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Amy Shreve

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Do you have a new idea for ministry, but need the money to get it off the ground? Think about writing a grant to get it started.
Grants for innovative ministry ideas are out there and could really change your ministry and impact.

I recommend getting a team together to help you write a grant. The first step is to know your problem and clearly state your need. Then, design a program that addresses that need.

Once you have that basic information, you can look for potential funders and determine who might fund your program. That’s where grants come in.  Grants can be competitive and specific, so look local and national. Get to know the funder, give them a call and ask what type of projects they fund. Be sure your project fits the funder. Review the application or the questions the funder asks. Then begin writing the grant.

These are some online resources that will help you understand the typical application process:

Here are a few grants available for United Methodist-Affiliated ministries:

 

Grant

Description

Open for Applications

Deadline

Website

UMC Young People

Creative approaches to ministry with, for, and by young people

 

June 1

https://umcyoungpeople.org/grants-scholarships#Grants%20for%20Ministries

UMC Collegiate / Rule 2

Various size grants and purposes from student initiated, continued program support, and innovative ideas

January

March 14

http://umcollegiate.org/initiatives/grants-scholarships/

Young Clergy Initiative

assist young people to listen, discern, respond well to God’s calling

January

March

http://www.explorecalling.org/yci/grant/

Youth Service Fund

project must involve youth in all aspects of the ministry.  Youth ages 12-18, up to 24 for international projects

January

June 1

http://youthservicefund.org/grant-applications/

 

In  addition to these high-level grants, many conferences have funds available either through grants or scholarships that can help you fund similar projects, and even help you send students to camps or retreats who cannot afford it. Simply call your conference office and ask for the information!

“It will all be good when we get on the road.”  This is my mantra in the months and weeks leading up to the high school mission trip.  Once we’re on the road, everyone is present, the paperwork is in, fundraising done, teams assigned, and hopefully my towel and extra contacts are packed.  And it is all good. We see God’s love embodied in those we work for and with. We see adults and students creating lifelong relationships. We see God speaking to students through people, work, and worship.  

Start with Questions

But how do we get there?  There are so many places and people asking for help and so many groups sending you information. Where do you start in planning a mission trip?  I start by asking a few questions to identify what’s most important for the mission experience, both for me, the leader, the adult volunteers, and the students.

  • Why are we going? Are we looking for a mission trip focused on evangelism, repair work, an opportunity for student to grow in faith and leadership?  Do we want a trip that encourages relationship building and cultural understanding?
  • What type of experience do we want?  All-inclusive or do it yourself? Urban or rural? Domestic or international? Denominational or non/interdenominational?   
  • How are we preparing?  What is the pre-trip need for fundraising, skills building, cross-cultural understanding?  The answer could add more time and demands before the trip.

Consider Partnering

There are no right answers to any of these questions.  Once you ask some of these questions, talk to people. Ask about other churches’ experiences.  If it’s your first trip or you have a small group, think about joining another church group. When I led my first trip with Appalachia Service Project, it was invaluable to have a more experienced group walk with us through the deadlines and preparations.  And there was a year I had one youth committed to our mission trip. We joined another church to make it cost-effective and more fun.

Brainstorm your Options

  1. Global Young People Mission Site

Ready to brainstorm options?  Global Young People has a great place to start Here you can sort through 65 United Methodist mission sites for location, mission work, price, and age level.  

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?  It’s not an exhaustive list,but a great place to start! Here are a couple of places I have been:

  1. Motown Mission

This is United-Methodist based urban work mission experience in Detroit.  They provide lodging, food, organized work, worship, and reflection on the economic state of Detroit.  There is free time to explore Detroit and attend a Tigers game. I helped with an urban garden.

  1. Appalachia Service Project

This is a ministry to make homes warmer, safer and drier in Appalachia.  They provide pre-trip study sessions to understand culture and home repairs as well as lodging, food, organized worksites, worship, and reflection on Appalachian culture.  There is an emphasis on building relationships with the family each group is serving alongside and students volunteers are asked to lead morning devotions. ASP takes a lot of pre-trip planning, which is worth it.  If it’s your first year, talk to ASP about finding a church near you to help you get started.

  1. Creating your own

I wanted to balance our mission trip experiences.  High school youth had a tradition of serving with Appalachia Service Project.  So the I had flexibility to plan a middle school mission trip to an urban area.  I called the neighboring United Methodist Conference office and asked about churches or mission opportunities in Indianapolis.  We found Fletcher Place Community Center that welcomed our 6-8 grade students for two days of cleaning, food sorting, and clothes hanging.  Then, I called UM churches nearby to inquire about lodging. We slept on the floor, had shower and kitchen access.  Part of the youth’s responsibilities for the week were meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and dishes. It was inexpensive and more logistical work but a great fit for our youth and goals.  We returned several years.

