I can’t entirely explain this, but there is something about a hands-on project that is very helpful to churches undergoing a revitalization process.
Any church can benefit from a hands-on project, at just about any time, but the church which is involved in heaven-sent revitalization is especially blessed by such projects. A few examples follow:
- Painting the church building – I’ve been there and done that and gotten paint on my t-shirt
- Hosting a vacation Bible school, especially if it hasn’t been done for several years
- Work done on the home of a church member (or a non-church member) in need
- Moving the church to a new or different church building
- An evangelistic play or a Christmas or Easter program which is a major, church-wide event involving many people
- Putting a new roof on an older building – which gets very interesting on a 90 degree day
- Helping the new pastor move in (we had 45 people show up once – it was all done in an hour!)
- Even a church “work day,” if it’s enthusiastically participated in by the church’s leaders
Here are a few thoughts about the value of these events:
(1) There is something special that happens when people work together in an “all-hands-on-deck” fashion. I’ve seen this in a service club of which I was a member. I joined the club to work and boy did I ever! But work becomes fun when it’s done for a good cause with good people.
(2) The Spirit of God turns this enjoyable camaraderie into something very special: the New Testament calls it fellowship, variously described as “joint participation,” “getting together that makes us better,” “sharing with others that which God has given to us,” etc.
Churches that focus on “fellowship” as a major purpose (or even THE purpose) of the church are usually disappointed with the results. (Does your church have fellowship in its name?)
But churches which worship together, learn together, serve together and do physical work together, enjoy some wonderful fellowship in the process. It’s probably best understood as a “blessed by-product” of working together as the Body of Christ.
(3) Hands-on projects help congregations which need to “turn a corner” to begin a new chapter together. There’s something therapeutic about tearing down a wall, ripping off the old roofing, putting up the new sign, putting on the new color of paint or laying down the new floor.
(4) A one-time, hands-on project gives a congregation a chance to finish something and to do it together. I know that closure is over-rated, but there really is such a thing or we wouldn’t have the word in the English language.
The work of the Great Commission isn’t infinite, but it’s pretty close to it. In the work of making disciples, we never even get close to the proverbial “end of the beginning” or the “beginning of the end.” But we can finish the roofing project and even have a picnic lunch afterwards.
(5) Hands-on projects give men who are uncomfortable with “churchy work” the opportunity to do something with their hands. In many cases they’ve felt awkward and out of place in the church for years. The project finally gives them the chance to do something which they can do well.
(6) Hands-on projects should be undertaken one at a time. Don’t announce an ongoing campaign involving several projects. Start with one and learn the lessons you’ll need to learn about leadership, communication, coordination, etc. (BTW: There are some good lessons to be gleaned from the big project in the Book of Nehemiah.)
(7) Finally, hands-on projects give people the opportunity to get to know each other in new ways. People enjoy seeing the elders struggle awkwardly with tools they’ve never used. People love seeing the pastor with a paint-stained face and wearing paint-stained clothing. At last everybody learns that Thelma is highly skilled with a roller, Fred is an old hand with a nail gun and Steve is an expert at flooring.
If your congregation is in the midst of a revitalization – or even if it isn’t – think and pray about what might be gained by way of a hands-on project or two.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
- Has our church used hands-on projects in the past?
- Were they helpful to the morale of the congregation?
- Might our church benefit from a hands-on project done in the near future?
- Do we have appropriate projects that could be undertaken soon?
- Who can and will coordinate such a project?