The Thanksgiving season is a wonderful time to teach club members about giving thanks and praising God for His many blessings. In today’s materialistic culture, it is all too easy for kids to expect everything and say Thank You for nothing. Finding ways to teach them the importance of showing appreciation can be a challenge. The good news is that there are some simple ways to help club members broaden their perspectives, think about others and develop an “attitude of gratitude”.
Be an example. Are there times during club that you find yourself grumbling to your co-leader or others about the small things that happen in club? Remember kids are watching—all the time! Instead, look for the good behind the problems and challenges you encounter. For example, there may be a lot of preparation needed for club each week, but it’s because God has given you so many kids who want to come. Demonstrate gratefulness to club members by going out your way to publicly thank them for helping you and others. Demonstrate that a thankful attitude is valued in club and by God.
Acknowledge thankfulness publicly. When a club member says, “Thanks!” stop what you’re doing and tell them how much you appreciated hearing them say that. You could says something like, “It makes me feel so good when you say thank-you!” Point out when other club members remember to thank each other.
Show examples of gratitude from the Bible. Share the story of the thankful leper from Luke 17:11-19. Impress upon your kids the importance of thanking Jesus. So often we take for granted all the good things that God gives us. Look up Bible verses together, have club members read the verse and explain what it says we should be thankful for. Some verses to try are Psalm 138:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Psalm 136:26; John 6:11 and Daniel 2:23.
Do a reality check. You don’t want to upset club members with graphic photos of starving children. But there are ways to challenge their assumptions about things they take for granted. Have a missionary or a local food pantry volunteer come to club and share what they do, what kinds of people they help and why. Try taking a field trip to the food pantry or relief organization. Be creative and design a way that your club members could help others in need. Collect food and clothes for a homeless shelter or toys for needy children at Christmas.
Find ways to give thanks. Come up with ways that club members, leaders and volunteers can continually demonstrate gratitude throughout the club year. Set up a “thank-you box” with a pad and pencil nearby to write short notes of thanks to other club members and leaders. Be sure the notes get to the right people by the next club meeting. Have club members make simple cards to thank volunteers who offer their expertise for a particular activity award or others who are invited as special guests to speak in club.
Remember that the more you incorporate an “attitude of gratitude” into your regular club activities, the more that club members will begin to learn to make this a regular part of their lives.