Last night my church held its annual World Missions Conference, which intends to introduce and inform the congregation about the missionaries and missions ministries the church directly supports and encourage us to get more directly involved in this field. In five years, this is only the second Missions Conference I’ve attended — not because I don’t want to know about or support missions work, but because, shamefully, my selfish, quotidian concerns have placed it on the level of “general apathy.”
The last Missions Conference attended was well-organized and straightforward. Missionaries and ministries had their booths, and there were several get-to-know-you breakfasts and presentations. It was all important but, as you might imagine, a little staid.
This time around there was much more hoopla around the Missions Conference. Some of it had to do with the excitement around the new Vision Statement of the church. Some of it had to do with its assertive promotion from the pulpit. But a good deal of it came from its new interactive format: Missionopoly.
The board game Monopoly has probably been co-opted for marketing and educational purposes in thousands of different ways — and for good reason. It’s a familiar brand with easily recognizable and duplicable symbols; it’s fundamental concept is simple and readily grasped; and it’s all about exploration and acquisition. It was perfect, really.
Here’s how Missionopoly worked:
- You had to sign up in teams of 5 or 6. Kids were welcome to participate, and entire families were encouraged to sign up. If you did not have a team, you were assigned to one.
- Each team received a game board, and a bag. (The game board, by the way, looked stupendous).
- Every missionary and ministry had its own booth spread out over two separate floors. In addition, there were several “fun” booths that dealt with aspects of world missions and missions work. Each booth was represented as a square on the game board.
- Each team must travel together to various booths. Each booth had a task to complete. Many of the informational booths had a basket of slips of questions, and the team had to randomly pick three of the questions to ask. Some of the booths had questions that the team had to answer. There were booths that had mini-games of Jeopardy and Snakes and Ladders. There were booths that required you to sample food or drink. There were booths with arts and crafts activities. There was a booth where the group had to take a “passport” photo. Your group also received credit for dressing in the costume of a foreign country. Your group might also be nabbed by the “Secret Police” to be interrogated and watch a video on the persecuted church (the “jail” block on the game board).
- After completing the task at a booth, the group receives a sticker on its game board. The bag was for collecting flyers and handouts from the different booths.
- Every group that collected a certain number of stickers qualified for a random drawing for some gift basket prizes at the end of the evening.
It was really a smashing success. I’ve never seen a Missions Conference better attended and with more enthusiasm. It was wonderful to see kids and families especially come and enjoy and learn. It was wonderful to pastors and deacons in a relaxed and less formal context with their families. People came in colorful costumes, Pastor Ryken cracked jokes with the missionaries, and we got to know new people from the church along with the rest of it. It was really a lot of fun.
I’m going to have to steal this idea sometime.