-- Step 1: Set a big goal. A few weeks ahead, challenge individual church members to sign up to bake several dozen homemade heart-shaped cookies. They can vary in size, and may be plain, simply frosted or elegantly decorated. Remind volunteers to pray as they bake. If 20 members of a small church bake five dozen cookies, those 100 dozen cookies can touch fifty new families for Christ! A larger church's goal could be several hundred dozen.
-- Step 2: Invite the town. Post an exterior sign: "Free homemade Valentine cookies! Please stop by February 14 between Noon and 2PM to receive our gift of love: two dozen heart cookies." Print business-card-size invitations for members to distribute. Deliver door hanger invitations to the neighborhood around the church. Submit a newspaper story or news tip about the project, with a quality photo of a member baking cookies.
-- Step 3: Prepare well. Set beautiful tables of cookies in a convenient foyer and plan a simple pick-up process. The gift will include a church brochure, newsletter, note from the pastor, and Valentine-themed evangelism tract.
-- Step 4: Joyfully give. On the day of the event, folks come in and choose two dozen cookies, which are packaged for them by friendly church members. Each person is treated as an important guest, and hot cider and cocoa are served to those who want to relax and visit. A "decoration station" would allow kids to frost and sprinkle a large heart cookie, and every person is verbally invited to Sunday worship. Absolutely no donations are accepted. This is a gift.
When cookies are gone, post an exterior sign that says, for instance, "Oops! Our 7,000 homemade cookies are gone. Please take a brochure, and know that you're loved by God and Hope Baptist Church." If there are leftovers, package them to deliver to nearby businesses and shut-ins. (This project can also be done as a Christmas Cookie Extravaganza.)
It's a major effort but a Cookie Extravaganza will "get-'em-in-the-doors" and provide an effective way to touch lives and love them to Jesus!
Diana Davis is author of "Fresh Ideas for Women's Ministry" (B&H Publishing) and wife of the Indiana Baptist Convention executive director. Visit her website at www.keeponshining.com.
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