Home Equipping Leaders Stewardship Six Mission Projects Any Church Can Adopt in 2023

Six Mission Projects Any Church Can Adopt in 2023

By Ken Sloane

Mission Projects Article

“Nothing is more important for inspiring your congregation to greater generosity than telling the stories of where your church is making an impact!”

I make this statement (in some form or another) in almost all the webinars and workshops I lead, and recently prominently in the online course “Creating a Narrative Budget: The Stories Behind the Numbers.” I can illustrate this in examples from the worldwide church, with stories about the “Imagine No Malaria” work begun a few years back that is still saving lives on the continent of Africa. I love to share the story of Africa University, which recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, with more than 10,000 graduates from thirty-five countries in Africa. However, I can’t tell the stories of where your local church has made an impact in your community. Only you are able to find and tell those stories. What we often don’t realize is that there are mission projects in which your church can participate without booking travel or having to get participants’ shots up to date.

“Nothing is more important for inspiring your congregation to greater generosity than telling the stories of where your church is making an impact!”

I’m talking about the six Special Sundays that are celebrated by congregations of The United Methodist Church. If your church is participating in these Sundays, then your church is affecting many lives. These are great stories of impact that your church can claim. If you haven’t been participating fully, there is no better time to get involved!

Preparing to participate in these six Special Sundays is easy because there are bountiful resources available to help you communicate these mission endeavors to your congregation!

The United Methodist Church has designated these Sundays as worthy of including a special offering that is used to support outreach in particular settings with particular needs. In some cases, the offering is distributed churchwide and administered by a general agency of the United Methodist Church. In other cases, a portion of the offering is administered by the annual conference in which the offering is received.

Each special Sunday has a Pastor and Leader Kit that includes a clear and concise overview of the Sunday’s focus and mission impact. The leader kits include resources such as:

  • Worship aids (liturgy, sermon ideas, offering talks, special offering envelopes)
  • Interpretive pieces (bulletin inserts, pew cards, sample emails)
  • Social media pieces (graphics for Facebook or Instagram, short videos)
  • Resources in a variety of languages

In the list of the six Special Sundays below, click on the name of the Special Sunday to access the Pastor and Leader Kit page for that Sunday.

Your church can set the goal now to participate in each of these Sundays with churchwide offerings, and it could also go the “second mile” and discern a way to celebrate these special Sundays in a local way that will have an impact on the community! As we look at each of these Special Sundays, let’s imagine some possibilities!


Celebrated on the Sunday before the national observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Human Relations Day is a time to highlight the social justice commitment of The United Methodist Church and to partner in supporting outreach to underserved communities in the United States. Gifts to the Human Relations Day offering support community developers and community advocacy through the United Methodist Voluntary Services administered through the General Board of Global Ministries. These gifts support at-risk youth through the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program administered by the General Board of Church and Society. Our support over the years has changed the lives of people in underserved communities and has supported and promoted ministries that respond to nonviolent youth offenders and community advocacy.

IDEA FOR LOCAL PROJECTS: Identify a public area in your community – a park or a public school – that needs sprucing up. An area where lower-income housing is provided might be a good place to look. After talking with officials and getting permission to rake, clean, paint, or repair, get the word to local residents to join the church for a day to make the neighborhood safer and more attractive


UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) Sunday is a time to give gifts that provide help and hope during times of disasters, whether those are famine, hurricane, war, flood, fire, or other challenges. Your gifts through this special offering support UMCOR’s cost of doing business. This helps UMCOR keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs. UMCOR has no source of income for sustaining administration except through gifts to the UMCOR Sunday offering.

IDEA FOR LOCAL PROJECT: Gather supplies and help assemble UMCOR Flood Buckets or Health Kits so they are ready for immediate distribution when disaster strikes.


This Special Sunday honors the gifts and contributions of Native Americans. Your gifts provide scholarships for Native American seminary students and support grassroots work within Native American churches and Native American outreach ministries in annual conferences. “For hundreds of years, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, compelled by the gospel, have chosen to become disciples of Jesus Christ. In doing so, we have affirmed that relationship with God and our brothers and sisters is contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We bear witness to the mercy of God through our faith, continuing in discipleship and ministry.” (From 2016 Book of Resolutions, #3321)

IDEA FOR LOCAL PROJECT: Identify a Native American community near your church, if possible, to see if there are projects that your congregation might be able to adopt, or contact your annual conference to invite a Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) leader to speak at your church.


On Peace with Justice Sunday, we partner with other United Methodist congregations in a special offering to support advocacy around the world. Together, we strengthen God’s creation with ministries that challenge structures of inequality. The offering is administered by the General Board of Church and Society and benefits peace with justice ministries in the conference and half supports the work of Church and Society globally. The United Methodist Church, the world, and our communities are in a time of transition. Now, perhaps more than ever, we are called to be part of extending healing and hope. Through our gifts and support, we partner with God and God’s people to strengthen Christ’s loving presence in a hurting world.

IDEA FOR LOCAL PROJECT: Contact your annual conference office and inquire how the portion of the Peace with Justice offering that stays in your conference is used to support local ministries. That might give you an idea of someone who could come and speak or give your church an idea for a project it could fund with those offerings.


Through the World Communion Sunday special offering, we partner with other UMC congregations to support young adults and make a global impact for Christ. Half of the offering benefits World Communion scholarships for graduate students from the U.S. and other countries. The remainder assists in providing ethnic scholarships for U.S. and international undergraduate students in the U.S. and Ethnic In-Service Training. These funds are administered by the general boards of Higher Education and Ministry and Global Ministries. World Communion Sunday gives your church the opportunity to partner with “vision bearers and dream casters” like Sibanda Esina who has been blessed with a World Communion scholarship to help her attain her master’s degree in special needs education, with a specialty in hearing and speech impairment education.

IDEA FOR LOCAL PROJECT: This is a wonderful day to plan a combined day of worship and celebration with another congregation in your community – one with a different ethnicity or that worships in a different language. What could be more appropriate than a bilingual worship service on World Communion Sunday? If this idea works, be sure to plan early to ensure that the cultures and traditions of both congregations can be included and respected. If not a worship service, maybe a fun gathering after church can be offered!


Gifts to the United Methodist Student Day offering support undergraduate and graduate college students. Your local church will be supporting scholarships for students who are poised to become the next generation of leaders in the church and the world. We all have experienced challenges in recent years. Students have been dealing with grief and loss at a tender moment in their development. Many have also shown resilience and a strong spirit. Together, we can express our care for them in practical ways. We can equip them to shape a future with hope and possibility.

IDEA FOR LOCAL PROJECT: This Special Sunday is the easiest: make this a day when you honor and encourage your students. United Methodist Student Day usually falls on Thanksgiving weekend, so give a special invitation to college students to come to church. Celebrate them and give them an opportunity to share what they are studying. This is a visual demonstration of your church’s impact. You might even ask some of them if they want to share their “best memory” of the church, Sunday school, or the youth group. If you don’t have any students in your congregation, this Sunday could be a good day to recognize and celebrate your teachers!

Be sure to document your local project to celebrate and remind your congregation of the impact your church is making, near and far. Use the resources provided on the special Sunday web pages to not only get your people engaged, but also to let your community know you are doing exciting things and focusing not just on the people sitting in your pews, but on the world beyond your walls!

Ken Sloane is the Director of Stewardship & Generosity for Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.

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