Tag Archives: Community

What If I Can’t Afford a Mission Trip?

Let’s face it.  Mission Trips can be expensive.  Travel expenses, training materials, ministry supplies, possible medical expenses, meals, housing…and the list goes on.  Is the expense worth it?  Absolutely.  I’m on record that short-term mission trips can be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to provide long-lasting spiritual life change.  BUT…there are times when the expense of a trip is simply too much.  So what do you do when you can’t afford to go on a mission trip?  To put it simply, look out your window!

Each year, we host a summer mission project for our junior high students.  It is a mission trip literally in our backyard.  It teaches them how to participate in a mission trip setting, and helps their love for serving others to grow. 

Below are some examples of projects we have done in the past or plan to do in the future that are inexpensive projects that can serve as your summer’s mission trip:

  • Landscape a neighboring apartment complex
  • Yard Work for elderly of your church
  • Help with end of the year cleaning at the local school
  • Plant a community garden
  • Trash pickup along the roads of your community
  • Free Garage Sale for community
  • Vacation Bible School Projects
  • Clean nursery toys
  • Church Spring Cleaning

That should get you started.  Even if you do international trips at your church, I strongly encourage you to try some community projects either in the summer or throughout the year.   After all, if you are not serving in the community you are in now, how can you serve in someone else’s community?

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5 Tips to Host a Easter Egg Hunt on a Small Budget

Rent a helicopter.  Get the real Easter Bunny to attend.  DC Talk reunion tour concert to open the festivities.  What happens if you don’t have a large budget for your Easter Egg Hunt?  No problem.  There are ways to still host a fun event for your community.

If you are looking for tips on how to host an Easter Egg Hunt – check out my previous posts here and here.

But if you are looking to host an Easter Egg Hunt on a low-budget.  Here’s some tips you need remember:

Get the Church to Help.  As mentioned in previous blog posts, this keeps the budget low when the church donates towards the cause.  Eggs, candy, bottled water…and even cash donations go a long way to keep costs down.  In past egg-fills, we might make a quick run to the dollar store for more eggs or candy, but for the most part we have enough filled eggs for the event.

Egg Return.  Make provisions to have a place where eggs can be returned.  This will save you next year when you ask for more donations.  You will already have a nest egg (pun intended) for your event the following year.

Free.  When you have an event that is free, the expectations are not nearly as high.  When people pay for an event, they desire something in return for their payment.  Keeping it free is not only good practice as a church, but also will allow for a good spirit among those that attend.

Limited but Effective Activities.  Each year we evaluate what activities are worth keeping for the following year.  The majority of our small budget is placed into bounce houses.  These are something every kid loves and are worth the money.  Other activities like crafts, face painting, and prayer table are low-budget activities.

Keep Program Simple.  Each year we make sure to share the Gospel at our event.  It’s not a bait and switch, because it is advertised as people come to the registration table.  But let’s be honest, hundreds of people (especially kids) anxiously waiting for the Easter Egg Hunt are not going to be held at bay for very long.  So the puppet show, video, or speaker should not be much longer than 15 minutes.  That’s all the attention span you got, so use it wisely.

Hope these tips are helpful for your Easter Egg Hunt.  Feel free to comment on how you accomplish your Easter activities. 

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Never Underestimate the Youth of Today…Here’s Why

stop_underestimating_yourself_tyrone_smith1Skepticism is not abnormal.  In fact, it puts you in some pretty hefty company in the Old Testament.  Among the doubters – Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, King Saul, Isaiah, Ezekiel…and the one that used his age as an excuse, Jeremiah.

Now, I will give it to Jeremiah – he was young.  In Jeremiah, the Hebrew usage of this word child in Jeremiah chapter one referred to boys or youths.  I read several commentaries – and since there is no age given – the estimations range from a young boy to age 21.

There could very well be skepticism in your families, in our schools, and in our churches.  It could be in the mind of children or teenagers.  These ideas could have been put there by other adults that couldn’t see their potential.  Or they may simply have little confidence or are underestimating the special ways God can use them.

Adults often underestimate children and teens as well.  They may excuse their skepticism by saying they are looking out for their feelings or safety.  Underestimating is sometimes a lack of faith or a failure to see the special gifts of the youth of today.  Don’t underestimate what children and teens can do for the kingdom of God.

Parents – we cannot doubt what God can do in our children’s lives and what can be accomplished through them.  Kids & Teens – listening here and online – God can do amazing things in your life…NOW!

