.

5) It’s relational.

We all know that life is about relationships. Relationships are vital in ministry to our families, in our workplaces and in sharing God’s love in our everyday lives. It is easy to forget when we are at work in an office environment during the week. But in the setting of a service project or mission trip, relationships are everything! The relationships that are formed among the group serving and with those who are being served is a significant component and takeaway in the experience. Whether the relationships formed last beyond the experience, they will have an impact and shape those who are serving.

6) It benefits future serving experiences.

In my own experience, a small taste of service provides a desire to serve more. Serving locally provides the opportunity to try something new, take a small (or large) step out of your comfort zone and do so in an affordable manner. If the experience is a positive one, participants are likely to crave more opportunities.

Perhaps a one day service project with your congregation turns into a week-long experience, still in the community, but partnering with area churches. The next step may be traveling to another state to serve alongside participants in the same age group who are also learning about their faith relationships and the impact of serving. Serving locally can provide new lenses when serving in other settings. A first-time serving experience can shape how service happens and a person is impacted in the future.

Again I respond to the question, “Why serve locally?” with the answer, “Why not?” We are called, we come with open hearts and minds and God’s love overflowing in our lives! The opportunities to serve are many and great and the outcome will positively impact all who are involved!

About the author

Emily is an avid writer and blogger, who is passionate about sharing stories and experiences that provide opportunities for interaction, growth and deepening faith in Jesus. Emily serves as New Programming Coordinator for KINDLE ( She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Dir. of Christian Education certificate from Concordia University Nebraska in 2008. Emily resides in Baltimore, MD, with her husband, Jack. You can connect with her at
View more from Emily

Related Resources

Why Build Resilient Youth in Youth Ministry?

Why Build Resilient Youth in Youth Ministry?

What is a resilient identity in Christ and why is it important for a healthy youth ministry? Check out this blog from the Seven Practices of Healthy Youth Ministry to find out more.

The Habits That We Make – Fundraising

The Habits That We Make – Fundraising

Should youth ministry, or any other ministry for that matter, rely on fundraising to significantly support their ministry functions? Sometimes the habits of fundraising get youth ministry into trouble. This article is designed to help you think more strategically about fundraising.

The Habits That We Make: Parents

The Habits That We Make: Parents

We all have harmful habits, even in our churches. This article helps us think about how we might have habits where parents are not growing in their own Biblical education or even expecting the church and its workers to be the primary teachers of the Christian faith for their children. By identifying these kinds of habits, we can see how we might change them.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Change or Experience?

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Change or Experience?

As youth workers, we need to remember that this cohort that experienced the COVID pandemic during their younger years experienced it differently than adults. Through research, Dr. Tina Berg has been able to identify key learnings that can help us care for young people, particularly confirmands, in the wake of the pandemic.

The Habits That We Make – Isolation

The Habits That We Make – Isolation

We all have habits, some intentionally developed and others not. Knowing our habits in ministry can be important. For example, we may tend to isolate kids and/or youth from the rest of the congregation. This article talks about how to identify this habit and push against it.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How do I know if our youth ministry program is healthy and properly caring for our teens?

Discover how you can enhance your youth ministry and serve the youth in your church with Seven Practices of Healthy Youth Ministry.

Share This