By Gail Marsh
- Send a note of encouragement to follow up with the people who visited your church during the recent holidays. CTA has many thoughtful visitor gifts, as well as practical folders that can hold information about your various ministries, worship opportunities, and school programs. Consider using these in your follow-up mailings or personal visits.
- Print out a large map of your city or your local church community. Use small sticky notes to indicate the names and locations of visitors who attended your holiday worship services. Then, invite church members to call on the visitors who live close to their own homes. Members might offer to provide transportation to church, plan to sit next to the visitor on Sunday, or simply thank the visitor for coming. Encourage volunteers to form relationships with the visitors during the months ahead.
- During the month of January, many churches gather their ministry leaders together to plan the year ahead. To make the most of your time together, ask the participants to come with ideas for event themes and dates, measurable goals for their area of ministry, and potential ways to meet those goals. Use a PowerPoint calendar to help meeting attendees visualize the year. Or, use 12 poster-sized papers - one for each month of the year - and affix them to the wall. By seeing the entire year, month by month, participants can easily spot “holes” in the ministry plan and address them. Consider giving each attendee a gift for participating - CTA’s A Place to Serve gift book would be perfect!
- If this is your first experience with strategic ministry planning, or if you wonder how other churches do it, take a look at these examples: Ministry Action Plan, Ministry Action Plan examples and templates. Feel free to adjust the outlines to fit the needs of your specific ministry.
- Did you still need help with your strategic planning meeting? Don’t be afraid to ask more experienced ministry leaders for their suggestions. In addition, if your church is small, consider joining with leaders from other small ministries via conference call, video chat, or e-mail. Brainstorm ideas to form a strategic plan that fits your congregation’s size, location, and ministry opportunities.
- Hold a staff retreat. Free guidelines are available for the themes Christ-Centered Service, Making and Eternal Difference, and Reflecting Christ. Each includes directions for a strategic planning period.
- Invite teens and adults to volunteer to do snow removal. After each snowstorm, activate teams to clear driveways and sidewalks at church, as well as in the neighborhoods near your church. Enlist owners of vehicles with four-wheel drive to pull stalled vehicles from ditches and deliver food, blankets, and heaters to homebound people and others in need.
- Prepare “January Survival Kits” - plastic baggies filled with lip balm, a small packet of tissues, a pair of gloves, a few individually wrapped throat lozenges, and a packet of hot cocoa. Include a note detailing your church’s name, address, and worship schedule. Also consider including one of CTA’s books of encouragement like The Bible: How to Read and Understand It or Calming Your Chaos. Enlist the help of teens and adults to distribute the survival kits at your local mall or outdoor community event. Invite church members to give kits to neighbors and co-workers, too!
- Help working families in your community by providing emergency childcare on the days school is cancelled because of inclement weather. Encourage families to sign up ahead of time so you’ll have the necessary contact information on those days. Ask volunteers who live near the church to provide care. Keep the day simple: Older children can watch a movie marathon or play board games. Younger children can play, color, or make simple crafts.
Valentine’s Day (Tuesday, February 14)
- Plan a community outreach event for one Sunday in February. The Sunday before your event, send your church bus into neighboring communities to advertise. Hand out CTA’s God’s Love Amazes Me tumbler cups filled with popcorn, along with an invitation to your celebration. CTA offers a God’s Love Amazes Me craft kit, activity book, and even goodie bags for your special day. Be sure to send event participants home with a personal invitation for their family to join you in worship next Sunday.
- Try a new way to identify people in need within your community - givelocally.net. You can also invite congregational members to supply names and needs of people they know. Write a brief description of each need (anonymously) onto a red or pink paper heart. Use yarn to hang the hearts to a Valentine Giving Tree - a tree branch secured in a planter or a construction paper tree attached to the wall. Invite worshippers to choose one or more of the hearts during the month of February and work to meet the need described on the heart they choose. At the end of the month, collect the hearts that remain on the tree. Distribute the list of needs to your home Bible study groups and ministry leaders for consideration.
- On Valentine’s Day, send a special e-mail blast to your church members, reminding them of God’s incredible love for them. Invite readers to meditate on Scripture verses like 1 John 4:10; Romans 5:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; Romans 8:38; and Psalm 136:2-3. Also invite readers to add their favorite “Love Letters from God” Bible verses to your list.
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2016 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.