I once served on the evangelism committee of a small urban congregation (about 100 members). It was poor in money but rich in diversity and energy. The committee decided we should have a “Bring a Friend to Church” Sunday. We picked a Sunday in February, and it happened to be Valentine’s Day weekend.
So we used that as our theme. We announced our plans to the congregation and gave them ideas on how to invite someone in the worship bulletin and newsletter. We knew that we should have a give-away for visitors, but really, there was no money. So we told the congregation that for the next several Sunday coffee hours, we were going to create hand-made valentines.
The kids were really excited and most of the adults were willing to go along with it. A couple of long-time members balked. One woman said (loudly) “I’m not in grade school. I am not going to make a valentine!” (She tended to be kind of cranky.)
The committee asked for donations of materials but we bought (with our own money) construction paper and glue and glitter and markers and colored pencils. The next Sunday we put our stuff on the tables in the fellowship room–and people brought doilies and stickers and other fun supplies! After worship, we got to work.
The committee members walked around to see what folks were making and, behold, the woman who said she would not make any valentines was cutting out paper hearts and covering them with glitter! I asked her about that and she said, “I saw what he was making (pointing at a young man across from her at the table) and I knew I could do better than that!”
We had labels made up that said “We are a church with a big heart–please join us!” and listed the address and worship times. We put a label on the back of every valentine. The church had several AA and Al-Anon groups meeting there so we put posters in their meeting room. We wrote: “Bring a Friend to Church Sunday is February 15. We consider you a friend–please come. There will be treats and surprises.”
That Sunday was wonderful! Many people brought friends and a lot of the AA and Al-Anon folks came. At the end of worship, the evangelism committee handed out the valentines to every person there (members too). And we recruited a couple of the kids to stand next to us to hold big bowls of chocolate kisses for people to take as they walked out. An older guy said to me, “I haven’t gotten a valentine in many years–this is so special.”
What if your women’s group tried something like that? Something a little light-hearted and unexpected? Maybe you could do hand-made Easter cards with foil-wrapped chocolate eggs? It might be a way for your group to show that Women of the ELCA is creative and open-hearted. Has your group tried anything like that?
Kate Sprutta Elliott is editor of Lutheran Woman Today magazine.