By Gail Marsh
- Get ready - Ash Wednesday is March 1, 2017. CTA has all you need to create a meaningful time of preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection. Check out the brand-new Easter-preparation theme for this year: A Love That Never Dies. The theme includes products like a devotional prayer journal for your women’s and men’s Bible study groups; gifts for visitors during the upcoming weeks; and FREE, downloadable sermons with discussion questions.
- Another new Easter resource from CTA is the Sing and Shout! Jesus Lives! Value Pack. It makes the perfect giveaway for your Easter egg hunt! Kids will love thejumbo Gospel Easter egg® with bracelet, mini booklet, foam craft project, and goodie bag. Not hosting an egg hunt? Give the gift to children who attend worship on Easter Sunday.
- Discover how much your teens really know about Holy Week by hosting an impromptu skit. Teens are the actors. You are the audience. Before you begin, lay the ground rules: everyone must participate in some way (even if that means someone gets to be a tree or a rock); teens may need to play more than one part; two predetermined teen “directors” can interrupt the action at any time to add missed details or correct misinformation, but the actors must do a second “take” of the scene. After the skit, join together to read the Passion story from the four Gospels. Note any misunderstandings or mistakes from the skit. To end the event, give everyone one of CTA’s Living for Him silicone bracelets.
- Make personal connections with visitors who attend your Lent and Easter activities. Here’s how: Order business cards from www.CTAinc.com/CustomConnections. Customize the cards with your church’s name, location, pastor’s name, worship schedule, and contact information. Enlist the help of volunteers to hand cards to visitors at your dinners, egg hunt, and other special events. Encourage volunteers to personally invite visitors to worship with you this spring.
- Your community-wide Easter celebration just got a whole lot easier to plan! Check out CTA’s FREE Sing and Shout! Jesus Lives! event outline. There are nine pages of tips and ideas! As you plan the event, don’t forget to order custom-made t-shirts for all of your staff and volunteers.
- Plan to make a video of your church’s Easter preparations and celebrations. (Think: dinners, concerts, Stations of the Cross, Tenebrae service, egg hunt, and more.) Enlist the help of tech-savvy church members to edit and compile the final clip. Then post the video on your church’s website. Thank the community for their support and invite them to worship services.
- Identify people in your women’s group who love Etsy and Pinterest. Invite them to research ideas for invitations, programs, activities, and giveaways for your women’s retreat. Putting extra effort into your invitations and promotional materials will show that you’re creating a unique and worthwhile retreat experience.
- Consider hosting a new-member retreat this spring. It’s a great opportunity for the new members to connect and feel welcome in your church family. Consider using CTA’s The Bible: How to Read and Understand It or another discipleship book for your discussion groups. The booklet will give participants a broad overview of Scripture. Plus, it will give you the opportunity to answer questions and guide discussions about faith.
- This year, let retreat participants register for the prize they really want to win. For each prize, decorate a box labeled with the prize name. Place blank strips of paper near each box and let women register for any and all of the prizes they love. For prizes, solicit donations from local businesses. Perhaps a local florist would be willing to make a seasonal arrangement of the winner’s choice. A local grocery store may donate a gift certificate. Lawn-care companies may be willing to give away coupons. Stylists might like to donate a free haircut and styling session.
- Check out CTA’s new women’s retreat products, Steppin’ Out In Faith. The theme features a comprehensive planning guide for retreat leaders and a ready-to-go participant’s retreat set. Look for other themed gifts and resources to complete your retreat: tote bags, imprintable t-shirts, travel mugs, and bracelets.
- Shake up your ideas about a men’s retreat and try something new! Challenge men to commit to a weekly or biweekly men’s Bible study group instead of the usual weekend retreat. Set a time and place that fits most men’s schedules, possibly early on a Saturday morning. Supply fresh coffee and doughnuts or fruit. Keep it brief - one hour or so. Loosely schedule a short time for devotional thoughts and time for prayer. Consider using CTA’s Justice. Kindness. Humility . . . It’s a Guy Thing pocket devotion book to guide your discussion.
- When planning your guys’ retreat, remember that many men bond through physical activities. With that in mind, schedule active times like hiking, fishing, boating, skiing, target practice, horseshoes, or horseback riding. If you’ll be inside, consider bowling, basketball, billiards, or darts.
- Instead of a guest speaker for your retreat, try a panel of experts. For example, you could invite a medical professional, a life coach, a pastor, and a workout specialist. The panel could begin by addressing predetermined topics and then move toward a question-and-answer time with retreat participants.
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