Beyond the Welcome Mat (Part 3)

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How do you invite people to your Coffee Break ministry? How do you make your ministry an inviting place to be for those who attend regularly and for newcomers?

We wanted to provide leaders with great ideas for inviting people to Coffee Break and for creating a Coffee Break culture that was inviting. So we went to the experts — Coffee Break ministry leaders — and asked three of them to share what their ministry does to invite and to be inviting. Their responses were so wonderful that we decided to create a “Mug Shot” profile on each of them! You’ll find the first one here, the second one here, and the third below.   

Mug Shot: Profile of a Coffee Break in DeMotte, Indiana

The all-ages Coffee Break at First CRC in DeMotte, Indiana has a wonderful problem — their groups are too big! With 105 ladies attending and 14 leaders, this Coffee Break has had to get creative in order to solve space issues — they even have an extra nursery in the women’s bathroom!

Group Leader Jayne Bowers reports that of the 105 women who attend, 30 are from the church with the rest coming from different denominations and some having no church home. “The women all comment on how they love that we study the Bible and we do not talk about which church you are from or what the different denominations believe. It is so fun to hear all the different women share what the scripture is saying to them, ” says Jane. Read on for Jaynes’s answers to our questions about welcoming women to Coffee Break in DeMotte.

Q. How are people invited to your Coffee Break ministry?

Snail Mail. Every year we hand make invitations to mail all the ladies who previously attended Coffee Break. The invitations always say “Bring a Friend!”  

Special Invitations. We really grew several years when we made and mailed little pockets that held 2 invitations. One was to keep for yourself the other was to give to a friend.

Friendly Reminders. We are always reminding the ladies to bring a friend. Whenever we finish one study book and are starting a new one we make a point to say this is a great time to invite a friend! 

Shared Testimonies. We have “Coffee Break Sunday” before we start each new year. We have a woman from Coffee Break give her testimony about what the Bible study means to her. Each year we always have someone willing to do this. It is so exciting!!  We then give everyone in our church a typed invitation/flyer to give to a friend or neighbor. We also ask for people to sign up to pray for this ministry and we give them prayer requests through the year.

Community Publicity. We put an ad in our town newspaper for the 2 weeks before we start. We give a little info about what we do and we give starting times and dates and we also give a number to call. (And yes, we do get calls from our ad!) We also hang flyers around town in public places like doctors’ offices and the library. A woman once came as a result of the library flyer and later joined the church; another girl came after seeing the flyer in the office of her eye doctor — eventually she invited her two sisters and mother to attend as well! We also put information up on our church sign several weeks before we start each fall.

Personal Invitation. Most of our ladies come because someone who already comes and loves it invites them. We have had daughters invite moms, moms invite daughters and daughters-in-law, and ladies invite friends and neighbors.

Q. How do you make your Coffee Break “inviting” to those who attend—and for those who are first-timers?

Lead with Love. We love each lady who walks through the door!  We care about them, talk to them, and listen to them. A big thing we do is pray with them and for them. In our small groups we take requests and have prayer times. I am amazed by the number of ladies who tell me they never knew they could just talk to God like that. Also, many ladies thank us for praying for them in our groups. They never had anyone pray for them like that before. They feel loved and cared for and they are!!

Check-ups. If someone misses 2 weeks in a row we call them to let them know we miss them.    

Welcome Gifts. Any first-time lady gets a Coffee Break mug filled with goodies and wrapped in cellophane with a bow. We have a woman in our church who has a gift to make these and she donates all the goodies inside. She puts a pen (with Coffee Break info on it) and a small pad of paper, a wonderful bookmark, tea bag and even a cute spoon. We also include our church info in case they want to join us on Sundays.

Ladies Who Lunch. Twice each year we invite the ladies and kids to stay for lunch. We have had salad bars, tacos, pizza, soup, baked potatoes and sub sandwiches. 

Special Treatment. For our kick off, Christmas, and on the last day we do special speakers and things. We always set up the tables and decorate (we have some leaders who are great decorators). The ladies always comment that we make them feel special and we treat them so well.

Free for All. Everything at our Coffee Break is free. The ladies are given their books, childcare and all. I think that is very inviting to be given things and not be asked for any $. Our church is so supportive of us and pays for everything!!

Familiar Faces. We have loving consistent nursery help that makes moms feel better about leaving their kids.

Snacks to Share. We have coffee, tea, water, crackers, cheese, fruit and cookies to eat while we study. Food is always fun and inviting! The ladies can sign up to bring these goodies if they want to. They like to help out and feel a part of it by bringing in snacks.

Ground Rules. Women seem to take comfort and want to come back because of the Coffee Break Ground Rules. Coffee Break has 6 ground rules. #1 Our goal is to study what the Bible says. #2 There is no such thing as a dumb question. #3 Everyone gets a turn. #4 No one must take a turn. #5 Any idea is OK to express. #6 Personal things said in the group should stay there.  

This past year I had a woman with no church home say to me she didn’t know if she really wanted to come. Her neighbor had invited her so she came to be nice. She said once she heard the ground rules —​ ​​​​​​especially that any idea is OK to express — she knew she would like this group and she felt more comfortable. She came every week and read stories like David and Goliath for the first time. At the end of the year she didn’t want Coffee Break to end and she thanked us for welcoming her and her ideas!

Birthday Baskets. We have a birthday basket and once each month the ladies who have a birthday get to pick something and we sing Happy Birthday to them.

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