(Note: Read the side effects at the end of what happens when we come together.)
“It matters, together. It matters what you do with your life, with your time and with your money. It matters to God and God’s community. Together, it matters.”
It’s that time of year when churches begin to think about the budget for the next year. Above is the slogan of my current congregation, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, used for our stewardship campaign.
At Good Shepherd, we use the Narrative Lectionary. The nice thing about the Narrative Lectionary is that the focus in only on one story. To enrich the Sunday morning experience, we align the ministries so that everyone (Worship, Sunday School, Youth Group) is centered on that one story.
This year with our “It Matters, Together.” campaign, my colleague, Karen Walhof and I hosted a Mission Exploration -ministry fair. To make it interactive, each child had a passport that would be stamped. Here is an example:
Inviting 10 different ministries each week during the education hour, we aligned the ministries with the story for the day. It was a great cross+generational experience as kids, youth and adults engaged each other to learn God’s story and the Good Shepherd ministries. Here is what it looked like:
Week 1: The Call of Moses (Exodus 2:23-25; 3:1-15) – Praise and Practice: In the Bible story, we learn God’s name, “I Am.” In worship, we praise God’s name and practice our faith. At Good Shepherd, discover behind the scenes people who make worship happen including Sunday morning, Wednesday night and other times.
Ministries included Bible Studies, Sunday Morning Service Teams, Men’s Psalms Group, Holy Yoga, Choirs, Altar Guild, Wilderness Canoe Base, Wednesday U, Vacation Bible School.
Week 2: Manna and Quail (Exodus 16:1-18) – Crafting Care: In the Bible story, we learn that God provided food for the people. At Good Shepherd, discover the many ways we care and pray for others in our community.
Ministries included Bread for the World, Hunger Ministries, Meals on Wheels, Families Moving Forward, Loaves and Fishes, Prayer Chain, Prayer Partners, Simpson Shelter, Golden Shepherds, Prayer Shawls, and Camden Promise.
Week 3: The Call of Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1-21) – To Infinity and Beyond: In the Bible story, we learn that God called Samuel to a specific task. At Good Shepherd discover the ways that God calls us to help in the community and in the world.
Ministries included Mission Trips, Connections to Ethiopia and Uruguay, REAL Girl Program, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, Performing Arts, Good Shepherd Foundation, Parish Nurse, Quilters, and Urban Homeworks.
Side effects from this stewardship as a ministry – mission exploration? Three weeks of an open house experience. Visitors were immediately drawn into the mix. They were amazed by the excitement and energy. Kids learned to ask questions of trusted adults. Community was built between the two worshiping hours (8:15 am and 10:30 am).
The best part? Each person made a new friend, and they learned a new name. And by coming together, this community was reminded of something. That it matters what we do together. Not only to God but to each other.