What Are the Best Ideas You've Seen?
Ah, in our hemisphere it is fall, when a young mobilizer's fancy turns to thoughts of missions conferences. This question is really just a quick poll: What are some of the best ideas you've seen or personally used in the context of a church's annual missions event? To get your mind going, here's some I've seen, others I'm working on for my church, and some I've just been told, really work:
Creative promo material for missions: One example is a set of cards (like baseball cards) featuring the children of the missionaries the church supports. Each card is customized with the kid's location, age, and interests. My church is allergic to bulletin boards. Posters have a wall life of around 2-3 hours depending on how quickly the administrative pastor can rip them down! So, as a mission team, our committee decided to print pictures and updates from our missionaries on placemats and coffee cups in the church cafe.
Changing the name. Some have been called a "Missions Fair." Thinking more creatively, you could go with "Global Mela." "Mela" is an Indian word for "big party," and if you're doing it right, the event should feel like something of a party!
Bring in a great speaker. While there aren't a lot of missions speakers who generate buzz just on the weight of their name, there are some who can really make the difference in a missions conference. It can be a bit of a headache trying to book someone internationally with language barriers, double bookings, hectic schedules, but it is often worth the work.
I think it would be great to screen a film after one of your missions services. I'm thinking of a high-quality, high-interest movie that has some sort of cross-cultural theme to it. It wouldn't have to be totally family-friendly, but you'll need to be somewhat cautious. So, no skin, bad words, or dirty jokes. Yikes, a tall order, eh?
End of the Spear comes to mind. Blood Diamond. The Last King of Scotland. Hotel Rwanda. Can you suggest other titles?
Tastes of the Nations. Invite the different cultures of your church to bring in their "back-home" cooked meals for everyone's enjoyment. Encourage people to come in their national dress. Decorate! Enjoy the taste of the nations, and get a glimpse of heaven too.
Instead of all talk and little action (besides passing the plate), why don't you integrate a missional activity right in your community into the festivities? Show people you're about doing missions too.
If you have a STM team going out close to your conference dates, why not commission them in front of the whole congregation, praying over them and blessing them as a team?
Please pass along the best ideas you've implemented or seen.