The "Parable of the Talents" Mission Project

By Christopher A. Holwey

  One of the most familiar parables given to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ is that   of the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30). It deals with the good use and   management of the talents given to us as a preparation for the coming of the   Kingdom of Heaven. It has also been interpreted and used in terms of monetary   significance, for one talent is more than fifteen years’ wages of a laborer —quite a large sum of money.

Looking at the parable   itself, we see that before a certain man goes on a journey, he calls his servants   to entrust to them his property one he gave five talents, to another two,   to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who   had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made   five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more.   But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his   master’s money.

When the master returned   to settle accounts with them, the first two were praised for doubling their   talents: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful   over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.”   The third servant, however, was chastised for burying his talent, and even what   he had was taken away and he was cast into the outer darkness. What is important   for us to realize here is the fact that the first two servants were faithful   to what was given to them by their master. They used their talents constructively   and brought about an increase in talents, which were then offered back to the   master for him to use as he saw fit.

A Practical   Application of the Parable

It is this idea that   was transformed into a Missions Project within the Antiochian Orthodox Christian   Archdiocese. In 1979, the Midwest Region Society of Orthodox Youth Organization   (SOYO) established the “Parable of the Talents” Missions Fund. The   purpose was to assist the existing six missions in the Region with financial   support and to encourage the establishment of other potential missions in the   Midwest Region. (The Western, Southwest, and Can/Am Regions were also involved   with this project.)

The Region authorized   $5,000.00 to be used as seed money, which was then distributed to each of the   parishes in amounts of $100.00, $200.00, or $500.00. Each parish was responsible   for distributing this money to its parishioners in whatever quantity was necessary   ($10, $20, and $50 was suggested). Each person had six weeks to “invest”   the money in whatever capacity he or she saw fit. Along with the money, the   parish received a packet containing a manual of guidelines for the project,   a copy of the “Parable of the Talents,” suggested projects for “Reaping   of the Talents,” and newspaper articles on other successful “Talents”   projects. The person in charge on the parish level was asked to go over all   the guidelines with those involved in the project.

Some of the ideas   used for the “Reaping of the Talents” were:

  1. Buying arts and   crafts materials to make some interesting items, and selling or auctioning   them off for a profit. Making sweaters and other forms of clothing could also   be done.
  3. Having a bake   sale with all homemade foods; or an outdoor cookout along with the selling   of other items, flea market style.
  5. Buying various   appliances, jewelry, pictures, and other small items and raffling them off   at a parish dinner.
  7. Buying some paint,   window-cleaner, soap or gas, and offering to paint a room, wash windows, have   a car wash, or cut the grass for someone, depending on personal desires.
  9. Planting a garden   and selling what grows after church on Sunday.
  11. Children can help   out by having Kool-Aid or ice cream sales for others in the neighborhood.  

How It Worked  

I’m sure we all get   the idea that it takes a little creative thinking on a personal level to come   up with ideas that will sell. Nevertheless, I wish to stress the fact that although   the purpose of the project is to make money for the missions in the Region (or   for the parish itself if it is done on the local level), we must realize HOW   this money is being made. It is being acquired through our own personal talents!   Each of us has a specific talent, ability, or skill for one thing or another.   These talents are given to us by God, Our Master, and He expects us to use them   properly for the glory of His Name (the return of the talents’.). To those who   have more “ability” (v. 15), He gives more talents, and expects more   out of them. To those who have less ability, He gives fewer talents, but still   expects them to be faithful with what they have. Otherwise, even what they have   will be taken away, and instead of entering into the joy of the Kingdom, they   will be cast into the outer darkness and lose all hope for eternal life.

Aside from the fact   that it took a longer while than anticipated to get the actual money to each   of the mission parishes, and for each parish to initiate their own plan of action   (which resulted in an extension of the six weeks), the whole Project was still   a great success. The original seed money was almost doubled; parishioners got   the opportunity to work together as a “family” on the local level;   and each parish that participated felt as though it was part of the regional   “family” working together for the support of their younger brothers   and sisters in Christ. In all, it was a very constructive project, and well   worth the effort. Apart from the financial assistance rendered to the mission   parishes in our area, each person who participated received an invaluable and   memorable lesson in the meaning of Christian Stewardship.

Christopher A.   Holwey is a graduate of St. Vladimir’s Seminary and is presently serving as   a Lay Worker at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Wichita, Kansas.


Taken   from the OCA Resource   Handbook for Lay Ministries