Last week I attended a dinner at a church where Danny and Kathy Dickriede told their story. Kathy is a Deacon and on the staff at Mentor. The Dickriedes have committed much of the last three years to missionary work in Africa with a great deal of 2009 in Liberia at Camphor Mission Station.
Here at the Foundation we have a significant endowment that supports Camphor and I have been generally aware of their work. But hearing it first hand from people who went there, served and have a passion for the place and the work is something different.
You can preach about missions all you want to. But that kind of personal story telling is so very effective.
Oprah Winfrey says that people will change what they do not because of what they know, but because of what they feel. Anybody want to argue with Oprah?
This fall, make your congregation feel the church.
I spent a dozen years working for Health and Welfare Agencies of the Conference. I can tell you that the biggest challenge in that work was being able to tell the story. In those years I don’t believe I ever turned down an opportunity to preach, speak at a potluck or a UMW meeting. I met with youth groups, missions committees and even rogue couples who were trying to get a mission movement started in their church.
I would bet that any organization that is supported by the United Methodist Church would come to your place to tell the story, to tell your members how lives are being changed in your county, your region and the world because of their gifts.
They’ll let your members feel the church.
There are some United Methodists who get very excited that their financial commitments support the copier contract and the pastor’s health insurance. But far more will be excited that they are helping the people of Camphor dig wells in surround communities to provide the only clean water a generation of villagers have ever known, or that midwives receive the first real medical training they have ever had because of the church.
Or they may be spurred to action when they find out a girl from Mentor collected 1,000 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste so children wouldn’t have to clean their teeth with a finger dipped into the ash of a cooking fire.
There are two realities at work here. First, people want and need to feel the church. And second, we have a church worth feeling.
Get a speaker scheduled and let the church be felt.