Category :: Diana Davis: Fresh Ideas
A 30-Second Celebration
by Diana Davis
I’ve noticed an interesting common denominator in vibrant, growing churches: They always seem to be celebrating something God’s doing there. Your church can do that! Use these two simple steps to add a mini-celebration during weekly church announcements.
Step One: Be vigilantly observant to see what God’s doing in His church. He is at work! Keep an ongoing list, and select at least one current praise to mention each Sunday.
Step Two: Plan the best way to brag on God. Use varying methods to praise Him for that specific blessing during Sunday worship’s announcements. Here are some ideas and examples, each requiring less than thirty seconds:
- Show it. “The Fire Department sent this thank you note for our church’s prayer and the Fireman’s Bibles we gave them!”
- Numbers. Create giant numbers, and use them to announce camp enrollment, baptism numbers, cans of food collected, etc.
- Tour instructions. “After worship, follow the yellow arrows to see our remodeled nursery!”
- Assignment. “God’s blessing our new singles class! They are distributing invitation cards for you to give a single adult you know.”
- Tradition. Play four musical bars of “Jesus Loves the Little Children” then announce “God’s newest blessing at our church—Ian Key, born to Hal and Jan on Monday.”
- Reminder. “We exceeded our Annie Armstrong offering goal! Take the bookmark in your chair to remind you to pray for our North American Mission Board missionaries.”
- PowerPoint slide. Add praises into pre- and post-service audiovisuals. “73 stopped here to pray on National Day of Prayer!”
- Facebook. “Ann, who is being baptized today, wrote her testimony as a Facebook post! Share it on your page today.”
- Wall graphic. After every baptism, our pastor refers to the wall visual tallying God’s blessing of new believers.
- Applause. “God has answered our church’s prayers for new small group leaders. Let’s all applaud Him for His blessing!”
- Raise hands. “Our men’s Bible class is the fastest-growing in the church. If you’re in that class, raise your hand.”
- Certificates. “Everyone on the front row has completed our Discipleship 101 class! Each received a beautiful certificate like this one."
- Visible results. “Our youth garage sale raised $800 to buy these 40 Bibles and 100 witness bracelets for their Mexico mission trip!”
- Stand up. “Our 5th grade Bible class set a record attendance of __! Stand up, 5th graders!”
- Photo. Use supersized or PowerPoint photo. “Here’s the property our church plant, Soma Church, has purchased!”
- Ask for action. “Let’s use our vehicles as mobile church invitations! Take a church window sticker. Volunteers in the parking lot can help you with installation.”
God is at work in His church. Will you be constantly on watch, and use praise announcements during worship to intentionally, joyfully celebrate what He’s doing?
© Diana Davis is author of Deacon Wives and Fresh Ideas (B&H Publishing). www.dianadavis.org
Fresh ideas for members of committees, teams, Bible classes and other church groups
You’re a member of a Sunday School class, church committee or ministry team. You’re on the church ball team, the nursery rotation or praise band. Whatever your involvement in your local church, each group you attend or serve has a leader who needs to know you’re behind them. How can you encourage that leader? Try some of these fresh ideas... read more.
by Diana Davis
Here’s a fresh and simple way to invite school teachers and staff to your church. Honor those important community leaders by planning a “Meet the Teacher” Sunday during the first month of school.
Students and adult church members will invite school teachers, principals, librarians, bus drivers, nurses, food servers, coaches, music teachers, home-school teachers, professors, counselors and other school personnel, to a Sunday worship service. They’ll be recognized with a small gift and a special prayer.
- Students from kindergarten to college use printed cards to personally invite their teacher and school personnel to come for worship and sit beside them.
- Church members or groups prepare big, gorgeous snack baskets and deliver them to teacher break rooms at local schools. Include a card with a promise of your church’s prayers this school year and an invitation to Meet the Teacher Sunday.
- Provide printed cards and e-invitations for adult church members to personally invite their friends and neighbors who work in the schools.
- Advertise on your church sign and in local papers to invite teachers and school personnel to Meet the Teacher Sunday.
- At a welcome table, provide beautiful nametags for the special guests, personalizing with their name, job and school.
- Plan a brief after-worship Milk & Cookie Fellowship. Serve homemade cookies, milk in cartons, and coffee. Assign adult Bible classes to intentionally chat and invite guests back to worship next week
- Children’s classes can prepare index-size thank-you notes to include with the pastor’s follow-up letter to the special guests.
- Recognize teachers and school personnel by asking them to stand. Student ushers give them a small gift, such as a Scripture bookmark or imprinted mug or pen. Lead a prayer of thanksgiving, asking God to bless them.
- Invite students of all ages to stand for a separate special prayer of blessing and commissioning.
- Include students in leading worship as ushers, prayer leader, or praise team. Our church planned a simple rhythm Scripture performance, and every student was included in the presentation.
You probably know a school employee you could invite to church. Wouldn’t it be awesome if that teacher met the Master Teacher—Jesus—on Meet the Teacher Sunday?
© Diana Davis 2012 See sample invitations for Meet the Teacher Sunday at www.dianadavis.org
by Diana Davis
Need a small gift for dads on Father’s Day at your church? Create a bookmark from this article. Download it at keeponshining.com under “Free Stuff,” add your church name and logo, and laminate.
A Christian dad impacts his family and the world. Dad, you are vitally important. Some fresh Ideas for dads:
Pray for your child.
- Kneel by your sleeping child’s bed and pray for him. Pray for him daily as you drive to work.
- Pray aloud with your child. Pray together at bedtime. Voice a prayer as you drive her to school. Praise God as a family when He blesses, and take needs and crises to Him.
“Pray constantly.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Invest time in your child’s life.
- Create father/child traditions: birthday breakfast with dad, father/daughter date, father/son adventure, read Sunday funnies together, share a hobby.
- Even on busy days, spend at least a few focused minutes with your child. Take a walk, shoot baskets, go for a soda, play a board game. Listen. Comfort. Make eye contact. Speak wisdom.
- Make lifetime memories with family vacations. Yes, a backyard campout counts.