Let me give you some examples of what kids can do:

Picture1Alexandra “Alex” Scott was only 4 years old when she opened her front yard lemonade stand to help raise money for children with cancer. A cancer patient herself, Alex has seen her small stand grow from a curbside staple to a national fundraising revolution, boasting supporters, benefits, and events all across the country.  Sadly, she passed away at the age of 8, but her foundation (Alex’s Lemonade Stand) lives on and has raised more than $120 million and funded over 550 research projects towards the goal of putting an end to childhood cancer.

Picture2Shortly after basketball enthusiast Austin Gutwein turned 9, he saw a video that changed his life: a movie about children who had lost their parents to AIDS. Moved to make a change, Gutwein began Hoops of Hope, the world’s largest free-throw marathon, dedicated to raising money for orphaned children from across the globe and providing them with food, shelter, education, and health care. By doing something as simple as shooting free throws, Hoops of Hope participants have raised over $2.5 million.

Picture3It all started when a 9-year-old saw another student on the playground without a coat.  Since then, Maddy Beckmann made it her mission to keep kids warm in her native St. Louis, and her charity, Coat-A-Kid has coated over 10,000 children since its inception.

Why can’t our children and teens do that in our church, our community, and our country…they can and they are!  In our church, this is what has been happening because we have learned to not underestimate our youth:

Over 200 kids came to the Easter Egg Hunt to hear the Gospel & eat loads of candy…and the entire event was planned by teenagers.  Over 40 meals were delivered last October…by teens.  Two Bible studies were formed in the public schools…and were started by a 13-year-old and 15-year-old.  A community garden was planted in the local middle school…by teenagers.  2 years ago 3 teens were serving impoverished kids in Nicaragua  This summer, a team of teenagers are going to witness on the streets of New York.

Sorry Jeremiah, age is NOT an excuse.  God does not want to hear the excuses…He wants obedience.

(If you want to hear the entire message on “The Time is Now” click here)

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The Value of Vacation Bible School

It’s that time of year where Vacation Bible School is in full swing.  Maybe your church is thinking about hosting one…or you just need some encouragement to pull through another year.  Here is are some values that Vacation Bible School (VBS) can bring to your ministry…

Team Effort. Vacation Bible School is a total team effort, especially if you are in a smaller church. All of sudden, when you place that banner in your front lawn and offer 2-3 hours of child care, snacks, & fun for children…they will come. And BOOM, the children you have there is 3, 4, 5 times the size of your normal Sunday of children. You know what this means…all hands on deck. You need class leaders, teachers, snack-makers, decoration help…and the list goes on. It is a team effort by your church.

Community-Driven. Open up those doors for kids to come in. Provide ways to help parents, like providing meals for families prior or after VBS. Promote the event in your local newspaper and with banners and on your church sign. Be clear that the event is free and for the community. Let your community know this is not an exclusive club, but a week-long event for our neighbors kids to have fun and learn about Jesus.5258580_orig

Kids Meet Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, don’t weaken the sauce during this week. Make sure you have a dedicated Bible teaching time for the kids. Snacks, games, and crafts are all dynamite ideas, but do not neglect the Bible study and teaching. Build up to this…provide experienced teachers…give the teachers all the materials early for proper study time. Make this a priority, and tell your volunteers to make sure this time is focused and special.

Baby Steps. VBS is a great opportunity for new members or new teenagers to gain ministry experience before your school year schedule ramps up. Rather than put someone’s name down for a year of serving in children’s ministry, this could be an opportunity for a new person to see where they fit, their gift set, and if children’s ministry may be a place they can serve. (*Make sure to do background checks for your incoming children workers).

Fun. VBS should be synonymous with fun. Bring up the energy. Get your church excited about this week with early promotion and hype. Seeing kids sing and learn about Jesus…doesn’t get much better than that. Your joy and fun levels should be at an all-time high!

 

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Community Event Idea: A Free Garage Sale?

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Idea: A Garage Sale Giveaway or Free Garage Sale is pretty self-explanatory. Essentially, you have a garage sale or rummage sale at your church. However, the big difference is that EVERYTHING IS FREE. The goal is to show your community you care about them as Christ cares for them, and provide a way for your church to demonstrate that love.

Rules: No donations can be taken at any time. Keep this as a strict policy. If someone presses, invite them to come on Sunday morning and drop the money in the offering as worship, not as part of this sale. Second, use tickets or set a limit of items people can take in the beginning of the event. This will hopefully prevent those that are just there to take a truckload to their own garage sale (yes, this did happen in one of our past events).

