Seed Money Grants for Community Service

Earlier today while having a conversation with one of my ministry colleagues I had what might be my first original thought in years! Micro-grants to assist missional outreach efforts in our church. Here’s how the conversation developed –

First, why is it that everytime a church tries to move in a positive direction or someone makes a good suggestion we go to our default position of creating a new program? Here are some real (and good) examples of what we have done here lately. How can we encourage people to read their Bibles more? Conduct a Bible in 90 Days campaign. How can we encourage people to memorize scripture? Create a 48 verses in 48 weeks memory program and call it iRemember. How can we prepare men for leadership and discipleship? Start a Next Generation mentoring group. How can we be more intentional about community outreach? Create an Outreach ministry team.

Second, how do we measure the success of those ventures?  By the number of people who show up or participate? Do we know if people continue to read their Bibles, or memorize Scripture once the event is over? Have we really encouraged new behavior or meaningful spiritual growth? We don’t know. But we had a great event!

Third, what if we were more purposeful about equipping people that God has called to a particular ministry of outreach and encouraged them to develop that calling by providing them with a micro-grant to launch that vision? Maybe it’s a series of ten $50 or $100 grants that would be given to people or groups witin the church that have a workable plan for community service/outreach. Imagine several high school kids, or a small group, or the worship team getting together to plan a specific outreach event or series of events. It could be gas for a lawnmower to mow lawns in one neighborhood, or for bottles of water to hand out at a community event, or to rent a space for a prayer tent at the local Farmer’s Market.

I would love to hear if anyone is doing something like this in their church. Do you have any tips or pointers for us? What should we avoid? Do you have any suggestions of how people might use a $50 grant to conduct some community service/outreach?

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