- Idea: Offer to substitute in your child’s Sunday School class.
“Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Be your home’s spiritual leader.
- Enthusiastically initiate family commitment to God, His Word & His church. Read your Bible. Truly love His church. Help your child know Jesus as personal Savior.
- Verbalize your God story. Tell your child about how God saved you. Talk about answered prayer. Conversationally acknowledge God’s importance in your life.
- Teach God’s ways to your child constantly—when you sit, walk, lay or stand. (Deut. 11:18-21)
- Idea: Text or write a Scripture on a note card for your child.
“Tell your children about it, and let your children tell their children, and their children the next generation.” Amos 1:3
Love your wife.
- Let your child see you show genuine affection to mom with compliments, hugs, laughs, prayers.
- You’re teaching them how to treat their future spouse.
- Idea: tell your child the story of how you fell in love with mom.
”Each one of you is to love his wife as himself…” Ephesians 5:33
Encourage your child.
- Show family affection. Laugh together. Delight in your child. Say, “I love you” often. Compliment sincerely. Speak positively about him to others.
- Be the parent. Your child needs a father, not just another buddy. Your loving discipline and wise boundaries demonstrate your love.
- Idea: Hug your child for at least ten seconds today.
“Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
Serve God together.
- Help your child discover her spiritual gifts and use them.
- Set an example of joyful service to God. Find ways to include your child, such as homebound visit, church workday, mission trip, church project.
“Serve the Lord with gladness….” Psalm 95:1-2
Be a man of integrity. Your child is watching your life to emulate it.
- Idea: Tape this on your dressing mirror - “I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. Psalm 101:2”
Enjoy your quiver. Psalm 127:4-5 NLT says that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children…are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!” On average, child-rearing days encompass less than 1/3 of your adult years. Treasure them.
Happy Father’s Day.
©Diana Davis 2012 www.keeponshining.com
Hundreds of children at a school near your church are ready to celebrate summer vacation. What an opportunity! Plan a gigantic End-of-School party with an outreach purpose.
Invite the town with a huge outdoor sign. It might read:
Free End of School Party for all Carmel students!
High School Sand Volleyball Bash 7:30 - 9:30pm
Middle School Pizza Treasure Hunt 5-6:30pm
Elementary Kids Splash Party 2–3:00 pm
Create a Facebook invite, advertise in the local newspaper and print invitations for kids and teachers in your church to distribute.
Be creative with theme, snacks and decor. Make it as simple as “stop by for free ice cream after school” or as elaborate as a full-out summer carnival with inflatable games and water activities. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be upbeat and fun. Schedule the party on the last day of school and make it specific to high schoolers, middle schoolers or elementary kids. Recruit plenty of adult volunteers to assure that every child is welcome, safe and happy.
Prepare a summer calendar of church activities for that age group. Include ongoing events such as Bible class, choir, drama team, Sunday worship service, church library hours, open gym times. List summer events, like Vacation Bible School, camp, all-church picnic, sports teams, family or youth mission trip, etc. Other activities might include a family skate night, Olympic celebration, art day, or other event. Add the church website and phone/email contact information, and print the calendar on brightly colored paper. Attach a magnet for refrigerator hanging.
Here’s the outreach element: Demonstrate Christian joy. Warmly invite those who don’t have a church to come back for Sunday worship and other church activities. Be certain each person receives a calendar. Pray. Watch for opportunities to share Christ. Train student leaders to intentionally include newcomers. When parents arrive to retrieve their child, personally invite them to church.
As an alternative plan, your church could challenge parents of school-age children to host a party at their home for their child’s class or grade, and provide the calendars so they can invite those quests to summer church activities.
Summertime’s coming, and it’s a great time to invite children to meet the Savior.
One extra idea: Before the high school party, ask church members if they need to employ students for the summer and make a “summer jobs” display with applications or contact info.
© Diana Davis 2012 www.keeponshining.com
Fresh Ideas for Easter Worship Planning
by Diana Davis
If a crowd of children was coming to your home for an Easter egg hunt, would you just give each child a carton of raw eggs as they arrived? Of course not! You’d boil and color eggs, decorate, prepare prizes and snacks…
For churches, Easter Sunday is like that. ...Read more.
Fresh Ideas for Pastor Appreciation Day
by Diana Davis
They chatted, teary-eyed, about the enormous encouragement of Minister Appreciation Day each October. The pastor and his wife said, “They really go all-out!” Over the years, their church’s thoughtfully-prepared gifts had included a gift card to a fancy restaurant, a personalized gift basket, a two-night stay at a state park, and golf at a nice course. Last year, they were blown away when the church surprised him with his dream recliner!
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to say “thank you.” Will your church put thought and action into acknowledging the pastor and ministry staff God has given you? Need fresh ideas? Read more...
Five Ways to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of 911
by Diana Davis
It was 5:00 a.m. on the first anniversary of 911. I was in New York as a Victim Chaplain to minister to family members at the memorial service that day. Standing in the darkness overlooking the gaping hole left by the disaster, I overheard a man nearby mumbling, “I was standing right here that day.” After a long pause, he continued, “I haven’t even been back until now. I still can’t believe it happened.” Suddenly I realized that he was talking to me! As I listened to his devastating story of friends who died and his personal terror that day, he sobbed uncontrollably, weeping huge tears. As we prayed, God gave comfort to the man who was trying to put his world back together.
Since the tenth anniversary of 911 falls on a Sunday, how can you acknowledge it at your church? Here are a few fresh ideas:
• Honor First Responders. Invite local police, firefighters, EMTs, etc. to attend worship on September 11 by delivering a large invitation to the local fire and police station. Reinforce the invite with email and snail mail. Personally invite the fire and police chief. Place an ad in the local newspaper to express appreciation and invite first responders to the service. During worship, present first responders with a gift. Our church will give a coffee mug imprinted with “We’re praying for you,” with the church website, and Joshua 1:9 “…be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Express appreciation to them and pray for God’s protection and wisdom. Assure that church members visit with the guests and invite them to return for worship next Sunday.
