FIRST-PERSON: Get ready for kickoff!
PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) -- A great beginning can set the pace for a great year. In planning a women's ministry kickoff event, these tips also can be tweaked to launch other key groups into the church year, such as the youth ministry, leadership teams and the choir. Let's get ready for an awesome kickoff day!
Invite. Invite. Invite.
All your excellent planning is worthless if people don't attend. Create anticipation. Begin immediately to implement a detailed plan to give both a printed and a personal verbal invitation to every female in your church. Additionally, send a graphic e-invitation to church members, asking them to forward it to friends. Concentrate on including new attendees by encouraging everyone to bring a friend. Personal invitations are critical.
Create a Facebook event. Publicize in your church publications and website. Friendly women at our church passed out invitations at Sunday worship's exit doors. List it as a local event in your community newspaper and websites. Whether your church is small or large, delegate and follow up to assure this happens.
Consider first impressions.
Every detail counts today. Spruce up your meeting space, if needed, with fresh paint and updated art. Rearrange the seating, and set up for a crowd. Be sure restrooms and hallways are fresh and inviting. Provide directional signs for guests. Create an organized, quick registration process. Add fresh flowers and extra greeters. Delegate these preparation assignments to small teams of women, including new church members, guests or peripheral members. Share the blessing of serving. "Whatever you do, do it from the heart," Colossians 3:23 tells us, "as something done for the Lord and not for people".
Make it special.
Yes, you'll overview the upcoming fall schedule during your event, unveiling new groups, plans and ministry projects. Yes, they'll connect with old and new friends. But what else can you add to make it extra special? Each year's kickoff deserves a special element. A brunch or tea or chocolate dessert? A ministry scavenger hunt or hands-on ministry project?
We introduced one fall semester with a "ministry fashion show." Each ministry team leader strolled a runway, modeling something fun to represent that group, while the emcee told about that ministry. The homebound leader wore a fluffy bathrobe and slippers; the meals-on-wheels leader carried a food tray and Scripture card; the prison ministry leader held bars and a Bible; the food pantry leader juggled cans of corn; and so on. Make it fun and memorable.
Worth their minutes!
Demonstrate that you value their time by planning every meeting well, beginning on kickoff day. Keep a relaxed atmosphere, but be purposeful with every minute. Begin and conclude precisely on time. Put long announcements in print. When the program is purposeful and top quality, they'll come back and bring friends.
Consider ways to help women develop Christian relationships. Draw names for prayer partners or assign mentors. Schedule some time for casual conversations, such as snack time or prayer circles. Assign a friendly member to orient each newcomer and introduce her to others. Encourage small groups or teams to meet for lunch or ministry projects. Plan informal fellowships. Meet at the coffee shop after class. Enjoy a relaxed picnic at the park. Be sure that every attender leaves with new friends.
During the kickoff event, explain how your group plans to impact your community and your world for Christ. Whether your church is small or large, and whether your group is a Bible study, quilting guild, mission organization or exercise class, you can add simple outreach ministry projects.
Jesus' commission to His followers is to "go into all the world" and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15), so redirect your group focus from inward to upward and outward. Today's women love to make a difference! As your group becomes "doers of the Word and not hearers only" (James 1:22), you'll be amazed at the impact you'll have.
Point to Jesus.
Never forget that Jesus is the focus. From kickoff day to year's end, every action or spoken word must honor Him. Be joyful. Pray. Play Christian background music. Chat often about God's blessings and power. Love and integrate guests immediately. Intentionally invite them to Sunday worship. Impact your lost community. Share your personal Jesus story. This is no generic social group; this is a Christian women's group!
Ask for a commitment.
At the close of your fall preview, ask women to register to join a group. Group leaders should call or email their class members before the next week. Have signup sheets for snacks, retreats, projects, volunteer jobs, etc. Snap digital headshots for an online directory. Provide a printed list of fall dates, special projects or events and church-wide activities.
Kickoff is no ordinary day. A great opening day requires lots of prayer, planning and work, but when people come together to know and serve our Savior, it will be worth it all.
"And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works," Hebrews 10:24-25 (CSB) instructs us, "not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching."