(Editor’s note: This article was written by Diana Broj. It profiles a ministry that not only is interesting and fun, it also builds a positive culture of serving by highlighting ministry opportunities, the people who serve and are being served, and the enjoyment and relationships that flow from them.)
Smile and say…”simple!” At least, that’s what they are saying at Saint Peter Lutheran Church in Arlington Heights, Ill. They have reason to smile because they’ve come up with a simple, sustainable, project called Smiles of Saint Peter that showcases the warm, inviting atmosphere at Saint Peter, along with its many ministries and the individuals that make up the congregation.
Smiles combines modern technology with good old-fashioned fun. Smiles is an ever-changing slide show that features Saint Peter’s people…you guessed it…smiling. These people are smiling in church, on mission trips, in Saint Peter’s day school, in youth group, during Saint Peter’s 150th Anniversary celebration, and in countless other places. Smiles is shown 15 minutes prior to each of Saint Peter’s four weekly worship services.
Smiles’ 2 Simple Steps…Create and Show
Smiles is truly a straightforward, yet beloved, project. Basically, they create a slide show and then show it in church.
The project debuted last December during Advent and is now running like clockwork. Saint Peter member Barb Vossel manages Smiles and couldn’t be more pleased with how it’s going. She got the ball rolling by asking a few people to go to different Saint Peter events and take pictures. Smiles was an instant hit. Now that Smiles is well-known, people approach her with photos, making her job much easier. Many people carry digital cameras anyway and they’re happy to contribute photos. The result? A willing team of amateur photographers that send photos from different events and “non-events,” like the time someone took a quick snapshot of the ushers, well, ushering.
This project offers busy people a chance to serve their church. Contributing to Smiles is as easy as submitting a photo. Volunteers run the slide show before each worship service but they only come in 20 minutes early for service that they normally attend.
Smiles creates a wonderful pre-service atmosphere. It’s fun and it gives the congregation, and first-timers and visitors, a little peek into the vibrant fabric that is Saint Peter Lutheran Church. Smiles shows people happily engaged in many things and serving in many different ways. Smiles makes volunteering look good! Barb says that “if people see you are happy to volunteer, it encourages them to volunteer too.”
Barb, the project’s manager, spends less than two hours per week on it…one hour or so “creating” a new (modified) Smiles and then 20 minutes showing it before the Saturday service, though she hopes to eventually recruit a volunteer for that role. Managing this project has come naturally to Barb, a corporate trainer who retired last June. Barb says that this “project is good for me because I’m really on it. I like that it’s ongoing and the people have been wonderful to work with.” Barb firmly believes that “matching the right people up is key. If you can get people who like to do what you’re asking, then it really works.” Barb generously shared some helpful tips, and volunteer job descriptions so that other churches interested in the project know some things to expect. And now we know what to expect at Saint Peter . . . smiles.
Diana Broj, a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Palatine, Illinois, volunteers in the church’s youth ministry . . . and smiles!