People of all ages, but especially the retired, love the TV programme Countdown. Whilst people are arriving you could have word searches/a small quiz on your theme of the day handed out on paper as people arrive, then 30 seconds before you're about to begin the meeting or gathering, play the Countdown theme available on YouTube.
Totally guaranteed to have everyone's attention!
2. Reflective start
You will need: large central candle, enough tealight candles for each person in the group, tray filled with sand or a ceramic tile to stop heat damage on a table, matches.
The mystery and power of lighting a candle is as old as the age. As the group gathers at the start of the meeting, the leader/greeter (which could be a different person each week) welcomes the whole group together as part of God's family. Each person is then welcomed individually by the leader/greeter who lights a small tealight candle from a main candle in a tray of sand or on a ceramic tile, greeting each person by name. The tealight is then placed close to the central candle in the tray of sand/ceramic tile. Obviously the larger the group, the longer this will take, but for the God who knows even the number of hairs on our heads, the personal welcome and sense of belonging this type of welcome engenders is inclusive and meaningful.
Take it further
If you want a more formal greeting:
Leader/Greeter: The Lord is here
All: His Spirit is with us.
Leader/Greeter: And (insert the person's name), you are welcome in this place.
3. Dreaming and investment talk
Read the parable of the talents from Matthew 25.14-30 (preferably from The Message: 'The Story of Investment').
Announce to everyone that your fictional great aunt Ethel has left you a large sum of money in her will (set your own amount!) for you to invest in a worthy cause or project of your choosing. Over coffee and a cake or your lunch, discuss what you would use it for and how you would invest it. Share your ideas with one another.
Take it further
Discuss together attitudes to money and resourcing. Pray too about the ideas you've shared together – God may be leading you afresh!
4. Best loved
The week before the group meets, ask everyone to bring something that's not perfect that they love. Examples might include: a well-read, dog-eared book; a favourite childhood toy; a coffee mug with a chip in it; an old pair of shoes.
Share together why this item is special.