02 Jan The Year of the Bigger
I will admit that this blog’s title is misleading. For some, it sent a chill down your spine for fear that I was advocating throwing dieting aside thus producing the need for a larger sized wardrobe. So, relax and go ahead and keep on munching on your no calorie, no sugar, no salt, no taste food and drink your no zero calorie, zero taste water. This blog is about something totally different.
As we start this new year, I want to challenge you to set your sights on bigger goals and, as a result, reap bigger rewards. To further narrow the purpose of the blog, I want to challenge you to set a goal for something that you can’t accomplish by yourself, especially in the area of giving.
During our 25 years of being children’s pastors in South Florida, we challenged our children’s ministry to go beyond their weekly tithes and offerings and take on a different giving project each year that would impact places in the world that we would never go and help people that we would never see. This was a concerted sacrificial giving to go after a bigger, lasting harvest. One year, we invested into an orphanage in the Honduras and provided the funds for much needed bunk beds. Another year, we provided the funds to build a kitchen and additional classrooms for a school in Burkina Faso. Another year, the entire children’s ministry gave week after week to provide the necessary funds to drill a water well in Africa. And, one of my favorite projects was the year that we raised the funds to provide literature for pastors in underground churches in the Middle East. I could go on and on.
Here is the purpose of this blog. In 2017, with the approval and knowledge of your leadership, I want to challenge you and your Sunday school class, children’s church, youth ministry, small group to take on a mission that just one person alone can’t accomplish. Determine that 2017 is the year of the bigger and by a concerted joint effort the impossible will become possible.
Some practical advice …
* Find a project. With the approval of your leadership, contact a missionary that your church supports and get suggestions. Contact your denomination to see what projects are timely and urgent.
* Make it a tangible/relatable project. In other words, your group is providing funds for something that is seeable/touchable. It has to appeal to the senses. Just giving to “missions” is good but doesn’t stir passion. At our church, the kids could picture kids not having a bed to sleep in and so it was easy to raise funds for the orphanage. Our kids could image what it would be like to go without water. The really cool thing about the water well project was that in order for a village to receive the water well, they had to grant permission for a church to be built in the village. So, drinkable water AND living water were being provided through each nickel and dime and dollar given. With the literature project, we knew that the moneys provided were covertly supplying Sunday school books, flannel stories, puppets, etc. to reach children that had previously never heard of Jesus in a land that forbade the preaching the gospel.
* Don’t limit your giving to foreign projects. There are many tremendous ministries in your area that would welcome your prayerful support.
* Know the cost. Be knowledgeable of what is needed. In other words, have a goal. Each water well costs >>> dollars. Each Sunday school literature pack costs >>> dollars. Each bunk bed costs >>> dollars. Know this amount so that you can set a quantitative goal of how many wells or vehicles or bunk beds that you want to finance.
* Make it a faith challenge. This means that it will be a stretch of faith to accomplish your goal. Remember that this is the year of the bigger which will dictate bigger challenges and sacrifices.
* Give WEEKLY updates. It’s true … out of sight, out of mind. Continually stir the passion by sharing how much money is coming in and how close that you are to accomplishing your goal.
* Make it fun and memorable. In our church, we challenged the boys against the girls with a leader suffering the “consequences” of being on the side with the lower offering. (The pictures show my “fun”.) Challenge a small group against another small group, a Sunday school class against another Sunday school class, the men’s ministry against the women’s ministry.
I apologize for the length of the blog. It’s twice as long as I normally post. But, the message is so, so important. I’m reminded that though the various projects that we undertook while serving as children’s pastors are in the history books, the reward of each project is ongoing. They are still producing eternal fruit today. Only heaven will give an accurate record of our annual year of the bigger.
One last thought. PLEASE forward this blog or pass along this link (http://bit.ly/2jYjp6K) to EVERY leader/pastor in your church. This is something that EVERY Sunday school, women’s group, cell group, children’s church, youth group, etc. should undertake. No group is too large or too small. Let’s make 2017 the year of the bigger so that the Kingdom will have a bigger harvest.