March Mission Madness mission projects have included a wide variety of work ... that involve yardwork, visiting the elderly, sorting food and clothing, basic home repair, cleaning and painting. (Photo: CBF/GA)
March Mission Madness is the longest running event within the life of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia (CBF/GA), celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2017.
This annual weekend-long event begins on a Friday evening when groups arrive at the local church host for registration, dinner, orientation and worship together.
On Saturday, the groups are then mixed and divided as they serve at mission sites throughout the city. That night, groups return to the church for dinner and worship and then enjoy a time of fellowship during a party.
The weekend concludes on Sunday morning with one final worship service.
March Mission Madness (MMM) began in 1997 when youth ministers Angela Oxford, Charlie Wilson, Jay Ragsdale, Kurt Varney and Lex Horton collaborated to design a youth weekend of mission, service and fun to be held in conjunction with the CBF/GA spring assembly.
In the early years, groups arrived at the host church on Friday evening for activities and orientation.
Participants then slept on floors and pews of the host church, served at mission sites throughout the city on Saturday and returned home on Saturday evening.
In 1999, March Mission Madness was first held separate from the spring assembly In 2000, CBF/GA hired the first event coordinators to plan March Mission Madness.
In 2001, a committee led by Scott Ford and comprised of students attending Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology redesigned the weekend to include two nights and hotel lodging.
At this time, March Mission Madness took on its current weekend structure. Ford remained the coordinator through 2010. Since 2011, March Mission Madness has fallen under the responsibilities of the CBF/GA associate coordinator.
In 2010, March Mission Madness expanded beyond the state of Georgia when Ford helped to coordinate Mission Madness events in Alabama and Virginia in addition to three weekends in Georgia.
Each year, two different CBF/GA churches host March Mission Madness. The local minister (most often the student minister) is heavily involved in the planning process, helping to make specific arrangements related to hosting the event as well as securing the mission sites for the weekend.
March Mission Madness has been held at 28 different churches in 24 cities throughout the state of Georgia, and groups of all sizes attend.
Although our average church youth group size is between 15 and 18, we have had groups attend with as few as three people and as many as 120. The nature of this event allows each group to feel welcome and valued.
While each event throughout the years has been unique, the overall impact of March Mission Madness has remained the same. Every year, hundreds of students spend an entire Saturday serving in the local community.
Mission projects have included a wide variety of work. In most cities, there are sites that involve yardwork, visiting the elderly, sorting food and clothing, basic home repair, cleaning and painting.
In each city, participants are also able to serve with various community service organizations. As they serve, they are able to learn about the work that is already being done through these organizations.
There have also been some unique service opportunities during March Mission Madness. Some groups have worked to clean up and mark graves in cemeteries while others organized and renovated a children's library. Some have even worked on a horse ranch.
In 2014, a severe ice storm arrived in Georgia a few weeks before March Mission Madness and much of the work in Augusta was dedicated to helping to clean up debris that remained.
One of our March Mission Madness work groups will join in our partnership with the New Era Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia this year to spend time as we continue cleaning and renovating a campground together.
Through March Mission Madness, students and adult leaders transform the places they serve and are transformed themselves as they experience the love of God in tangible ways.
This year CBF/GA's March Mission Madness is part of a larger initiative by state and regional organizations in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) called the Youth Mission Tour.
This initiative is an intentional effort for CBF organizations to plan mission-focused events for middle and high school students during 2017. These Youth Mission Tour events will share a common theme and other elements, which will help to strengthen a CBF identity for the students involved.
Martha Kate Hall lives in Macon, Georgia, where she serves as the associate coordinator for congregational life with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia. You can learn more about March Mission Madness here.
Editor's note: This article is part of a series on missions and local churches / denominational organizations.
The previous article in the series was:
Sharing the Gospel, Saving Lives in West African Nation