Think back to the most recent time your church had a project or event where things went exceedingly better than anyone dreamed possible. Certainly God was blessing the efforts so as to create a phenomenon known as synergy.
Synergy is when the contributions of various members join together to create results that are more than the sum of the individual contributions.
To help make the connection, think about some of these examples. Your church decides to conduct a local mission project like “River of Life” or “Operation Christmas Child,” or to offer a gift to the community like “Drive-by Nativity.” By all accounts this is a huge project. Some would call it a God-sized assignment. The project leaders know this is so big they will need every member to participate.
Leaders sell the idea of the project. The recruitment of volunteers and resources begins. Small groups reach out to other small groups within the congregation to access every available resource.
Often, things start slowly as people warm up to the idea. Individuals must decide whether they will rearrange life to participate. Slowly, momentum begins to build. Preparations are made for every foreseeable aspect of the project.
Then the event day arrives. There is a touch of chaos as things are launched, but as the event unfolds people each begin to see the benefit of working together. Sure enough this project was too big for the original dreamers. And, sure enough, the outcome is off the chart. Huge! Among the volunteers there is a buzz of satisfaction and amazement. The outcome far exceeds anything they could have accomplished if the original small group carried out the plan by themselves. That is synergy!
At this June’s South Georgia Annual Conference session we will have another opportunity to manifest the benefits of synergy. A small group suggested that we do something about the malaria epidemic in Africa. The Annual Conference Session Program Committee approved the project to be this year’s special mission offering.
The project is called Imagine No Malaria. While malaria has been practically eradicated in the United States, it is still ravaging the continent of Africa. Ninety percent (90%) of the deaths caused by malaria occur in Africa, where the disease is the leading killer among children. One in five deaths among children under the age of five are caused by malaria.
Every 45 seconds a child in Africa dies from malaria. Can you wrap your mind around that reality? This is sad beyond words because malaria is a preventable and treatable disease.
Think about it this way – for just $10 a treated bed net can be provided that will prevent deaths. How many bed nets will South Georgia be able to provide? Can we generate enough offering to supply 10,000 nets? That is about 1,100 nets per district. That seems doable – when you think about it that way.
We are inviting each congregation to take up an offering to bring to Annual Conference. Our combined gifts will be joined with other United Methodists from across the world to make a difference.
Looking at church bulletins and websites, I can already see that churches are taking up offerings. Local churches are conducting special events (like 5K walk/runs, car washes, fish dinners, etc.) to educate people about the need and to give people a chance to give. Momentum is slowly building! We are just a couple of weeks away from conference. How many nets will your church provide?
I know God is at work stirring the hearts of South Georgia United Methodists. I expect momentum to continue building even as we gather in Tifton. I am already anticipating what it will look like at conference when the totals are announced. I am bracing myself for a surprise because I know the exponential impact of synergy that occurs when we join forces.
See you in Tifton.
Dr. Brad Brady is the Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries.