The mission fair can be a one-time presentation with a few well-designed displays and handouts or a full-blown celebration with food booths and live music. Your planning team will discover all kinds of exciting ways to show that your congregation is making a difference around the world.
Start Early Begin planning two or three months ahead. This gives you time to get people of all ages and backgrounds involved in many creative ways.
Form a Planning Team Invite people from across the congregation to join your team. Appoint a chair and make sure the pastor is on board. Don’t forget young people – they have lots of fresh ideas and energy!
Set the date, location and time for your fair Think about whether you will hold your fair inside or outdoors, in one location or several throughout the church building. Consider if the event should take place after worship or during the week.
Decide on the format of the event Choose whether to hold one large festival of information, celebration and invitation or to feature a series of mini-festivals following worship over several weeks.
Review your church’s ministry Decide on which areas to celebrate and showcase, these could include: local outreach ministries your church supports financially or with donations of food, space or volunteer time; local and global mission programs your church supports. You may wish to include a separate display for each country or ministry; seminary training your congregation supports; outreach made possible by your staff; curriculum used to teach adults and children; worship and praise ministry; caring ministries like counseling, and visitation.
Assign responsibilities Once you have a list of mission projects you want to promote, assign a person or group to be responsible for the display of each mission. Invite other organizations related to your church to prepare and bring their own displays telling who they are and what they do. (Give them clear instructions about size and space, including where their display will be located and what the size of the table will be. Communicate instructions to displayers have them set up their display at least an hour ahead of your event.
Publicize, Publicize, Publicize Have a “wordsmith” person on your committee write a lively text for newsletter, bulletin boards, printed flyers and bulletins to invite everyone to your mission fair. Send a letter of invitation announcing and explaining the event to every household in the congregation.
Make it a multi- sensory experience Be sure your fair has many ways people can touch and feel, hear and taste ministry: offer foods from various countries, have participants dress in costume or make a craft. Many photos of good quality that are enlarged and colorful will draw people in. Use the internet and video for enlivening your space. Offer a skit or improvisational theater production. Play music CDs form other countries. Use ethnic tablecloths, and demonstrate ethnic dances for people to try.
Just for Kids --
Chalk it up Supply the children with sidewalk chalk to draw pictures of the mission work your church is doing. Have them draw on the sidewalk or in the parking lot for all to see. Ask the adults to pray for the mission work they see in the drawings.
All aboard Take the children on a tour of the church and have people from the secretary to the maintenance person to the pastor talk about what they do. Lead the children in giving a cheer for all the ways people help others.
Many breads, one people Bring different kinds of bread for the children or all to taste, and connect with the places our congregation is in mission. You might have the children make a simple bread and bake it to share.
Tell all about it Invite a person who is a good speaker and has volunteered in mission to tell the children some stories.
Hands on Have the children examine a useful common item from another country, such as a gourd from Africa. Have children decorate their own gourds with markers.
Where in the world Use a large wall map or globe to locate the places your church and denomination are in mission on a globe or large wall map, or use the Global Ministries placemat. Show interesting photos related to each area.
Creative play Using a pile of material destined for recycling, have the children create toys. Explain that in many places these are the only playthings available for play.
Keep them warm Have the children create a clanked out of fleece to donate to a local homeless shelter.
Please say thank you Be sure to say thank you to every person who helped make the fair possible. Thank the people who attend too. Write notes, praise people publicly, and clap your hands for a job well done!
(Based on the Ecumenical Stewardship Center resources. )