How One Small Group Started a Missions Movement

Some of Tedd's favorite gifts to give are those that provide clean water.

Some of Tedd’s favorite gifts to give are those that provide clean water.

Tedd Jones, a member of Believers Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, sensed God leading him toward a new project. He read the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), in which Jesus tells the story of three servants told by their master to invest and multiply the coins that he gave them.

“I knew I couldn’t not do it,” Tedd said. “God had spoken. Not doing it was simply not an option.”

“It” was an initiative that Tedd dubbed “The Parable Project.” He and his wife had maked an annual gift at Christmastime to Food for the Hungry for several years. But that year, 2007, he felt called to find a way to multiply the funds through his church small group.

The Idea Takes Hold

Tedd presented The Parable Project to his small group at Believers Church. He read the Parable of the Talents aloud to his small group and challenged them by laying out unmarked envelopes in front of them. Each envelope contained cash, between $10 and $50.

He explained to the group that each person who chose to take an envelope would be responsible for prayerfully multiplying the funds by using their own talents and ideas. They could use the money in whatever way they chose.

The group members got to work. One group member used the funds to purchase groceries for baking, which she used to have a bake sale. Another member purchased paints and a canvas, and then sold his painting on eBay. The ideas were as unique as each group member, whatever God had laid on their hearts.

A Bountiful Harvest

“Our goal was to double the money, just like what the good and faithful servant in the parable had done,” said Tedd.

Instead, in less than four weeks, the group more than tripled the money! They selected gifts from the Food for the Hungry gift catalog. They donated goats, mosquito nets, school supplies and much more.

Increasing the Scope

"God doesn't necessarily look at things like we do," Tedd said. "Sometimes, it's just a couple of rabbits or chickens to get folks going."

“God doesn’t necessarily look at things like we do,” Tedd said. “Sometimes, it’s just a couple of rabbits or chickens to get folks going.”

Following the first year’s success, Tedd expanded the Parable Project to another small group in the church. Between the two small groups, they set a new record by multiplying their seed money more than four times.

In 2009, Believers Church launched the Parable Project churchwide. Eleven small groups signed up to participate. The church invested $3,000, divided into small denominations and placed in envelopes for group members to pick up. They were instructed to bring back what they had earned in six weeks.

Shortly before Christmas, the small groups brought back their envelopes brimming with funds they had earned. When the totals were calculated, over $14,000 had been raised!

Over the years, Tedd, his small group and the congregation at Believers Church have donated hundreds of gifts through the Food for the Hungry gift catalog. When asked which gift was his favorite to donate, he couldn’t decide.

“It would seem only natural to say the big ticket items because they help so many,” he said. “These are mostly the water projects, like capping springs, digging wells and installing roof water catchment systems. They help the most folks immediately, and are absolutely essential. That said, God doesn’t necessarily look at things like we do. Sometimes, it’s just a couple of rabbits or chickens to get folks going… I like to get the most bang for the buck. I feel I’ve done that when I can use the money in a way that the gift can continue to produce for generations.”

An Annual Tradition

Tedd is committed to sharing The Parable Project with other churches and small groups. He presents to groups in his area to get them started. He enjoys watching how God works through the talents of individuals following His lead.

Interested in starting your own Parable Project? It’s easy to get started. You’ll just need any amount of seed money (Tedd usually starts with $500), envelopes and a motivated small group.

Here’s how to get started.

  1. Divide your seed money into envelopes of $10 to $100 each. Seal the envelopes and leave them unmarked.
  2. With your small group, lay out the envelopes on a table and read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.
  3. Challenge the group members to take an envelope and prayerfully invest the funds, along with their time and talents, for the next 2-6 weeks.
  4. After the time period has passed, reconvene as a small group to share stories and calculate your total.
  5. Together, look through the Food for the Hungry gift catalog to decide how your donation will be spent.
  6. Celebrate God’s provision for people around the world through prayer, worship, and sharing a meal together.

Let us know how your small group, church or organization is using the gift catalog and The Parable Project! Comment below, or visit us on Facebook.