Ignite Fall 2016: Great Idea, Church – A Christmas-Season Outreach!
From the executive director
Each year my home congregation in Weldon Spring, Missouri plans a Christmas-season mission outreach project—usually a whole-congregation-involvement campaign that provides something helpful to a group of folks. This year, quite unbeknownst to me, the mission leaders selected college students.
The church’s promo reads,
Christmas Mission Project is all about supporting college students. Which college students? Anyone who could use some love and a surprise “Joy Box” in their mailbox. They do not need to be connected to [our congregation]! We will ship the boxes in January.
So throughout Advent, the congregation is conducting a collection of goodies to go in the Joy Boxes—Pez dispensers, socks, Starbucks gift cards, Silly Putty, kazoos, fake mustaches (what student doesn’t need a fake mustache, really?), and so on. A member can also sign up to pray for a college student; the name is provided in January. Plus the congregation is collecting monetary donations to cover shipping the boxes and also to help cover some expenses for a local Lutheran campus ministry at Lindenwood University.
Well, I like the idea—not because it will provide congregational “care packages” to Lutheran students (although some recipients will no doubt be Lutheran). Nor do I like it because it will make a huge difference in the spiritual lives of a bunch of college students (kazoos and Pez won’t make that kind of a difference; they just won’t). I like it because it could make a small difference that might just stick in the mind (and heart) of a young adult (or a few, or more) whom the Spirit has been working on and who is ready to open up to the idea of faith in the God Who made him … in the Savior Who redeemed her.
I like it, too, because it’s a tiny bit counter-cultural: it’s common, sure, to get gifts at Christmas time; what student isn’t hip to that? But to get a gift from people you might not even know who have a concern for your mind, heart and soul and who have committed to pray for you? Friends, that’s not a Black Friday sell-a-bration extravaganza; and it’s sure not Santa Claus. For some recipient somewhere, it will be real in a way we might not even be able to imagine.
What about your campus ministry; what about your students’ home congregations? Do you do an Advent/Christmas outreach for students? An Epiphany outreach (hey, it could happen)? A Lent/Easter outreach? What’s it look like? Do you send fake mustaches too? Do you include special messages from those doing the giving? What else do you do? I would love hear your story; email it to me at greg.koenig@GoLCMA.org. And hey—don’t share your story for me; share it for other ministries who are ready to get involved in similar ways—and for that student someplace whose mind and heart are on the threshold of opening up to the message of Jesus.
God bless us in our ministry together!
Want to read the fall 2016 issue of Ignite in its entirety? Click here!