You are ready for Step Three in the One Day Initiative. This step takes place on any day you choose, but preferably in September or October. What do you do? Your class or small group is going to conduct a mission project in your community. I know, many of you may be thinking, "We've never done this before". That's right, and that is why this is going to be so exciting. You are going to step out in faith and do something that you may have never tried.
You may be asking, "Why can't we just invite everyone to come to our church and forget these mission projects?" Here's why… research tells us (Alan Hirsch and also LIfeWay Research) that less than 20% of the people in America are open to "come and see" evangelism. That is why your group is doing a mission project in your neighborhood. It is called incarnational evangelism. We are going to where the lost people are! If you want to catch fish, then you need to go to a lake or stream that has fish in it!
We are following the pattern of Jesus. Read John 1:14 and Philippians 2:6-8. What did Jesus do to reach people who were lost in their sin? He did not say, "Come over where I am and let Me instruct you on how to have everlasting life". No, Jesus – the only Son of God – left heaven and came to to earth to live with us. In other words, Jesus came to our turf. And He wants us to do the same. In Matthew 4:19, He says, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men".
The mission project that your group does needs to put you in unchurched territory. My Sunday School class did this recently. The pictures you are seeing in this post are pics of my class doing our mission project. We called our local school and asked if there was a needy family that we could help. After getting permission from the family, the school put us in contact with them. We did an "extreme home makeover". We fixed their roof, skirted their trailer, fixed two doors, did repairs on the inside of their home, fixed their front porch, and caulked their windows. We continued to help this family (mom and daughter) even after our project was officially over. One of our ladies routinely visits the mom and has coffee with her. Four months after our mission project, I walked into worship and there sat this sweet little family. Six months later, the mom is employed and they are back on their feet. They are also members of our church!
Start early – Do not wait until the last minute to try to do this. By the last Sunday of August, your group needs to start planning the project. Choose your project and pick a date to complete it. There will be some research you will have to do and maybe even materials you will need to purchase in advance.
Avoid shoeboxes – I mean, come on. Try not to send a couple of ladies from your class to Wal Mart to buy some deodorant and toothbrushes and call that a mission project. There is nothing wrong with doing this on occasion, but lets raise our expectations of our group's ability to really do something profound. You can always be part of Franklin Graham's very worthy Christmas effort in a couple of months. (Please understand, I'm not dissing Franklin Graham's shoebox ministry. It's awesome. But this is for your community).
Expect the best – Do the best you can. Your group may decide on a challenging project. Go for it! The more challenging it is, the more you will have to rely on God to see it through.
Get everyone involved – Let me talk to the guys. Men, be leaders and step into this for your group. This is how it is… if the men get involved the women will too. Reaching your community with the gospel is not for the fainthearted. Read about Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28. Now that is the kind of stuff that legends are made of! Guys, surely you can plan one Saturday away from the recliner and football, and get involved in changing eternity for some people in your neighborhood. You ladies understand, sometimes you just have to tell a man how it is and not beat around the bush!
Enlist a mission project coordinator – You do not want everyone in the class calling the people or group that you are helping and wearing everyone out in the process. Have one point of contact and enable that person to do the work.
Church Mission Walk – Toward the end of October or early November, we encourage your church to have a "Mission Walk". On this day, every class puts together a presentation of what they did for their mission project. During Sunday School (or before or after church if you do home groups), allow the entire church family to walk through all the rooms and look at the pictures, videos, and testimonies of all the different mission projects. This will be an awesome day! The pic to the left is of our 2 & 3 year old class delivering baby items they collected for the Hope Pregnancy Center one day. You might encourage your class to bring coffee, or some breakfast finger-foods. You will be amazed at the creativity of the people in your church, and also at how you joined God in His eternal rescue mission.