Editor’s Note: The following is a story about a unique fundraising effort submitted by Pastor Kevin D. Evers of Bear Lake UMC in Apopka. This is a great example of how a church with a small congregation can still make an impact to its neighboring community.
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV).
Bear Lake United Methodist Church in Apopka is a smaller neighborhood church in the Orlando area. Average attendance is around 90 during Sunday worship. The congregation has been mission minded for quite some time and is very involved with the neighborhood which surrounds our community of faith.
Lay leader Dan Patterson, a member of our church, approached me earlier this year to discuss an idea to raise money for our local missions. Instead of the usual rummage and craft sale, which took place once a year and generated on average $3,000, it was proposed the church try something different.
|With only 51 members of Bear Lake UMC in attendance the day they handed out dollar bills on Feb. 28, an announcement less than nine months later on Nov. 20 brought surprising numbers.|
On a Sunday worship Feb. 28, Dan handed out a dollar bill to each person in attendance. With a light turnout, the handouts only came to $51. The challenge was to take God’s dollar and find a way to multiply it with each person asked to use their imagination, talents and creativity.
This “God’s Dollar” mission was an extremely fun and easy challenge, as every person from the congregation could participate. From young children and active members to those who were elderly or even home-bound, everyone took part in multiplying their dollar for God.
Some ways in which members of the church met this challenge included offering various services such as: day labor, transportation services, house painting and repairs. Others sold fresh garden produce, flowers, plants, original artwork and crafts, as well as homemade baked goods, even deer meat.
Everyone was then invited to bring back all of “God’s Dollars” to be collected in a special offering at a Thanksgiving service held Nov. 20. Baskets were passed around, and each person either placed their special offering or gave a note of thankfulness.
After worship, the entire congregation celebrated with a Thanksgiving potluck meal.
The moment had finally arrived. The drum roll played and Dan stepped back into the fellowship hall to announce what our congregation had accomplished. From the original $51, each of those dollar bills had multiplied into $6,628.60.
Bear Lake UMC donated all proceeds to local missions supported by the church. Half of the amount raised was given to Loaves and Fishes, an Apopka ministry to help those less fortunate. The remainder went to The Russell Home for Atypical Children in Orlando.
As I recited during the benediction that day, let us “leave this beautiful church house and go be the church to the world.”
May we always remember, no matter what size or age your congregation may be, nothing is impossible when you follow the advice on the back of a one-dollar bill and place your trust in God.