• Disaster Funds Offering. September 11 could be an opportune time to collect a special offering for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, the largest mobilizer of trained, credentialed disaster relief volunteers in the United States. Because of our Cooperative Program, 100% of disaster relief offerings go directly to help crisis victims, and, most importantly, it’s done in Jesus’ name.
• Shield a Badge with Prayer. This would be a great Sunday to kick off a prayer plan, such as “Shield a Badge with Prayer.” Our church did a version of this for many years, with amazing results. Church members commit to pray for one specific policeman, fireman or other badged public official for one year, sending occasional notes of prayer.
• 911 Prayer and Testimony. Acknowledge the 911 anniversary with a prayer for God’s continued comfort for victims’ families. If a church member was personally affected or involved in the aftermath, he or she could share a brief testimony of God’s sufficiency during those days.
• Challenge your Church. Encourage members to intentionally rise up as God’s church and show His love when disaster hits your community or the nation in the future. If that level five tornado had hit your town instead of Joplin, how would your church have responded? Challenge some to acquire CPR and first aid training, SBC disaster relief training, or disaster relief chaplain training. Begin a plan for communication and church preparedness for disaster ministry.
When 911 occurred, we lived across the country from New York. Our church hosted a community-wide prayer service that next day, and I saw God’s peace and comfort. I walked the search line as a disaster chaplain during the space shuttle disaster recovery, helped grieving parents after a fatal bus crash, and stood beside people who lost loved ones in gas explosions, floods and tornados. Each time, I’ve watched the miraculous power of God as we prayed and ministered in His name during disaster.
As we remember 911, will your church and church members recommit to be God’s representatives during crisis?
©Diana Davis www.keeponshining.com is an author, speaker, and wife of North American Mission Board Vice President, Midwest Region.
Valentine Cookie Extravaganza
By Diana Davis
Invite your community to stop by your church this Valentine’s Day to receive two dozen free homemade heart cookies. This fresh ministry project, a true labor of love, is a sweet and personal way to say “God loves you” and “we care.”
Step 1: Set a big goal. A few weeks ahead, challenge individual church members to sign up to bake several dozen homemade heart-shaped cookies. They can vary in size, and may be plain, simply frosted or elegantly decorated. Remind volunteers to pray as they bake. If 20 members of a small church bake five dozen cookies, those 100 dozen cookies can touch 50 new families for Christ! A larger church’s goal could be several hundred dozen.
Step 2: Invite the town. Post an exterior sign: “Free homemade Valentine cookies! Please stop by February 14th between noon and 2:00 pm to receive our gift of love: two dozen heart cookies.” Print business-card-size invitations for members to distribute. Deliver door hangar invitations to the neighborhood around the church. Submit a newspaper story about the project, with a quality photo of a member baking cookies.
Step 3: Prepare well. Set beautiful tables of cookies in a convenient foyer and plan a simple pick-up process. The gift will include a church brochure, newsletter, note from the pastor, and Valentine-themed evangelism tract (i.e. Valentine Memory Cross from ats.org or Happy Valentine’s Day from christianbook.com).
Step 4: Joyfully give. On the day of the event, folks come in and choose two dozen cookies, which are packaged for them by friendly church members. Each person is treated as an important guest, and hot cider and cocoa are served to those who want to relax and visit. A “decoration station” allows kids to frost and sprinkle a large heart cookie, and every person is verbally invited to Sunday worship. Absolutely no donations are accepted. This is a gift.
When cookies are gone, post an exterior sign, “Oops! Our 7,000 homemade cookies are gone. Please take a brochure and know that you’re loved by God and Hope Baptist Church.” Have leftover cookies? After the event, package leftover cookies to deliver to nearby businesses and shut-ins. This project could also be done as a Christmas Cookie Extravaganza.
It’s a major effort but a Cookie Extravaganza will “get-'em-in-the-doors” and provides an effective way to touch lives and love them to Jesus!
©Diana Davis is author of Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry (B&H Publishing) and wife of Indiana Baptist Convention’s executive director. www.keeponshining.com
Fresh Ideas by Diana Davis
Coming to Your Church Monday Morning…
He cleans the church’s carpet regularly, but he’s never been invited to worship there. She delivers the church mail; but she doesn’t know Jesus. The family spent hours there during Aunt Tip’s funeral, but none of them go to church.
Yes, guests attend your church for worship services, but additional dozens—even hundreds—walk in on weekdays each year! They come in for directions, weddings, benevolence or after-game fellowships. They attend scouts, daycare, support groups. There’s the exterminator, repairman, roofer, delivery person…and God brings them inside your building. Will they meet Jesus there?
Need fresh ideas to intentionally impact each person who walks in your church doors?
Let your walls talk. Stroll through your church entryways and offices, carefully observing as if it’s your first time there. What can a stranger learn about your church and your God? Consider ways to entice them to want to come back on Sunday. Can someone walking through your church foyer actually sign up for a class or an event? Print business cards with the church meeting times and website. Play Christian music. Use every piece of art and every wall hanging to point to the One you worship. Attractively display current newsletters, brochures, witnessing tracts, magazines and invitations for visitors to take. Replace negative or outdated signage. Carefully read each poster to assure outsiders can understand it.
Salute! Warmly welcome each person who walks in the door. Learn their names. If they need directions, mark a map. When offering benevolence, give it joyfully. Give the postal carrier an icy soda on a hot day. Invite every individual to come for Sunday worship. Promise to pray for them. Use small gift bags to prepare welcome packets with a church brochure, newsletter, CD, upcoming events and a few candies. Then watch for opportunities to share them. Consider purchasing inexpensive Bibles and offer them to guests, such as a policeman or a roofer. If you’re the church receptionist, why not begin a prayer journal, listing the name of each person who walks in the door? After you invite them to your church, use the journal and pray for them faithfully.
Assign timely ambassadors. Friendly church members can assist with expected guests, such as those who come for weddings or community meetings. Church members can set a positive atmosphere, help with directions or needs and show God’s love. Serve lunch to construction workers. If the town festival is outside the church doors, serve cold lemonade and welcome people to use restroom facilities.