Donations: People have stuff! Believe me, people will gladly give you things lying around. Opening it up to your church family to bring in their “stuff”, if you give them 2-3 months to prepare, it will come!

Organization: Have a drop off location (ours was our garage), and make this clear. Be clear in setting a drop off date. Formulate a team of volunteers to take a week to organize the donations into categories like clothes, housewares, books, etc.

Promotion: Keep this in front of your church in announcement and bulletin information.  Place an ad in your city newsletter. Put a large banner/sign in front of your church 1-2 weeks prior to the event. Provide flyers for your church family to invite others. Put an event on the app called Nextdoor.

Evangelism: Train your volunteers to respond to the “Why are you doing this?” question. Give them tips to answer that question with “Because we love our community/neighbors” and “Because Jesus gave us forgiveness/salvation for free, so we want to follow his example and give you something for free”.

Opportunity to De-Clutter: Use this event as an opportunity to de-clutter your church. Because ministry leaders will be more willing to depart with materials if they know it is going to help their community.

Important Details: Remember to call Salvation Army (or other thrift store organization) for pick up of leftover materials. Don’t forget this! Make sure to have parking lot & security available. Registration table – give information about church and place to sign up with name/address for future mailer. Volunteers needed for loading of cars and for friendly interaction with crowd.

 

I hope this provides your church a way to love your community. It is hard work, but in the end, it was worth showing others the love of Christ.

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6 Tips for a Successful Easter Egg Hunt

Last year, I wrote how to plan an Easter Egg Hunt for the community.  This time, I’d like to follow-up with six quick tips to help you have a successful hunt.  Feel free to comment with ideas you have…Easter_0000_Egg-hunt

Gospel-Driven. I put this first for a reason. I believe these events can be an opportunity for Jesus to be shared. I’m not suggesting a 4 act play on the story of Easter, but a simple object lesson that would be enjoyable for the kids and their parents.

Church Effort. Listen, the idea of a community Easter egg hunt seems pretty overwhelming to do by yourself…so don’t. Allow it to be a church effort. Encourage your church each year to donate the candy and eggs.

Sunny Bunny Eggs. Even though we support this event mostly with donations, I would suggest purchasing a base amount from Sunny Bunny Eggs for two reasons. One, it helps ease your mind that at least you will have some eggs if donations go awry. Second, it is a great organization that supports those with mental disabilities.

Divide the Ages. Too often, I see Easter egg hunts that are not divided by age and the older kids run over the little ones, like Bigfoot over cars at a monster truck rally. Splitting up the ages is always appreciated by the parents.

Bounce House. Book it right now. Book two if you can. Trust me on this one.

Teen Leadership Opportunity. Our student leaders plan and administrate this entire event. You heard me. They recruit volunteers, plan the games, contact the bounce house people, and even give the lesson. Never underestimate what teenagers can do for their community for God’s glory.

 

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Youth Ministry Goals 2014

Here are some specific and practical goals for the coming year that God has placed on my heart.  Looking forward to what God will do with these things…

1.       “Bible Doing” – We know what a Bible Study is, but what about a “Bible Doing”.  It is taking a passage of Scripture and going out and doing it!  (Idea taken from book “Love Does”)

2.       Wedding & Funeral Message Outlines/Scripts – This is something that has been on my mental list for some time.  Now it is time to get this together.

3.       Music Training Class – With my guitar player graduating this year, I look at my youth group and see very little musical ability.  Singing maybe, but not instrumental.  Part of my responsibility is to train our young people in ministry…well this may need to start in elementary, so they are ready to play in the praise band in junior high or high school.

4.       Junior High Mission Trip – Local trip where junior high students can participate.  Evaluate whether this can continue from year to year.

5.       Community Project – Connect with neighborhoods and communities, find needs and do what we can as a church to meet those needs.

6.       Host “Ask Your Leaders” Night – Provide a night where students can ask those questions on their mind, address doubts, and converse about questions that may not come up in regular discussions.

7.       Sunday School Rehab – Conduct Sunday school in a way that promotes the gifts of the teacher; evaluate forming a junior high Sunday school

8.       Equip Parents/Families – Continue/Broaden Spiritual Growth Planning, Parent Seminar/Meetings, other Parent training opportunities

9.       Continue Inter-generational and Discipleship Ministry– Find ways where generations can minister to each other, promote mentoring/discipleship

10.   Outreach – Continue to improve outreach which includes:  better visitor follow-up, Community Easter Egg Hunt, and promotion of outreach events.2014-goals

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