My new favorite Signature Participation Project of all time

Our Mission Increase Foundation free workshop/lab sequence for August/September is Marketing Your Ministry. (If you haven’t attended yet, do make sure to sign up now.)

One of the core concepts of the workshop is that in Transformational Giving, marketing is actually not the work of the nonprofit. Instead, it’s something we mentor our O-level champions to do as they spread the cause in their sphere of influence, recruiting new P-level champions for the cause.

The Signature Participation Project is the vehicle for that to happen. Typically we (the nonprofit) create it as a tool for our O-level champions, but they’re the ones who execute it largely on their own.

For a fuller explanation of what a Signature Participation Project is, and to learn about my former favorite Signature Participation Project, click here.

But let me tell you about my new favorite Signature Participation Project:

Secret Church.

The brainchild of David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, Secret Church received a nice send-up in a Christianity Today post this week.

It’s well worth letting Pastor Platt set this up at length:

We have severely dumbed down the Word, and shown a lack of trust in the sufficiency of the Word in the way we preach. We find it necessary to supplement it with entertaining stories and quips or good practical advice for living the Christian life that are not based in the Word. This deficiency transfers into people content with a little “Word for the Day,” in a devotional book at best, as opposed to deep knowledge of Scripture.

We’re trying to hit at the problem from a variety of angles at Brook Hills. First of all, in worship we’re quoting the Word, singing the Word, and engaging in intensive study. We’ll study 55 minutes to an hour. We try to really saturate the community of faith with the Word when we gather together.

I go to other places, such as house churches in Asia, and they study for 11 or 12 hours, knowing they risk their lives. They’ll dive in deep. We came back and tried to do something similar here. We call it secret church and do it a couple times a year. We gather together for intensive study with no frills, nothing flashy, no entertainment value. The first time, about 1,000 showed up. We studied Old Testament overview from 6 p.m. to midnight, but usually it goes longer, supplemented by times in prayer for the persecuted church. It’s all ages, but the predominant demographic is college students and young singles. It’s grown to the point where we need to offer tickets at $5 for reservations and the cost of a study guide. We’ll do it again in October with 2,500 folks. It’s theological in nature. We’ve done a night on the Atonement, another on the doctrine of God. This time we’re doing spiritual warfare. It’s one of my favorite sights as a pastor to look out at 12:30 a.m. and see a room full of 2,500 people, their Bibles open, soaking it in.

Think of it like this:

How do you grow people in the cause of Hebrews 13:3, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering”?

Obviously it’s helpful to hear and read the testimonies of persecuted Christians. But Secret Church takes things one step further.

Through Secret Church–the simple act of gathering under cover of darkness for extended Bible study, punctuated by periods of prayer for the Persecuted Church around the world–participants participate in an act of solidarity with the Persecuted Church, namely, gathering together for intensive study and prayer.

From the Secret Church website:

When we think of “church” in America, we think of going to meet at a building, singing, praying and hearing a message from a Pastor or teacher. But in many places around the world, “church” meets in a home, an apartment, even in secret. These small groups of Christ-followers often meet for many hours in study, prayer and fellowship, as it is dangerous to travel to “church” and they want to make the most of their time together.

Best of all, though the Secret Church webpage credits Open Doors, one of the largest and most prominent nonprofits associated with ministry to the Persecuted Church, Secret Church is clearly not an event to promote Open Doors. In fact, the site links to a total of nine Persecuted Church ministries (the only one missing there is Seoul USA!).

Sum it up and say:

  • Here’s a Signature Participation Project (SPP) that beautifully and brilliantly advances the cause and gives people a real sense of participation in it.
  • The church is an Owner of the cause of Persecuted Church ministry. They’re doing this SPP. All the nonprofits related to Persecuted Church Ministry are part of the stage…not the actors.
  • The SPP itself is a deepening of, not a deviation from the church’s core ministry of taking the Word seriously and engaging with it deeply.
  • The whole thing is about fidelity to scripture, not just creative marketing.

An absolutely flawless SPP, with the church at the center of it all. Imagine!

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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6 Responses to My new favorite Signature Participation Project of all time

  1. Jesse says:

    So…who wants to start one of these in Colorado Springs?

  2. Jesse says:

    I knew that was coming!

  3. Pingback: The philanthropic key: transform your champion, not the packaging of your ask « Transformational Giving

  4. Pingback: Notes in the key of E: Engagement as the sine qua non of Transformational Giving « Transformational Giving

  5. Pingback: The best TG organization you’ve never heard of that has never heard of TG « Transformational Giving

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