How can you sustain a community project over time? Funding might be required. You might consider planning a “Miracle Sunday” offering in the worship service. This approach takes time—typically the plan takes twelve weeks if you want to do it well.
The Miracle Sunday approach utilizes a strategy found in a variety of annual stewardship campaigns—an extensively planned campaign culminating in a single, celebratory event in which church members make their offerings at the Sunday worship service and tabulate the results that same day. As with other stewardship campaigns, Miracle Sunday relies on a team of people with strong financial giving records, a promotional campaign built up over a period of weeks (twelve weeks is recommended), and an explicitly stated and ambitious financial goal. However, unlike most stewardship campaigns, Miracle Sunday focuses not on the overall budget, but on one to three worthy causes, such as community projects, building improvement, or programs such as music or education that benefit church members. Another difference between Miracle Sunday and traditional stewardship campaigns is that donors are asked to give not from current income, but from their accumulated resources, such as savings, stocks, or other valuable items such as cars, boats or real estate.
A Miracle Sunday campaign typically lasts about twelve weeks, and should be planned in the spring so as not to interfere with the fall stewardship campaign. The planning team sends four mailings spread over several weeks, holds two informational meetings, and makes a series of worship service announcements. No home visits are required. The goal for the Miracle Sunday is a single offering that exceeds anything the church has given before (hence the name, “Miracle Sunday”).
To make it most effective, set an ambitious goal, usually at least one-third of the church’s annual budget. Herb Miller states, “Miracle Sunday has raised an amount equal to between one-third and three times the size of the church’s annual operating budget in countless congregations across the United States.” He observes that congregations which experienced a budget shortfall in the previous year sometimes are surprised at the success of their Miracle Sunday campaign the following year, which may be due to the fact that contributions come from accumulated resources and may even represent a once in a lifetime gift. For that reason, Miracle Sunday should not be relied on as a regular event, but used sparingly.
Providing funds can help community engagement work grow and thrive. When projects reach a certain size, fundraising may provide an answer to previously insurmountable challenges such as maintaining volunteer involvement, acquiring needed equipment, or ensuring enough space to make it all work. While funding should never be considered an end in it itself, it can help keep the lights on, the bills paid, and the program thriving. Funding just might be the key to future success.
Excerpted from Dana Horrell, Engaging the Community: Tools for Church Leaders (Fortress Press, forthcoming).
 Herb Miller, “Planning and Leading a Miracle Sunday Campaign, https://www.theparishpaper.com/sites/default/files/resources/Planning%20and%20Leading%20a%20Miracle%20Sunday%20Campaign.pdf