At one point in time, I was part of a 30 Hour Famine event that yielded one of the highest fundraising totals in the country. Do you want to know what the secret to our success was? It was pretty simple actually: rather than do the Famine on our own, we partnered with other churches in the area to one big, joint Famine together. Through this simple partnership, we have seen a number of really awesome benefits to our ministries, students and our county.
First, partnering has allowed small churches to have a “big” feel. Now, we all argue in ministry over the value of “numbers.” Having a big group doesn’t mean a successful event in and of it self. However, more students do mean more energy and the benefit of feeling part of something much bigger than yourself. Doing the Famine together meant having hundreds of teens together, which created an environment with even more excitement, it created a healthy competitive spirit, which spurred our fundraising goals upward, and it made it easier for students to invite non-church friends to be involved.
Second, partnering has helped us make the programming better. One youth pastor can’t do it all and can’t connect with every kid. But working together helped considerably with making the Famine be far better than it would have been to do it on our own. The partnership allowed each church and youth worker to really focus on the programming elements they do really well and know someone else was tackling the stuff that doesn’t come as easy. We also had some ideas come out of the planning meetings simply because of the different perspectives that were at the table that never would have come up planning on our own.
Third, we’ve seen more carry over after the event was over! This is always one of the most difficult pieces to a big event like this: what’s the after effect for our students and was it worth all the time and effort of the event itself? Partnering together on the Famine has been a huge benefit to seeing our students get more out of the event itself. First, as mentioned above, the energy and excitement of a much larger event has been a big factor in this. Second, being exposed to more perspectives and ideas from different teens and leaders they are not normally around has been another. And third, it’s actually helped our students connect with other Christian at their schools who attend different churches. It’s so much fun to watch teens make the realization that there are other Christians at their schools that they weren’t aware about before hand.
Fourth, and lastly, the joint Famine has helped spur our network to do more together. Since that 30 Hour Famine, we’ve had joint worship nights and events to get all our students get back together. A large part of that was because our students were begging to be together again since they loved the energy at the Famine. We developed an annual day of service to clean up a local park together and are discussing a joint mission trip as well. We also have a number of us joining up for a Winter Retreat together too. It’s amazing what can happen when the Church starts to work together and with so many churches doing the 30 Hour Famine already, it’s a great place to start!