Money for Missions: Project Ideas

November 14th, 2011
Image © by ndanger | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

0ne evening at dinner Jack listened as his mother and father talked about a mission trip to Haiti that a group of adults from his church were planning. Although Jack's parents were not going on the trip, they expressed their support for the trip and spoke of plans to support the work. Jack heard about the children, the poverty in that country, and the illnesses that some children endure.

"I think that the kids in our church should buy toys to send to the kids in Haiti," said Jack. His mother answered, "Jack, you should talk to Mr. Cunningham, the trip leader, about that idea."

Jack's mother wondered if Jack would pursue the idea. After all, he's a only a first grader, she thought to herself. Imagine her surprise the next day at church when Jack found Mr. Cunningham and told him the idea. Jack also told his Sunday school teachers and Mrs. Szabo, the director of Christian education. Together they developed a plan to collect small toys, school supplies, barrettes, and hair ribbons for the children in Haiti. A letter was sent out through the Sunday school classes, and collection boxes were decorated.

From this experience, Jack is learning that although he will not travel to Haiti, he is still a missionary. He is living out the message found in Matthew 25:40, "I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me." (Common English Bible).

Many projects offer opportunities for involving children as missionaries. How do you select one? Consider these questions:

1. What are the projects your church is supporting or has your church supported in the past?

2. Are mission projects suggested in your Sunday school curriculum?

3. What has your class been studying that might lend an idea? The story of Jesus feeding five thousand people from five loaves of bread and two fish might suggest a food pantry or soup kitchen project. Hearing the story of Jesus healing the blind man might encourage supporting an overseas medical clinic.

4. Will you choose more than one project over the course of the year? You may want to alternate between projects close to home and projects far away. Doing so helps children develop a broader understanding of mission.

5. Would your class enjoy developing a relationship with a missionary? Choosing a particular missionary can be exciting as children learn about a specific mission and the people who are involved in the project.

Raising Money

Once you have chosen a mission to support, the next step is to raise funds or to collect goods to offer the project.

1. Make Children's Artwork Note Cards-Have children draw or paint pictures of Bible story scenes, using bright colors. Work with a print shop to put the pictures on note cards. Sell the note cards and use the proceeds for missions. Or try making a calendar. Talk to the printer about your project and about a possible discount on the cost of printing.

2. Sponsor a Carnival-Have games like beanbag toss, fishing, and a basketball free throw with small prizes such as stickers or bookmarks. Sell tickets and refreshments. Children could run the booths with help.

3. Deliver Christmas Cards-With the help of adults, children can deliver Christmas cards to local addresses for members of the congregation. Charge a fee for delivery. Persons pay for the delivery service instead of for postage for mailing.

4. Fill a Container-If your project has a focus, use a related item to fill with money. Include the entire congregation by putting the containers around the church along with posters the children have made to explain the project. Examples: Fill baby food jars or baby bottles for a child development project. Fill vitamin jars for a medical clinic.

5. Have a Sidewalk Art Show-Have children draw pictures, paint or use textiles for items for display. Use Scripture stories for inspiration or depict the mission project your class has chosen. Charge admission or take a freewill offering.

6. Do You Measure Up? or We're Big on Missions-Ask each child to give a penny for every inch of his or her height. Extend this opportunity to other church members by offering to measure people during fellowship time before or after worship.

7. Put on a Talent Show-Give children an opportunity to share their gifts and talents to benefit mission. Take time during the show to talk about the mission project the children are supporting. Again, take an offering or charge admission.

8. Challenge Giving-Challenge children to give as they explore their own lifestyle compared to the lifestyles of persons in other countries. Have children count the number of faucets in their homes and give ten cents for each faucet. Challenge them to give a quarter for each television and computer in their home or for each soft drink they drink in a week. Talk with children about necessities in life, such as shelter and clean water. Talk about things that are not needed to live, such as television and soft drinks.

9. Give a Penny Per Mile-If your project is far from home, find out how many miles away it is. Invite children to collect a penny for each mile. Use a map to chart your progress.

Giving Goods

Understanding the connection between money given and a particular mission project can be hard for some children, especially young children. You may choose to give a mission project supplies rather than money. If you decide to mail supplies to a mission away from your community, consider the postage costs. You will want to ask for goods that are light in weight and, therefore, less expensive to ship. Contact agencies first for a list of items they use and need for their mission. Be specific in requesting these items as an offering. If you take donations that will be sent so that items will be purchased at the mission site, use posters to show pictures of the items the children are collecting donations for so that they understand.

Children have fun shopping and choosing items to give. Encourage older children to use some of their allowance to purchase something for a mission project. Talk with them about how it feels to give their own money.

Here are some examples of goods and supplies you can collect:

1. A homeless shelter may need small-size toiletries (soap, shaving cream, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant) and towels.

2. A medical clinic may need vitamins, adhesive bandages, gauze pads, cotton balls, and cloth tape.

3. A food pantry may be in special need of baby items such as baby food, cereal, formula, and diapers.

4. A soup kitchen may need donations of food or help in preparing and serving food. Get busy as a class and cut vegetables for soup, wash fruit, or make cupcakes and cookies.

One church chose a different local project to support each year during vacation Bible school and asked children to bring in a different item each day for the offering. When they chose the homeless shelter, the schedule of offering looked like this:

Monday-toothpaste or toothbrush
Tuesday-soap or powder
Thursday-shaving cream or deodorant
Friday-towel or washcloth

A tally was kept of the items brought in and was posted for everyone to see each day. After vacation Bible school concluded, a group from the sixth grade class helped deliver the supplies to the shelter. This idea can also be done for each week of Advent (4 weeks) or Lent (7 weeks) make sure to celebrate what the children have collected at your Christmas Eve and Easter worship services.

Whether your class chooses to raise money or to give goods and supplies, you can rejoice in the giving. Your goal is not raising the money but sharing it.

When talking with the children in your class, do not make children feel guilty about those in need. Help them instead understand and feel the joy of giving in response to God's love. Loving God and their neighbor (Matthew 22:37 -40) becomes a reality as children become involved as missionaries.

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