June 10, 2010

The F.I.T. Challenge

For over a year now, Bishop Trimble has been talking about the F.I.T. Challenge.  And I think tonight, for the first time, I really understood how genius this very simple, simple concept is.

F.I.T. stands for Focus, Invest, and Tell.  It is the overarching framework for ministry in Iowa. I don't have the brochure and all the details with me, but basically, we can't do everything so we need to focus in on what is important, get people to invest their time and talents into it, and then above all, tell the stories of Jesus and transformed lives.

It also very nicely fits into a conference focus on health and wellness - especially for our clergy.  At conference this year, two men got up and shared their stories about how they were inspired by the F.I.T. challenge to lose weight and one lost 75 lbs in a year and the other lost 150!  Now that was some focus, investment into their health, and then some wonderful witnessing!

Tonight, at a mission team meeting, we were all over the place trying to figure out what our next projects should be.  One person on the team brought up how nice it would be to FOCUS on one project and really make it come alive as a congregation.  I think in the end, we decided that focusing on smaller projects, but one per month might be a more suitable option for where our church is right now... although I think in a year or two, also having one big project that we can continually support would be wonderful.

Anywho... One of the other suggestions this new team member had was that we should have a mission celebration and TELL the stories of what we have done so far this year. 

Our conference has this thing called Rainbow Covenant.  Churches are encouraged to give in mission - first by paying their apportionments, and then by supporting general categories of mission.  To be a 2nd mile giver, we are asked to give to all seven categories of mission (each represented by a color of the rainbow). But do you think that we had taken the time to really explain this to the church?  Do you think that anyone beyond our mission team knew what we were doing with all of these different projects?  No. Not really.

Bishop Trimble's F.I.T. challenge teaches us that while having a focus is important, we also have to get people to invest in what we are doing.  And I think the number one way that we do that is by telling the story.  We have to show what a difference this ministry can make and then, we have to celebrate the ways we have been giving in mission.

In some ways we have done this already.  Our most successful mission projects have been the ones where we had a hands on connection.  We raised nearly $1500 for the Personal Energy Transportation (PET) Project... mostly because we actually brought in a PET and let people see it and rode it around during worship and had this huge connection with what the money would be used for.  We told the story.  And people were instantly invested.

So, out of our conversation tonight, we are going to create a yearly mission celebration Sunday where we lift up what we have been doing as a congregation.  And we are going to create a bulletin board that demonstrates our progress with the rainbow covenant and we are going to fill in the rainbow of colors with our mission giving money, with pictures and with stories of the projects we have worked on so far. 

I told a friend tonight that I feel like it was both a "lightbulb" moment and an  "I can't believe I'm so dumb as to not think of this before" moment.  While I had heard over and over and over again about the F.I.T. challenge, I don't think I thought to apply it to our church ministry.  But how simple is it to use in our mission team.  To lift up the focus projects, to help people invest, and to tell the stories of success and transformation.  And what if we did that with worship?  Focusing on God, investing our time and energy into helping people connect in new ways and helping them invest their time and energy, and telling the stories of Jesus?  or with our PPR?  Or education team? 

It's so simple. It's genius, really.

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