When a local organization borrowed our church for classrooms, ladies in our church showed up for their break with homemade snacks. Several of those visitors came for worship that Sunday. When our church publicized and opened its doors for National Day of Prayer, church members greeted each pray-er and gave them a personal invitation to come back on Sunday.
The church’s purpose is to share God with the lost world. Since God is sending all these people into the church building, seize the opportunity to share His love with them. So here’s your test: If a toilet overflows in your church next Monday, will the plumber receive more than just a check for his services?
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity.” Colossians 4:5
©2010 Diana Davis is author of Fresh Ideas, Deacon Wives, and Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry (B&H Publishing). Her husband is Indiana Baptist Convention’s executive director. www.keeponshining.com
PUPILS, PENCILS AND PRAYERS
A new school year begins soon. What an opportune time for a church to encourage students and teachers. Need fresh ideas?
Pray for students and teachers. An adult Bible class can adopt a youth class to pray for them by name. During worship, a pastor could invite students to kneel at the altar as he or the youth minister prays for them. Or he could invite teachers and school staff (elementary, secondary, college, home school) to stand, then pray and challenge the entire church to pray for them faithfully. After taking children to school the first day, moms can gather for coffee, fellowship and prayer for the kids and teachers.
Make it easy for kids to invite friends to church. Print a bookmark-size schedule of weekly and special fall events for kids at your church. Order book covers, notebooks, t-shirts or pencils with Scripture, youth motto, website, church name. Our church teens redecorate their Sunday School classrooms annually, painting murals and Scripture art. Plan a back-to-school party or Christian concert. After school the first day, serve homemade pizza at the church. Work hard to provide relevant, top-quality Bible classes and activities for students.
Adopt a school. Your church or adult Bible class could intentionally help a nearby school. Visit the principal to offer assistance, such as mentoring, office help, reading, crossing guards, scholarship application aid or providing shoes, haircut or school supplies for a child in need. Send encouraging prayer notes to the principal. Deliver a huge basket of snacks for the teacher’s break room with a note from your church. An Indiana church painted the playground and developed a great relationship with the school. Be flexible and joyfully show God’s love as you respond to requests.
Prepare for guests. In Sunday’s bulletin, print names of children’s and youth Bible teachers, choir leaders, missions teachers, and so on. Church members can pray for them, and guests will see your commitment to disciple kids. Since families often relocate during summer, purchase a newcomer list for your town, and mail or deliver church invitations before school begins. You could advertise in the local paper to invite all teachers and school faculty in town to worship on Sunday before school begins. Recognize them, pray for them and give a gift (coffee cup, pen) with a Scripture and promise of prayer.
As our children, youth and teachers return to school as ambassadors for Christ, will you assure them of your church’s love and prayers?
“I pray for you constantly.” Ephesians 1:16b
By Diana Davis
“So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges
and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.’” Luke 14:23 NLT
Every year children meet Jesus for the first time at Vacation Bible School (VBS.) Imagine what could happen if every member invited an un-churched child to VBS. Need fresh ideas?
Form a creative publicity team to strategize and disseminate assignments to help every individual and church group impact VBS attendance.
Single adults coordinate an outdoor registration event for the community. The church softball team delivers door hangers to homes within a mile of the church. Senior adults and homebound members pre-register members’ children by phone.
Middle schoolers prepare a VBS puppet show, performing in the local mall and the church foyer. Young adult classes decorate hallways a week ahead of VBS to create anticipation. The praise team and choir hang posters strategically around town.
Teens plan a Celly Party, recruiting dozens of adults to join them for a sixty minute phone blitz. Callers use their own cell phone, a script and simple registration form to invite and register kids who visited church last year—church guests, sports participants, fall festival attendees, daycare children or AWANA kids. Include inactive members in the calling list. When a child is registered, the caller rings a bell and adds the name to a whiteboard. After a fast-paced hour, they pray for the children, enjoy snacks and celebrate.
Individuals help. A member with graphic design skills creates an outdoor banner invitation. Garage salers share invitations as they shop. An inviting story in the local paper shows a photo of VBS prep. Sunday School teachers wear bandanas to show VBS enthusiasm They connect with VBS workers as prayer partners and for follow-up visits. The women’s ministry rents an air dancing guy or a huge advertising balloon, like a cowboy for a western themed VBS. A theatrical member wears a VBS mascot costume, such as eBay’s cowboy horse inflatable suit, to visit Sunday School classes or church and community events.
Simplify participation. Provide yard sign invitations for their lawn. Give everyone postcard invitations to share. Create e-invitations they can email friends. A week before VBS, deacons give every worshipper a helium balloon invitation to deliver to a neighbor.
Vacation Bible School only opens doors to reach children who come. Cast a large vision for every church member to invite children to VBS.
©Diana Davis, author of Deacon Wives (B&H Publishing) and wife of Indiana Baptists’ executive director. www.keeponshining.com
Check out these Fresh Ideas from Diana Davis:
Picture this: a simple, well-lit stable stands visibly on your church lawn. A lighted sign says “Turn here for free live nativity.” Music is playing and costumed nativity characters create a captivating Christmas-card-like setting. People stop to observe and church members welcome them with steaming cups of cocoa. The atmosphere is worshipful yet joyfully celebrative...
For a memorable Christmas party for your Bible class or other church group, plan a Christmas Explosion! Singles, couples, youth or kids will enjoy fellowship as their Christmas celebration “explodes” to touch others...
Looking for a way to keep Christ in your Christmas celebration this season? Try this Christian version of The Twelve Days of Christmas...
A three-foot-tall Spider-Man and his parents are driving past your church looking for a safe and fun Halloween alternative. Need fresh ideas for a community outreach event?
Free Family Foto. Create a beautiful, lighted outdoor photo site on your church
lawn with pumpkins, mums, hay bales and autumn leaves. Advertise well. Enlist amateur photographers to quickly pose and photograph families who stop by. On Sunday, display photos in the church foyer for pick-up, or mail them to families as a postcard with a personal note on the back.
A Community-Wide Costume Parade can be staged in your church parking lot with an emcee, spotlights, Christian music and free hot chocolate. Prepare a gift and church invitation for onlookers. Chalk the parade route, designate a staging area for the children, and decorate a golf
cart for your parade marshal – the pastor!
A “Trunk or Treat” Event can attract hundreds to your church parking lot. Joyful, costumed church members circle their cars in the parking lot, open their decorated trunks, and pass out candies, tracts and invitations to church. Oakhill Baptist in Evansville themes its event each year.
Fall Festival. Some churches plan a free festival with carnival games, tractor rides, box mazes, pumpkin carving or cupcake walks. Others rent bouncy games, feature a Christian band or do a Noah’s Ark party.
Hallway Parade. Ask children from your church to meet at a local nursing home for a pre-arranged costume parade down the halls. Distribute large-print tracts and pre-approved
treats for residents.
Reverse Trick-or-Treating. Teens or families deliver homemade cookies to neighbors, along with a packet of information about your church.
Make a goal that each guest for any event will receive two verbal invitations to church along with a tract (such as found at atsTracts.org) and a printed invitation to worship.
Leave the Light On. If church members stay at home that evening, challenge them to give out big candy bars or treats along with a tract and church invitation.
Paul challenged Christians to “make the most of every opportunity.” There’s a little guy in a Spider-Man costume in your town who needs Jesus.
By Diana Davis, author of Deacon Wives (B&H Publishing)
She may look just like any other church member, but God has placed a special call on her life. When a deacon is ordained to serve a church, the wife’s qualifications are carefully considered. 1 Timothy 3:11 states, “Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything.” Her words and actions can enhance or impair her husband’s effective service. She is highly respected, and helps set the pace for other women in faithfulness, soul-winning, dignity, harmony and ministry.
My dad was a deacon, so I saw from a young age how deacons and their wives impact a church. As a pastor’s wife in a new church plant with two deacons, a church with twenty deacons, and a church with a hundred deacons, I saw how deacons’ wives influenced our churches’ harmony, ministry and growth. As a state leader’s wife, I’ve seen hundreds more! A few examples:
- Sarah writes personal encouragement notes to Sunday School teachers, nursery workers, committee members and so on.
- Heidi helps with the church website, photography, music and women’s ministry.
- Linda intentionally sits by hurting and lonely people, widows and guests in church.
- Betty helps equip women to share their faith.
- Ruby organizes deacon wives to host new member receptions at the pastor’s home.
- Cheryl prepares and delivers “bereavement bags” of paper products to church members’ homes immediately after a death in the family.
- Donna warmly greets every church guest and introduces them to others.
- Dawn makes hospital visits with her husband. Pat visits nursing homes. Susan visits homebound members.
- Ruth lovingly helps with the Pastor’s preschoolers when needed.
- Vela invites first-time guests to her home for lunch after Sunday worship. Cyndi hosts youth fellowships. Bess prepares a “prophet’s” room in her home for visiting speakers at the church.
Each of these uses her unique gifts and personality to joyfully and sacrificially serve God in the church and to enhance her deacon/husband’s effectiveness. Many help their husbands organize, visit, and serve. Some deacon wives meet for prayer during deacon meetings. Others plan ministry projects as a group. We could fill this publication with examples!
Her ministry may be highly visible or quietly behind the scenes, but her value is palpable. The deacon’s wife--it’s a worthy life. Will you thank a deacon’s wife this Sunday?
©Diana’s newest book, Deacon Wives (B&H Publishing), releases June 1st. She and her husband, Steve, write a regular column, “He Said/She Said,” for LifeWay’s Deacon Magazine. www.keeponshining.com
It’s a tradition that we began when our children were small. Every spring, we stop by the garden store and select a few packets of zinnia seeds. We plant them in the yard, wait in amazement as colorful blooms appear, and watch for opportunities to use them in ministry. Just as another flower appears, a need seems to arise--a troubled neighbor, a single mom who needs encouragement, a friend in the hospital.
It’s remarkable how a simple flower can provide a tangible reminder of God’s love. Why not use God’s lovely creation of flowers to minister in His name? Need fresh ideas?
- If your church displays Easter lilies, assign deacons or members to deliver one to each homebound member or nursing home resident on Easter afternoon.
- A church member with a flower garden may bring flowers for the foyer or ladies’ restroom counter.
- For a youth-sponsored garden party, members purchase and bring flats of flowers to church during the first week of spring, and teens plant colorful flower gardens.
- A choir can plant bulbs at a nursing home and then lead a hymn-sing there when they bloom.
- Bring wildflowers, garden flowers and vines from your yard to enhance a church buffet dinner.
- Offer to plant flowers for elderly members or church neighbors.
- Present a bouquet of her favorite flower to the minister’s wife or church secretary on her church anniversary.
- Recycle altar flower arrangements by delivering them to nursing home members or dividing them into bouquets for hospital visits.
- A friend of mine creates potpourri from funeral flowers for the bereaved family.
- Each year when her gardenias bloom, a member at our church brings a tray full of blossoms, lovingly pinning one on every woman.
- For a long-term illness, deliver a vase with a few flowers, and assign different church members to bring additional flowers for the bouquet every few days.
Will you use flowers for ministry this spring? I once ordered rubber thumbs from a magician supply store and spray painted them green to use as a handout for a class on Christian growth. A green thumb is not required, however, to use flowers in ministry. Even a brown-thumbed gardener like me can grow zinnias. And if all else fails, the local florist is nearby.
©These Fresh Ideas are from Diana Davis’ book, Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry (B&H Publishing ’08). www.keeponshining.com
“Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23b ESV
There’s an invisible sign on your church door. Does it read “Stay Out!” or “Please Come In”? The date and time for worship services are clearly posted, but a church must constantly watch for other ways to invite the lost inside the doors. Need some fresh ideas?
• Capitalize on building location. A downtown church invites firefighters and police to exercise in their gym. One rural church hosts a welcome celebration for migrant workers. A church adjacent to a school serves breakfast to kids and a church near a prison helps released inmates transition. An urban church plans inspirational businessmen’s lunches. A church in a residential area hosts neighborhood coffees and a mom’s day out program.
• Study census demographics to become knowledgeable about people and needs in your area. If one-third of your population is single, provide a singles’ Bible study. Is there a need for a GED or English as Second Language class? Would senior adults enjoy a low-impact exercise class?
• Intentionally plan ways to draw people into God’s building. Host a mom’s tea on the first day of school. Open the chapel doors for National Day of Prayer. Provide a Christian concert or art show simultaneously with the town festival. Offer a First Place weight class or aerobics with Christian music. Plan a citywide end-of-school celebration for fifth graders, a family event, or an after-game fellowship.
• Seize opportunities to welcome outsiders by allowing use of the building for weddings, funerals, community meetings, school teacher training, school banquets, etc. Create legal, hospitable parameters for building use. To ascertain that guests visually learn about your church and your God, attractively display current church brochures, witness tracts, missions facts, event information and worship service invitations.
If God has blessed your church family with a church building, why not open its doors and invite the lost inside? Then, when they walk through those doors, welcome them warmly, and introduce them to Jesus.
There’s an invisible sign on your church’s front door. Does it read “Stay Out” or “Please Come In”?
©Diana Davis is author of Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry (B&H Publishing, 2008). www.keeponshining.com
By Diana Davis
“It was in my heart to build a house for the name of the LORD my God.” 1 Chron. 22:7b
It’s exciting to watch many growing churches across Indiana who are beginning construction on buildings. Need fresh ideas for those eventful construction days?
• Cross on Top. Builders often erect a tree on the roof during construction. Why not top your construction project with a large cross made of two-by-fours instead?
• Coming Soon. Invest in a professional sign to inform curious passersby about the project. A hand-delivered memo to residential and commercial neighbors can let them know what’s happening and invite them to worship.
• Plumbers’ Lunch Bell. Provide a hot lunch or box lunch for every different work crew, i.e. painters, electricians, landscapers. Include a note of thanks, a witness tract, and an invitation to worship. Challenge church members to personally invite workers.
• Rafter Writing. When framing is complete, invite church members for a special ceremony. Encircle the building for prayer; then distribute permanent marking pens. Play Christian music while everyone writes his or her name with a prayer or Scripture on studs or rafters.
• Steeple Setting Ceremony. If your building plans include a steeple or exterior cross, plan an informal steeple setting celebration for members at the time of its installation.
• Weekly Photo Update. Designate a volunteer photographer to capture building progress and action photos of each volunteer. Submit unique photos to local newspapers. Show weekly photos in pre-worship audiovisuals, website or newsletter, and create a photo journal for the building dedication.
• Grab a Hammer. Involve different groups in the church when possible. Examples: single adults paint, fathers and sons install doors, sweeping senior saints (“Triple S Club”) sweep the site each Friday, kids collect pennies for a piece of Christian art, teens plant trees, etc.
I sat by a little boy in the new church foyer after a church service recently. “See that door?” he pointed. “Me and my dad put up that door.” What a joy to work together to God’s glory! Grab a hammer.
©Fresh Ideas shared by Indiana Baptist’s Executive Director’s wife, author of Fresh Ideas (B&H ’07). www.keeponshining.com
By Diana Davis
“Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” 2 Timothy 2:22b
It’s time for the annual Sunday School Christmas party, and you’re wondering—once again—how to make it enjoyable. Need fresh ideas?
- For a fun twist, ask attenders to wear Christmas hats— Christmas cap, antlers, Santa hat. Provide extras for those who forget.
- Deliver a special invitation to members-in-service and prospects. Ascertain that each class member is invited personally and in writing.
- Vary the format each year. Plan a casual dessert party, an early Sunday breakfast at church, or a formal banquet.
- Use nametags to enhance fellowship.
- Take a group photo. Distribute prints at the end of the party or next Sunday.
- For a gift exchange, set a dollar amount or enforce a “no $” rule. You could exchange Christmas ornaments, pins, ties or hats. As an alternative, bring nice wrapped gifts and have an auction, with donations going to Lottie Moon Christmas offering, or bring gifts for a needy family, fruit for the nursing home, or books for the church library.
- Divide into teams for games by giving each person a Christmas carol title on a slip of paper. On the count of three, everyone hums their song until they find teammates with the same carol.
- Play “Designer Santa.” Teams of 4-6 people have seven minutes to create a Christmas costume on a team member, such as a Santa, angel or tree. Supplies include masking tape, tissue paper (red, black, white, green), foil, cotton, construction paper and scissors. Vote and award prizes.
- Play “Caroliscious.” Each team of 5-7 people is assigned a Christmas carol to perform in a unique or humorous manner, i.e. mock-opera, choreographed, chipmunk-fashion. After ten minutes of impromptu rehearsal, teams perform. Hilarious!
- For a progressive Christmas grazing party, travel to three class members’ homes serving heavy hors d’oeuvres. Decorate vehicles with battery-powered Christmas lights to add pizzazz, and stop en route to carol. If it’s snowing in Indiana, drive by the pastor’s home and let everyone make a snowball and quietly leave them on the porch with a signed note, “Our pastor is SNOW wonderful!”
- Conclude with a brief devotional about the meaning of Christmas, then gather around a piano or guitar and sing carols.
A Sunday School class’s Christmas party is often its best-attended fellowship of the year. Have fun with your Christian friends as you celebrate the Reason for the season.
©2008 Fresh ideas are shared by Diana Davis, Indiana Baptists’ executive director’s wife. www.keeponshining.com
“…give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord.”
I Thessalonians 5:12-13
Each October, many churches designate a day to show appreciation to their pastor and church ministerial staff member. Need fresh ideas?
One Fishing Lure
Determine one small item your pastor enjoys, such as M&Ms, fishing lures, popcorn, coffee, or golf balls. Ask each church member, including youth and children, to bring one of that item on Pastor Appreciation Sunday. For example, each family member will bring one bag, any size, of peanut M&Ms. Bring extras for guests and forgetful members. As your church thanks God for your pastor on Sunday, each member can walk to the front and place their token of love in a large basket.
The Church Building & the Church
Present your pastor with a beautifully framed photo or painting of the church building. Use an extra wide matting and ask all church members to sign the mat before adding glass.
Distribute your minister’s e-mail address to all church or class members, asking each one to send an e-mail note, describing something specific that they appreciate about their pastor. E-mails should be sent one specific day or week, creating an e-pounding of blessings!
Use the same basic idea, but ask each member to send a text-message to the pastor or staff member.
Order a jigsaw puzzle with a photo of your church family or church building. Internet puzzle companies make 100 or 1000 piece puzzles from a photo.
Love Our Pastor
Take out a full-page ad in your local newspaper, featuring a photo of your pastor with each church member's signature around it. Include a declaration of your church's love and appreciation for your pastor.
Give each church member a stamped envelope that is pre-addressed to your minister's home. Ask them to send a very specific, personal note of appreciation this week.
Make It a Month
As a church, deacon body, ladies group, choir or youth group, make October a true month of appreciation for your pastor. Ask individual volunteers from the group to write their name on one day of an October calendar. On the assigned day, that person expresses appreciation to the pastor in a unique way. Each day will be different. The pastor might receive a letter or gift. It could be a meal, a shoeshine or a "thank you" balloon bouquet. After a whole month of pleasant surprises, won't your pastor feel appreciated? And won't God be honored by your acts of love for His servant?
While You Were Out
Hanover Baptist in Indiana surprised their pastor with a gorgeous new home office. With his wife's input, of course, they worked with a decorator and volunteers to turn a spare room into a home office while the pastor was out of town. They did paint, wallpaper, window coverings, shelves, desk, chair, computer, and decorator items.
Gift of Prayer
Give your pastor the gift of prayer. Create a chart, and allow members to choose a specific time that they will commit to pray weekly for the pastor this next year. They do not need to come to a specific place—just pray on their way to work or pray each Tuesday at 2 PM. The project could be done by a deacon group, choir, class or the entire church. Present the prayer promise chart to the pastor as a gift. Then remember to pray!
A Class Idea
All the Sunday School classes of the church could pool their resources to purchase a full set of Bible commentaries. Every individual class could sign inside one of the books, then present it as a gift from their class.
Gift from Deacons
Each deacon purchases a gift certificate to a restaurant, carwash, coffee shop, or book store. He writes a personal note on the back, then all coupons are placed inside a card for the pastor.
Gift from Kids
Wouldn’t it be fun for every child at church to create a signed bookmark for their pastor or children's pastor, using cardstock paper, crayons or markers? Laminate the bookmarks, and then call all the children forward at the end of worship to put their bookmarks in a basket for the pastor.
Gift from Youth
Create huge poster board hearts and a giant love note for everyone to read. Place them on stakes in your pastor's front yard during pastor appreciation day. You could add balloons, but not toilet paper.
More Ideas for a Gift from the Church
Restaurant certificates, magazine subscription, tires, Bible software, a trip, a book, theatre or sports tickets, flowers for his wife, babysitting coupons, a new car, a grandfather clock, a suit for pastor and a dress for his wife, a new car, a new desk, home landscaping.
Ideas for Individual Members to Honor the Pastor
Your church demonstrates appreciation, but how can you, as an individual church member, honor and encourage your ministers? A few fresh ideas:
Write your minister an encouraging note the first day of every month this year. Tell him how last Sunday’s sermon impacted your week. Take him to lunch and tell him how much you appreciate him as your pastor.
Stay Awake In Church
Sit near the front during worship every Sunday during Pastor Appreciation Month. Actively listen during the sermon. Make eye contact. Nod your head. Take notes. Say "amen" at an appropriate time.
May I Borrow Your Car?
As a special surprise during Minister Appreciation Week, borrow your pastor’s car and have it detailed, oiled and lubed, washed and gassed.
Brag about Him
Brag about your pastor every chance you get - and not just at church. Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper during Minister Appreciation Month to compliment your minister. Introduce him to your friends and work associates.
Show respect by calling him “pastor.”
During Minister Appreciation Week, present him a "Best Pastor in Madison" t-shirt, substituting your town's name.
Be the first church member to volunteer for something. Accompany your pastor on ministry visits. Show up early for church and help. Stay late and help. Faithfully and joyfully use your spiritual gifts within the church body.
During Minister Appreciation Week, anonymously mow and edge your pastor’s lawn. Provide a generous book allowance for him in your church budget. Be sure that he's paid an appropriate salary. If he has houseguests coming again, deliver a great casserole. Exempt clergy from bringing dishes to pitch-in dinners.
Love His Family
Do something special for your pastor’s wife. Help pay for his teens to attend the church's youth retreat. Babysit his kids for free during a wedding or funeral. Include his family in your holiday celebration. Help his children apply for college scholarships. Deliver a Thanksgiving turkey to his house.
Quit complaining. Quit complaining. Quit complaining. Quit complaining.
Excerpt from Fresh Ideas (B&H Publishing, 2007)
"In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’
you should tell them…” Joshua 4:6b
What a celebration! A round-number church anniversary is worth planning well. It’s a great gathering of former and current church members and ministers, joyfully recalling God’s past blessings on your church. Need fresh ideas?
The biggest secret: Plan ahead! Send “save the date” notices to former staff and church members a full year in advance. Designate a detective team to locate them using a master list, internet and people resources. Request online RSVPs for banquet, history books, anniversary shirts, etc.
Relate your church history with a brief video or live dramatic presentation. Commission a history book to be written and released at the event. Prepare scrapbooks by decade. Create a looped slideshow to play during registration, pre-service and meals.
Display “THE” membership list, a chronological listing of church members on a banner created from your church records. Ask guests to initial by their name at registration. Display a time-line of significant church history events beside it.
Pre-print nametags, readable from six feet away. Designate charter members and pastors with unique stickers.