 

For further thoughts and resources on mission trips check out this incredible article at the Fuller Youth Institute.

 

May God be with you as you plan, learn, and serve!

 

Lent is 40 days, to mark the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness praying and fasting.  Lent is a soul cleansing, challenging time.  To help youth understand and live into Lent, we explore the practices of prayer and fasting in new ways.

One of my favorite ways is to schedule a retreat focused on fasting and serving.  If you’re looking for help, World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine.  https://www.30hourfamine.org  is great.  I appreciated the accountability and programming ideas World Vision provided.    

My youth have Good Friday off of school.  We take advantage of this and begin our time together with Maundy Thursday worship and conclude after Good Friday worship.  Talk about an attendance spike at Holy Week services!

Whether you have time for a retreat or not, here are some ideas to explore spiritual disciplines and focus on Holy Week. We alternate spending time in sacred reflection and active service.  

Explore poverty, homelessness, and hunger issues while fasting.  

  • Take public transit to the grocery store and buy meals on a WIC budget. (we donated the purchased food to a local agency)  
  • Talk with women, men, or children staying at an emergency shelter and assembled dignity kits.  
  • Make cardboard shelters and sleep outside.

Here are some more  ideas from our 30 Hour Famine:

  • Host an all-church 24-hour Easter prayer vigil (we easily fill the early morning slots)
  • Use prayer stations to walk through the Lord’s Prayer or stations of the cross.
  • Spend extended time in quiet (try 30 minutes).  
  • Invite a pastor to share communion with your youth.  It can be a great time to really explore what the liturgy of the Great Thanksgiving means.  

Other Ways to Fast from Food:  

Sometimes people have concerns about fasting for teens especially if they are taking medicine, etc.  here’s a couple of ways to approach it without eliminating food altogether:

  • Bread and water fast:  only consume simple bread and water
  • Juice/liquid fast:  Only consume liquid versions of nourishment
  • Food I hate:  To let go of the pleasure of eating and the desire, only offer foods a student dislikes
  • Half portions:  exactly that.  Half the amount they normally consume.

My favorite resources for ideas to help youth and adults grow in spiritual disciplines are Richard J. Foster’s Celebration of Disciplinesand Way To Live: Christian Practices for Teens edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter.  There are study guides available for both books.  Way to Live’s study guide is a free download found here: http://www.practicingourfaith.org/sites/default/files/WTL-LG_110504_000.pdf

 

I want to be perfect. I want to do the right thing. I want to say the perfect thing that is both up-lifting and life changing. And when I don’t, which is most of the time, I relive the moment wondering why I was inactive, judgmental, or ineffective.

Because of this desire to be perfect and knowledge that I’m not, I am acutely aware of the need for a community to help me be a better minister, leader, parent. I also appreciate resources that are written with abundant grace and compassion. Not “you must do this to have an impact for Christ” but “God is big, here’s a wide target to aim for.”

I have found The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara E. Powell to be a great resource in my ministry and in my family. It’s a follow-up resource to a study conducted by Fuller Youth Institute to discover the steps that churches and families could take to help set young people on a trajectory of lasting faith. It boils down to ways to surround young people with relationships that help them see, experience, and talk about Christ and their own life’s value.

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family is a resource to put in parent’s hands to encourage intentional and faithful memories and conversations. It’s a resource to help grandparents and senior adults to brainstorm meaningful ways they can be in relationship with young people, and it’s a resource to explore ways to prepare high school students to find a faith home of their own.

In practice, our church creates opportunities for “Sticky Faith” by hosting family mini-sessions during the summer instead of Vacation Bible School. Families share a meal together and then while kids have a lesson, parents meet to explore how holidays can be sacred time. The high school seniors have adult mentors who attend special life-skills workshops together during youth group.

And at home, I have incorporated daily conversations of grace and forgiveness with my children and spouse. We pray over our Christmas cards from November until Easter. I passed on the grandparent chapter to our parents and encouraged them to pray with and for my children as well as share their faith journey.

I know all of these things could and do happen without Sticky Faith, but for me, I need that graceful reminder and ideas to perk my own brainstorming.

Check out https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/stickyfaith for many great resources and blog posts.