Monday Morning Quarterback (Special Edition)

This is a special edition of MMQ dedicated to the annual community Walk for The Hungry, which took place yesterday afternoon. I had a group of three walkers, which is two more than I had last year but scores less than our church used to get. I want to pick this thing apart.

A brief history. Time was when our congregation recruited dozens of participants for this event. At least this is the story I’m told. A couple of decades ago, scores of people would raise money and walk, bringing along their kids in what was a vibrant expression of church mission in the community. After some time, the Walk turned into a youth group event, where dozens of teens who had done the walk with their parents as children now did it without them as teens. The church was behind them 100%.

The start of my work here coincided with the last gasps of the Walk as a youth group event. My first couple of years would see between two and five students respond to my pitch for walkers. Then I hit upon the idea of making it a youth leadership vehicle, so I recruited a particular go-getter student to recruit her friends to walk and to raise money in the congregation. That worked really well.

After that student graduated and went off to college, the student leadership model didn’t exactly thrive. So much of what worked was the particular student and her unbounded enthusiasm. Absent that, it was a job.

So here we are. The Walk is no longer a thriving church mission event, no longer a marquee youth event, and not even a clever student leadership mechanism. My three Walkers yesterday are champs, yet they’re frustrated as well. What do we do?

Pull the plug? Do we acknowledge that the energy is no longer there in the congregation for this and stop trying to compel participation?

Re-commit? Do we double down on our efforts? Start recruiting earlier, make more phone calls, really push hard to get either adults or teens to come out? It works for other groups; lots of church and school groups come out for the walk, many of them in matching T-shirts and all kinds of energy.

Give it away? Is there another group in either the church or, say, the church preschool that might have energy for helping the community through the event, and can we set them up for success?

A big part of me wants to pull the plug. But it feels wrong to give up on an important vehicle for our church to be out in the community in mission.

What do we do?

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6 thoughts on “Monday Morning Quarterback (Special Edition)

  1. Interested in the answer. We have a similar situation. Only 3 walkers yesterday for us too.
    I confess, I was happy to write a check, but I didn’t want to really walk either.

    1. “I didn’t want to really walk either.” I learned yesterday that this thing used to be 10 miles. 10 freaking miles. Then it became 10k. Now it’s a 5k walk. Not only do fewer people seem to want to walk, but they also seem to want to walk less.

      1. And does it wend through the community where people would see what you’re doing? Ours does not. It is a 5 mile walk on the greenbelt. So basically a “fun run” set up. There are shorter options for kids or people who can’t walk 5 miles.

  2. The church I was at before Fourth had a lot of success with this. I’m not sure what it’s like now. I was never able to get it off the ground here. I think it’s another example of time prioritization. My guess is that kids and their parents don’t think soliciting money and walking is really that meaningful or impactful, for the community or for themselves. I also suspect–now that I’m a parent of a student in school–that there is overall fatigue with this kind of fundraising strategy. My son has been in kindergarten for a just over a month and he’s already had a “fun walk” fundraiser for his school. I didn’t have the energy or the will to ask people to sponsor him so we just wrote a check.

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