Provide anniversary souvenirs such as a personalized ornament, pen, paperweight, t-shirt, notebook, magnet, bookmark, or church cookbook.
Add fashion and musical interest. Feature music from each church history era. Invite attendees to wear costumes to represent various decades, including today’s time period (for those who don’t care for costumes.) Award prizes.
A 25-hour pre-event prayer chain allows members to pray in half-hour scheduled increments. The number of hours parallels anniversary year, i.e. 15 years/15 hours.
- Stand Up. Make history-related recognitions during the celebration.
- Charter members, then church members by decade
- Former and current pastors and ministry staff
- All who were baptized in the church
- Former and current leaders, deacons, teachers, etc.
- All who currently serve in vocational missions or ministry.
- Initiators of various ministries in the church, i.e. library, daycare, benevolence.
- Famous firsts, i.e. 1st youth minister, 1st ordained deacon, 1st baptized.
Establish a special fund for attenders to contribute toward a major item for the church, such as stained glass, steeple or adjacent acreage.
When Steve and I attended the 25th anniversary of a church we helped to plant, it was like a foretaste of heaven! Celebrating God, recounting His blessings, and renewing Christian fellowship--now that’s a recipe for a great anniversary celebration.
Note: Hope to see you next month at our state’s 50th anniversary celebration for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana. Make reservations at www.scbi.org.
An excerpt from Diana Davis’ book, Fresh Ideas-1000 Ways to Grow a Thriving & Energetic Church.
Diana is the wife of Indiana Baptist Convention’s Executive Director. See www.keeponshining.com
Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching. Persevere in these things. 1 Timothy 4:16a
Did you ever play a game called “follow-the-leader?” Imagine a leader wandering blindly through traffic or running into walls. Wouldn’t followers be frustrated? Suppose an archer is shooting arrows with no target in sight. How purposeless!
Leadership in God’s church is infinitely more important than a game. A key responsibility of any leader is to know where he’s leading.
If you organize the praise team, you are a leader. Perhaps you direct a Sunday School department or the women’s ministry or youth group. You may chair a committee or serve as a deacon or a class fellowship leader. If you lead in any church ministry, commit to lead well. Need some fresh leadership ideas?
Cast a great vision. Know your ministry’s potential. For example, if you direct 5th grade Sunday School, research school stats or census data (www.census.gov) to learn how many 5th graders are in your community. Obtain contact info for 5th grade visitors to your church during the past year, including VBS, fall festival, sports teams, etc. Cast a vision to teachers in your department about its eternity-impacting potential.
Make spiritual goals. The ultimate goal of any church leader is the same: to worship God and make disciples. For example, the church bowling team leader can challenge teams to invite unsaved friends to participate. He begins games with prayer, shares a personal testimony with guests, encourages Christian fellowship, and schedules a Sunday for teams to sit together in worship. Trophies are good, but the primary goal is spiritual.
Become an expert. Invest time and effort to become an authority on your leadership topic. Find other churches or leaders who do that ministry well and learn from them. Read books on the subject. Attend training opportunities. Stay informed. If you lead nearlyweds, attend a bridal fair. If you do the church website, take a class to improve skills. If you teach kids, visit a local kids’ ball game.
Love the ones you lead. Acknowledge their victories and challenges. Encourage. Invest. Mentor. Pray for them. For example, one minister of education begins every day by calling Sunday School teachers on their birthday. My granddad taught a boys’ Bible class and visited the home of each boy to know his family and share God’s plan of salvation.
Christian leader—if you aim at nothing, you’ll likely hit it. Will you lead with purpose? Eternity will be impacted.
©Fresh Ideas are shared by Diana Davis, wife of Indiana Baptist Convention’s executive director. www.keeponshining.com
by Diana Davis
It’s an untapped resource in many churches. A vibrant,
upward-and-outward-focused women’s ministry can positively impact a
church’s growth and health. Is your church ready to begin or improve a
women’s ministry? Need some fresh ideas?
Your church is unique. Your women’s ministry must be tailor-made to fit your mission field. It may meet weekly or monthly, mornings or evenings. Whatever the method and whenever you meet, it’s permeated with missions, hands-on ministry, fellowship, growth and evangelism. It’s fast-paced, fun, and worth her time.
For example, we called our women’s ministry LIGHT, an acronym for Ladies Intentionally Going, Helping, Touching. The daytime program met for two hours each Thursday morning. The first hour offered a choice of quality classes, such as Bible study, Women on Mission, book reviews, support groups or crafts. After classes, all groups came together for a coffee fellowship, and then ladies left the church with their ministry team, infiltrating the community to share Jesus. Teams included benevolence, homebound, newcomers, hospitals, outreach, etc. Our Night-LIGHT met monthly with a condensed version of that schedule. We had special events and outreach-focused, quarterly luncheons, too.
Allow me to share five simple organizational secrets to get you started:
Secret #5: Plan a One-Year Calendar. An annual marathon planning meeting allows your leadership team to strategize dates and goals for an entire year. Annual planning dramatically enhances effectiveness.
Secret #4: Memorable Kickoff Event. Ladies gather en masse for the event of the year! Expend major effort to plan a fun, top-quality kickoff to create anticipation and set the stage for a successful, fruitful year of women’s ministry.
Secret #3: Broaden the Circle. The focus stays the same, but fresh additions are made each year—some new leaders emerge, new ministries, new Bible topics and teachers and participants, new events and projects. Got the picture? Stay fresh.
Secret #2: Begin with the Pastor. It’s not a para-church organization; it’s a ministry of your church. God will honor your women’s ministry as they follow the leadership of your pastor.
Secret #1: Focus Upward and Outward. A great women’s ministry incorporates spiritual growth, mentoring friendships, hands-on ministry opportunities, missions education and action, and evangelism. Instead of a “me” mentality, it produces a “go ye” mentality. Women’s ministry works. Literally.
A quality women’s ministry will impact your church, your community and your world for Christ. Women’s ministry must include ministry. Don’t leave M out of your WM.
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