Mission Projects

Thanks and Giving

This November, the RAs and GAs at my church played very important roles in a churchwide missions effort centered on Thanksgiving. For weeks, our church collected specific Thanksgiving-type grocery items for our neighbors in one of our state’s poorest counties. Then, last week, deserving families received grocery bags filled with canned sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, boxed stuffing mix, pie filling, pie crust mix, and even a gift certificate for a turkey—all the essentials for an entire Thanksgiving meal!

RAs contributed to the cause each week by collecting the food items from various drop-off locations around the church and then organizing them in the central distribution area. GAs decorated brown grocery bags with beautiful pictures, stickers, fall-shaped die-cuts, Scripture verses, and words of encouragement. Everyone helped with packing the bags and loading them into the church vans for delivery.

Cross Generational Missions & Ministry: Take Sophomores to Seniors

Nursing homes and senior living centers are the last stop for many before entering eternity. We don’t always think of a nursing home as a target for evangelism, but perhaps it should bubble up to the top of our urgency list for sharing the gospel. Our presence there could ripple out to also impact family members of residents, visitors, and staff members. A nursing home is a fabulous place for doing missions!

Scripture calls us, as older men and women, to mentor and disciple the next generation. While we may feel a call to do it, we are often confounded in exactly how to make it happen. Millennials (those born after 1980) value authenticity and embrace hands-on service. What better way to mentor and disciple the next generation than to serve alongside them? Pulling in high school students to partner with us will not only bring youthful enthusiasm to a geriatric community but also provide opportunities to train the next generation for kingdom work. Here is a plan for making it happen:

Fall Festival Fun: Make it Missional

Inflatables, fat pumpkins, face painting, hayrides, tasty treats, games galore! What’s not to love about a fall festival, right?

On my way to work this morning, I passed at least a dozen signs advertising upcoming festivals at local schools, parks, and churches. And my own church is no exception—we are all gearing up for our largest community outreach event of the year next Sunday afternoon.

Did you get that? Our largest community outreach event of the year! Yes, a fall festival is a fun-filled, no-pressure event that draws people of all ages from the entire community, especially those who may never step foot into our church otherwise.

A fall festival can be the perfect missions opportunity for your church, too. Consider one of these ideas to jump-start your own event:

Choose Ministry That Matches Your Skillset

Placing square pegs in round holes is a mistake in every scenario—including missions! A major pitfall in missions is attempting to accomplish what we’re not gifted to do, simply out of obligation or because we see others doing it. Maybe we keep doing what we’ve always done in missions even if we’re not being successful because we haven’t opened our minds to new possibilities. Missions comes in all shapes and sizes, and an important key to success is to operate from our strengths and giftedness.

Think about the strengths, spiritual gifts, interests, and talents of your missions group. What have you done well in the past? What gets your group excited? What are the vocational strengths and experiences of each group member? How have you seen God at work through the spiritual gifts of each person? Is there a special gift or talent within your group that makes the group unique?

Free Prayer: Go and Give It

We know that prayer should be the backbone of every undertaking of the believer and the church. But can prayer also be an outreach ministry?

Absolutely! In fact, it might create an opportunity for telling people about the love, forgiveness, and salvation that Christ Jesus gives.

Generally nonbelievers welcome prayer for themselves and others within their circle of concern.

“Prayer is the key to making spiritual inroads,” said Mark Wakefield, chaplaincy strategist with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).

For a prayer outreach ministry to be effective, it should be done in places where people gather, such as NASCAR races at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Wakefield said volunteers with Alabama Raceway Ministries (ARM)—an outreach of the SBOM—assist race fans and others at the speedway, engage them in conversation, pray with them, and, when the opportunity arises, tell them about Jesus.

Though ARM is geared for a raceway environment, its concept is adaptable to other situations: arts and crafts fairs, bridal shows, festivals, car shows, motorcycle rallies—the possibilities abound!

Love a Friend to Christ

Chaney was fresh out of college, living in a city hundreds of miles from home with no friends. That is with no friends yet.

On her first day at her new job, she met Melinda and a friendship was born. What Chaney didn’t know is that friendship is Melinda’s way of doing missions.

An invitation to lunch led to a Saturday night movie, and then, “Would you like to go to church with me tomorrow morning?” Melinda asked. How could Chaney say no? A few months later, Chaney accepted Christ and joined a new believers’ class.

Melinda practices friendship missions as a natural way of sharing her faith and seeing the harvest of simply offering friendship.

Here are a few questions or concerns you might have about friendship missions:

Is it kind of sneaky to make a friend with the idea of bringing him or her to Jesus?

No. After all, the best thing you can do for any friend is to introduce him or her to Jesus, so what is underhanded about that?

I’m not a very outgoing person, so I wouldn’t be good at this.

Just be a friend and invite someone to church. Then be prepared to discuss what happened.

Form an Unlikely Missions Partnership

The crowded restaurant held tables of church volunteers, local college sorority sisters, high school service club members, and families. This unlikely mishmash of people was there for a fund-raiser for The Hub, a homeless ministry in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Hub’s leadership team has intentionally worked to welcome volunteers and supporters from a variety of groups, along with its primary target of churches, resulting in a sense of community between Christians and non-Christians who serve northwest Louisiana’s homeless.

Missions projects with other organizations are fun but come with challenges. The worldviews and actions are different. The language can get a little salty at times, the politics can get a little heated, but there is a huge advantage in the fact that we can be witnesses to the other volunteers as we serve.

Pack Your Shoe Box before Your Beach Bag

School is out and summer has officially arrived!

It’s the time for sleeping in, diving in, sun-scorched days at the ball field, and long trips in the family minivan. So gear up, and get ready to head out!

But wait! Before building that sand castle, what about building God’s kingdom? Rather than rushing to pack your beach bag, why not first pack a shoe box?

Each year, Samaritan’s Purse sponsors Operation Christmas Child, a project that collects gift-filled shoe boxes for children in need. Download a promotional video or create your own to share with your group or church.

Link up with a Nearby CWJC/CMJC Site

Across the nation, more than 200 Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps sites are bringing God’s light to their cities, serving families who find themselves dealing with issues such as homelessness, drug or domestic abuse, imprisonment, or lack of adequate education. Adult missions groups looking for a ministry in which to invest their time, energies, and love will find a myriad of ways to do so by linking with a nearby CWJC/CMJC site.

Would your group commit to spending the next year reaching out to these women and men? What are some crucial needs your members could address? Take these steps to explore an exciting missions adventure:

Investigate

Learn about CWJC/CMJC by visiting wmu.com/jobcorps. Find contact info for a site near you. Invite the site coordinator or a volunteer to present a program for your group. Better yet, take some folks to visit the site during a session.

Trading Up: Hurt for Healing

Trading Up: Bible Stories That Move Us from Pain to Peace

Bartering was popular when I was a young mother. That was the way we often managed to have better clothes for our children, haircuts, music lessons, or even luxuries such as massages. The idea was to trade with your friends: your talents for their knowledge, your professional skills (i.e., hairdresser) for theirs (i.e., masseuse). Oftentimes we knew we had really “traded up.” We were thrilled with our bargaining powers.

The plan was our way of taking what we had and trading it for what we needed. Using this same principle, Janet Erwin and Murselle McMillan wrote Trading Up: Bible Stories That Move Us from Pain to Peace. This WMU resource is designed, through the use of Bible stories and study guides, to help victims of post-traumatic stress disorder trade up: fear traded for hope, anger for forgiveness, and guilt for truth. Giving pain up to God and receiving His gift of healing in return is trading up at its best.

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