Extend the Impact of Summer Projects

By: William D. Shiell

The menu of summer programming—Vacation Bible School, camps, mission experiences, and clean up days—can be exhausting. By the time the events are complete pastors have:

When the event is over, generosity has just begun. In the summer, churches spend time asking for volunteers. Afterward, how do you acknowledge God’s presence in your midst and celebrate the abundant generosity of Christ’s church?

When Paul and Barnabas returned from their missionary journeys, they took time to communicate the results of the people’s offerings of talent and treasure as well as mission fulfillment. Take time this summer after your ministries are “over” to communicate their impact. Here are six suggestions for multiplying the impact, thanking your congregation and reaping a harvest of abundant blessings.

1. Invite a recipient of your ministry efforts to thank your church
Reach out to a recipient of your church’s work. Many participants often don’t realize how a family whose home was rebuilt from a flood was affected by the generosity of a mission team. If you held a Vacation Bible School in your community, invite one of the families who sent their children to share their experience with the church. Seek out the “least of these” that you have ministered unto, and invite them to share a personal word in a worship service. If your schedule is not conducive for them to join you for worship, video their testimony to share; or read a letter to the congregation from them.

2. Ask participants to share testimonies
As you travel with your church, watch the eyes of participants, and notice those who are especially eager to see God move in their lives. Invite people whose hearts have been touched by mission experiences to share publicly what God has done in their lives as a result of the trip.

3. Express gratitude publicly and personally to volunteers and staff
Thank them for giving their time and explain how this ministry has been able to reach people for Jesus. After the event is over, send notes to your volunteers with stories about children and students who have given their lives to Jesus.

4. Use stories of life change in your sermons
As you prepare your sermons and lessons, contact participants in your programs and ask them to share where they experienced God’s work. Testify to the personal work of your mission efforts in light of the larger story God is writing in the pages of scripture. Invite your congregation to see the work they are doing as a continuation of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.

5. Explain how money was given and used in a program and how God multiplied the impact
Pastors connect a person’s gift to the greater impact. If a church spends $500 on Bible school, show how God uses the smallest of seeds to make a difference. Like the parable of the talents, being faithful over a little is just as important as faithfulness over plenty.

6. Invite feedback after events are complete
Using surveys and focus groups, invite congregations to reflect with you on where God was at work and where they see God leading them as a result of their efforts. Encourage people to journal their responses and take steps to follow Jesus on the missional journey over the next year. If you have multi-year projects, track the “before and after” process of seeing God at work over the years.

Communicating the important work of a ministry after the project is over extends the impact beyond the moment. By continuing the journey and authentically expressing gratitude, we are able to see God at work in our midst, reap a harvest of blessings, and prepare for the next step on the journey ahead.

To learn more about how you can train to be involved in God’s mission, contact Greg Armstrong about our upcoming courses in missional theology and New Testament at garmstrong@seminary.edu.

June 26, 2019

William D. Shiell

President, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching

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