It’s that time of year — time to take up the missions offering (or what most Southern Baptists call the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering).
You know how it goes … you wrack your brain for days trying to figure out a new way to get your church involved, excited and supporting international missions. At some point, you wonder how missionary legend Lottie Moon managed to rally an entire denomination to pool their resources for missions by writing letters when you can barely pull together an announcement.
Never fear! Just follow Moon’s “tried and true” game plan: issue a challenge; share ideas; cheer/motivate progress and then watch God work. Here are a few ideas and resources to help get your creative juices flowing:
1. Paper Doll Missionary Challenge. Give a quarter for every missionary that Southern Baptists currently have serving internationally, 4,900. If you give 25-cents x 4,900 missionaries, that will equal $1,225. Want a bigger challenge? Up the ante by giving $1 or even $10 per missionary. Keep track of your progress by creating a paper doll chain in the hallway or sanctuary for every missionary that money is given for. Find stories on missionaries to share at Lottie@Work. (Source: Diana Davis)
VARIATIONS: See how many missionaries you can support for a day ($140), week ($981) or month ($4,250). a) Use paper dolls to show how many missionaries you supported. b) Build a LARGE missionary paper doll piece-by-piece (each section of the body signifies reaching a specific dollar amount) with the final piece representing met goals. c) Download Flat Lottie and use her in the place of a paper doll.
2. Lottie Jar. Collect for missions all year with a loose change jar. Decorate it and stick it in a place most people pass. Challenge people to bring spare change all year and dump in the jar. At the end of the year, add it your missions offering. (Source: Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong encouraged women in the 1800s to pool their “egg money.”)
3. Missions Post Office. This is an oldie but a goodie! Christmas is one of the few times when people actually mail cards. Set up a “Post Office” in your church. Decorate a basket or “mail box” for Lottie Moon and Christmas. Encourage church members to use this Lottie mailbox for delivering Christmas cards to fellow church members. Donate what it would normally cost to mail the cards to missions. Have the youth group or children’s class deliver cards before and after church services.
4. Unreached People Group Contest. There are 6,898 people groups that still have not been reached with the Gospel. We are talking about billions of people! Have a contest between Sunday school classes or departments to see who can “reach” the most people groups through their giving. Set a price per people group (25-cents, 50-cents, $1). Keep track of what each class or department has given by using a cutout symbol (Bible, cross, etc.) per people group. Track progress in a place everyone can see and have plenty of opportunities to tease each other.
Tell stories about the different UUPGs during class announcements. Get stories and facts at peoplegroups.org. Make sure the children and youth are involved, they will keep the excitement going … and going … as you help reach people with Christ through cooperative giving. (Source: My “amped up” version of a Dr. Chuck Lawless tweet)
5. Auction. Use this fun social event to draw all ages together for one cause. Between auction items, educate about Lottie Moon and today’s missionaries. Explain that 100 percent of the proceeds goes to international missions.
VARIATIONS: Okay, there’s a million ways this idea can go. a) Get the youth group to volunteer their slave labor for auctioning. Everyone needs help putting up Christmas lights and decorations … or taking them down. b) Have a church that sends out mission teams? Plan in advance and bring home items to be auctioned off for Lottie. It’s a great way to raise awareness about your mission partnerships and support missions. c) Homemade Christmas ornaments! Have everyone in your small group bring a homemade ornament and auction it off. Believe me, it will provide for some great entertainment at a Christmas party. Do it church-wide and get the kids involved.
6. Yard Sale. Hold a yard sale with all proceeds going to the international missions offerings. Sell donated clothes, toys, furniture, etc. Maybe even take it up a notch with some Christmas baked goodies and homemade candy for sale, too! (Obviously, this idea means you need volunteers to pick up the donations and still others to work at the sale.) Be sure to let those perusing the deals know that 100 percent of the proceeds go to support missions. (Source: Natalie Baker)
7. Missions Banquet. This is an idea that never gets old, just improves with age! Prepare a special meal and sell tickets to the event. Get volunteers to make most of the food and desserts. Decorate the fellowship hall for Christmas and/or with a missions theme. Get some ideas for food, decorations and missionary stories at this Lottie Moon Pinterest page. Plan some entertainment and fun. Teach about Lottie Moon and her missions legacy with this one-stop website about Lottie Moon. Find videos, a LOT of skits, Lottie’s famous teacake recipe and more. To show what today’s missionaries are doing, go to the Week of Prayer website and see what last year’s mission offering did.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve heard that some churches are hosting “family fun runs/skips” while another church has an annual “ugliest Christmas sweater contest.” There are so many creative and fun ways to boost your church’s giving to missions. Find even more suggestions in this “mission offering” idea gallery.
Don’t forget to tell us what you are doing by adding to the gallery or comment section below. Just like Lottie Moon, your idea might spark someone else to action.
Meet the Writer:
Susie Rain began giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering as a preschooler. She still gives to this offering today while living and writing in Southeast Asia.
To give directly to international missions, contact your church or go to Donate Now.