As a missions discipleship leader, it can be challenging to plan projects that give children the opportunity to take the lessons they have learned during their meetings and apply them to the needs in their community. It can be especially challenging to make sure the majority of the projects are missions projects and not simply ministry projects.
You may ask, “What is the difference between the two?”
Missions is sharing the gospel in words and through actions. A missionary is someone who goes into the world to share the gospel. A missions project is an opportunity to share the good news that God loves the person you are helping.
So, what defines a ministry project? A ministry project ministers to or helps someone who has a need. For example, many collection projects are ministry projects, such as collecting school supplies, collecting toiletries for the homeless, or collecting food for the food pantry. All of these are worthy projects for helping someone who has a real need. However, a ministry project can often lack the personal connection to the people who need your help. A very important element of a project — and what makes it a missions project — is whether it gives your group a platform for sharing the gospel.
What makes outstanding missions projects is the depth of the personal connection to the people with needs so the gospel can be shared with them.
So, how can you turn a collection ministry project of toiletries for the homeless into a missions project? Invite Sunday School classes or the entire church to join your group’s collection effort. As a leader, learn where the homeless congregate, such as a homeless shelter for a meal. Inquire whether your group can help serve the meal. Then, have children share the gospel message through movement with Christian music or present a puppet show or a skit. This will allow children to share the gospel in a creative and personal way.
Every project can give children the understanding that God commands us to show love to others, to help others, and to be kind to others. When we do so, God’s love shines through us. Each project should have the potential to share the gospel, too, so children can understand that no matter what they do, where they are, or with whom they come in contact each day, they can let someone know God loves them.
As a leader, we are training children to develop a missions-focused lifestyle. You are influencing their lives during the most impressionable years of their maturation.
Missions projects are valuable in teaching children that we need to take every opportunity to let someone know our heavenly Father cares about them and wants to have a relationship with them.
Take ministry projects to the next level by adding a missions component of sharing the good news of God’s amazing love so children have the potential to expand God’s kingdom and be missionaries in their communities!
Edith Huff-Fisher has a passion for missions discipleship. She has taught Girls in Action for over 30 years.