Monday, June 3, 2013

A Different Approach to Compassion Sunday

This past Sunday was Compassion Sunday at my church, and we took a much different approach this time.

I didn't show a video

I didn't give a formal presentation

I didn't make a plea for new sponsors

I didn't man the sign-up table

In fact....I didn't do anything except play my violin with my girls during communion.

Here's what we DID do.....

First of all, we were given the entire service to do what we wanted. My husband had the responsibility of preaching and we basically had the freedom to do whatever (an advocate's dream!). BUT we just came off a really big building campaign and our church family is tired of hearing about sacrificial giving. We knew if we got up there and asked for more financial commitments from the congregation we would be tuned out and ignored.

So we took a different approach. We decided to talk about compassion in general and what it means to have an outward focus. We highlighted all the ways our church body has reached out this past year - including the 50 kids that are already sponsored by people in our church. We celebrated what our church is already doing.

During the service our youth pastor spoke about his experience of sponsoring a little boy through Compassion. Another sponsor spoke about her family's choice to sponsor a child this past year and what that has looked like for them. And we highlighted some other local ministries that church members are involved in.

Of course we invited people to sponsor a child of their own. My husband even shared some of the data from the recent study, proving that sponsorship works. I had enthusiastic sponsors standing behind the table, eager and ready to sign new sponsors up.

Do you want to know how many kids were sponsored? Zero. 

That's right. Zero.

It would be so easy to walk away feeling like our efforts were a waste of time. To feel disappointed. To feel like it was a failure.

Instead I walked away happy and content. Why?

I know seeds were planted. There are some in our church who want to sponsor a child, but have not yet taken that step of faith. Every time they hear about sponsorship, the step they have to take gets a little smaller.

I also know that current sponsors were encouraged. Any encouragement we can give to current sponsors is so good when it comes to retaining them as long-term sponsors. The current sponsors heard the message that what they are doing is making a difference and that sponsorship really does work.

Finally, I know I was obedient to God's calling to advocate on behalf of Compassion. I've told others this before, but it's worth repeating here. If you feel called to share the message of sponsorship - joyfully and obediently answer that call. Your part is the obedience in speaking up for those who cannot speak out for themselves. It's God's job to move people to action and bring in the harvest. If you efforts do not result in sponsorship, please do not think you failed or wasted your time. It's never a waste of time to share the message of Compassion - especially if God has placed it on your heart.

It was very special to me to see my entire family involved in Compassion Sunday. With my husband sharing a message and my girls sharing their music, I was one happy lady!

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