My last pastoral appointment was a new church plant. We met in an elementary school "cafetorium" (gymnasium that did duty as a cafeteria and auditorium) for ten years. It was a lot of work setting up, breaking down, and packing up each week, but I comforted myself in the fact that this gave me the opportunity to grow in my people some "new church DNA." Without a building, we never got into the business of church fundraisers. We did fun activities, but they were always geared toward mission and outreach, not toward meeting operational expenses.
When we finally moved into our new building, the paint was hardly dry on the walls when I got cornered by a group wanting to plan fundraising events to fund our operating budget. It was a crucial moment for my vision of what I wanted the church to be in relationship to our stewardship and ownership of ministry.
I put forth an idea: fundraisers could be mission-centered and help the budget! How about a dinner to raise money for the Africa University Fund apportionment? Whatever was raised would go toward that apportionment (which was a line-item in our church budget), and it would also be an opportunity to educate our members about the impact they were making through this brand new university in Zimbabwe!
What mission work is your church supporting that is expanding your ministry beyond your walls and the boundaries of your community? How about campus ministries at universities well known to your congregation? What about outreach centers in urban areas of your conference that are supported in the annual conference's budget and funded through your mission shares? How about an annual fundraiser that could highlight the history and current mission of one of the colleges that United Methodists support through the Black College Fund?
Step 1: If one of these suggestions doesn't spark an idea for you, get a copy of the most recent edition of your annual conference's journal. (Your pastor or lay member to conference should have a copy.) Find the annual conference budget included there, and see what ministries will excite your members.
Step 2: Recruit some creative types in your congregation, as well as some folks who have real passion for the church's outreach. Decide on the type and timing of a fundraising event that will fit most closely with the mission you want to support.
Step 3: Plan some communications to promote the event you want to hold, using bulletins, newsletters, and social media. Search for images that can be included, and maybe projected as you promote the event during your worship service's announcement time. Some of these images may be enlarged and displayed at the event itself.
Step 4: Prepare a brief description of the mission and its impact – such as a short case statement. This could be shared before the event, or included (with some images) on a placemat for the event (simply printed on 11x17 or 8½x14 sheets of paper or poster board) for folks to read when they find their seats.
Check your conference website, as well as the following UMC websites, which are updated regularly:
For digital images, contact your conference communications staff. and visit the following site:
Rev. Ken Sloane, Director, Stewardship & Generosity, Discipleship Ministries
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