I found a binder in my office today from when I first started leading local missions. What memories it brings back! It is a binder that outlines how the Lord led me to start local missions with a church of only a few hundred attenders to how we evolved local missions as we grew to 6,000 attenders.
I was the Local Missions and Equip to Serve Director of The Crossing Church for six years. Just a year and a half ago God called me to use my talents at Meet The Need. The Crossing Church is still growing with 8,000 attendees and 4 campuses. They were even noted as one of the “100 Fastest Growing Churches” by Outreach Magazine for the past several years. I lead, with much equipping from the Lord, from having no local missions to having a core team of over 100 leaders leading projects of thousands of volunteers throughout the year.
I would like to share with you a my background of how little I knew about leading local missions at a mega church. However God was preparing me before I even walked with Him to bring me to the point I am now in equipping hundreds of churches in leading their congregations to serve the needs of others through Meet The Need. If God can use little me, he can use little you too!
God really knows what He is doing when He weaves into us a passion to do His will. It all started when I was in middle school. I went to church on Sundays, but didn’t know what it meant to pray to God from my heart, to seek God with open eyes, nor to listen to God for direction in my life.
Even though I wasn’t seeking Him yet, God had placed in my heart a desire to lead others to serve people in need. I served in the community through clubs like Future Business Leaders, National Honor Society, Key Club, etc. Most of the leaders of those clubs contacted me when they wanted to take a group to serve in the community, because I kept up with what was happening at the local homeless shelter, thrift store, professional services organizations, etc. Keep in mind this was before personal computers, spreadsheets, and email. It was all done by paper and phone.
I went to college and lead masses of volunteers to serve in the community. I was the president of the largest Circle K Club in the world (Circle K is the college level of Key Club and Kiwanis). With a leadership team of 10, we lead over 500 students to complete 20+ hours a month in acts of service for the community. That’s over 10,000 hours of service a month doing things like . . .
- tutoring less fortunate students in after school programs
- organizing fun events for the patients in a mental health facility
- encouraging handicapped children at a local school
- visiting troubled youth in a group home for game night
- being company to lonely elderly people at a nursing home
- beautifying a non-profit’s grounds
- taking the blind grocery shopping
- taking meal to shut-ins
- starting a reading and music program for a local elementary school
- teaching personal finance to those with financial struggles
- conducting computer learning sessions for the “computer challenged”
- tutoring for the adults earning their GED
These projects plus more were active each week for students to get involved and serve directly with those in need. All that was needed was a sacrifice of a little time and an offering of a skill or passion to make a difference in a big way. How blessed I was to meet my husband (of now 15 years) as one of the leaders of Circle K. God wove our common passion of serving others together. This picture is of us serving disabled adults at a local nursing home (we are the two to the far right standing up).
After college my career lead me to corporate accounting/finance in the banking industry (SunTrust Bank) and then to B2B ecommerce for credit analysis (Verizon). After work and on the weekends, I served faithfully in the community through professional organizations like Junior League, Kiwanis, Junior Achievement, etc. Leading new projects like the Career Readiness Program for women in the community trying to provide stability for their family.
I hope you are seeing a pattern here of God preparing me to lead hundreds as a local missions director of a mega church. Although while I was living it, I didn’t see it at all. It was 7 more years before I recognized my need for a Savior and was called to use my experiences, abilities, passions, and gifts to serve the Kingdom of God.
Over the coming weeks I will share with you the timeline, resources, and tools I used to build the “Jerusalem” missions team (as described in Acts 1:8) as found in the binder I came across today. Things like the following I pray will be a blessing to you . . .
- How to find needs in your community – who to partner with
- Service project ideas for individuals, families, and small groups
- A checklist for planning an event
- Specific ways to serve a low income apartment complex
- Coordinator roles and responsibilities
- Budgets for special events and on-going projects
- Ideas to serve various people groups (military, children, women, elderly, low-income, etc)
- Agenda for a “Day of Service” at your church
- Guidelines for approving a new project
- Organizational chart of an Acts 1:8 missions team
- Project/Partner evaluation form
Will you join me?
Tonya Nichols, Member Service Director of Meet The Need