Altar server recruitment ideas please

My parish is having training for altar servers in a couple weeks. We are in need of more servers. I teach 4th grade catechism and want to inspire my students to become servers. If the Holy Spirit gives me true inspiration I will distribute something (a letter most likely) to all the children eligible to be servers (with Father’s permission of course). Otherwise I will stick to a talk to my catechism students and pray for the best. I have read “Letters to an Altar Boy” by Rev. David E. Rosage and have a couple ideas but it is a bit dated.

What do you think would inspire children (4th grade and older) to become servers at Mass?
How can I communicate this inspiration to the children?

Parents with children who are servers: What makes your child want to serve?

The parents have to see it as important.

Parents are in charge of young kid’s schedules. They schedule sports, practices, play dates, lessons, tutoring - you have to convince the parents that serving at the altar is worthy of their child’s time.

Can you have the Parish put on a dinner for all the parents of eligible age boys? Then, have some speakers - successful adults who served as boys, a priest, some businessmen, come and speak to the value of serving?

You could start making a list of reasons, serious and silly, to be a server, with the input of current servers, girls and boys. Also get them to help do informal recruiting among their peers, and make sure they’re there if you’re giving a presentation.

Try this as a start?

1.) You don’t have to sit with your parents at Mass.
2.) You can actually see what’s going on during the Mass.
3.) You get to wear cool white robes and colored ropes.
4.) You get to learn the fancy church lingo for the things you wear, like “alb” and "cincture."
5.) You are near the front of the communion line!
6.) You can make a really difference by helping out the priest and other ministers.
7.) You get to mingle and banter with the priest and other ministers before and after Mass.
8.) Sometimes you actually have to remind the priest what to do!
9.) Little kids in the parish are in awe of you.
10.) Old ladies in the parish love you.
11.) It can lead to a deeper relationship with Christ.
12.) They trust you to be in charge of the incense and play with fire.
13.) They trust you to light and extinguish the candles and play with the fancy stick that does this.
14.) They trust you to know when to ring the bells.
15.) They trust you to handle the sacred vessels.
16.) Holding up the “book” (Sacramentary) builds upper-body strength.
17.) It counts for community service hours.
18.) Sometimes goofy things like microphones malfunction - you get to fix them or run to get a new battery.
19.) You might be close enough to hear all the whispered prayers of the priest that they never told you about in 1st Communion class.
20.) It gives you something to do during Mass and something to look forward to the next time you are scheduled.

Use candy.


Good point - I happen to know a few of my students’ parents are not entirely on board with their child’s Catholic education and seem to think football is more important than Mass :rolleyes: :(.


:smiley: Awesome idea thanks for the start!! :wink:

:stuck_out_tongue: I thought of that but I’m not really in the position to bribe . . . . might be able to talk Father into it though.

Have a sign-up, and if specific kids that would be good don’t come forward, ask them personally. Tell them and their parents. why you think they would be good servers, and their families good server families…because it does take a family to make a person who can’t drive into a faithful server.

:smiley: :thumbsup:

21.) [for the parochial students] You may be excused from class to serve Masses and funerals.
22.) Serving weddings leads to lucrative tips.


I’m looking for the magic bullet myself when it comes to recruiting. Servers are rare and precious.

We have used notices in the bulletin with little or no success. Father mentioned our need at the end of Mass for a few weeks, but that didn’t help much either. When it comes right down to it, prayer and personal contact (ever thought of being an altar server??) seem be the best recruiters.

Both of my boys serve and have served for several years. Quite honestly, it was something that my oldest expressed a desire in doing (without me) and the youngest soon followed after he made his First Communion.

We (another mom and I) are thinking that at “Top 10 Reasons (or Top 5) to Be an Altar Server” snippet in the bulletin might attract a little more attention.

Among the reasons: Best seats in the house. Field trip to Incredible Pizza. Service hours (for school). And the # 1 reason: Serving the Lord!

I was thinking of doing that but couldn’t come up with the reasons without help - which has been graciously provided to me here :D.

Absolutely agree that personal contact is the way to go :thumbsup: A general request means that even people who want to do it don’t usually want to put themselves forward incase others think they’re big-headed (this applies to adults more, but somewhat to kids).

I found it difficult to get servers at first, but once I had a couple then more wanted to join, and more and more (you get the idea). Maybe you’ll have to run the first lot of training and have the new guys up on the altar before their friends approach you too. Once children (and I’m even talking about 16 year olds!) see their friends doing it and realise it’s a) something they’re not going to get teased over and b) actually pretty cool then they’ll be queuing up!

Our priest personally visited the the religious ed classes to talk about serving and get some new recruits…

We are very lucky with servers at our parish - we had seven at Sunday evening Mass this week. I even offered to go sit in the pews so that the younger ones could serve but the priest said no; he like lots of servers at Mass.

I would suggest that you tell them they can go for a trial run and see if they like it. Just give them something simple to do which is difficult to mess up, like receiving the gifts. Then step them up to more ‘tricky’ things (bells, laying the altar, etc.).

You have to make the kids want to be alter servers. One parish has special trips, pizza parties, etc. Also, it needs to be thought/spoken of as a VERY important role -kids (and adults too!) want to feel important.

We have an average of about 40 altar boys at the Sunday Morning Masses ( it goes down to 10-12 at our evening Masses)

Our pastor personally invites all boys aged about 6 or higher to become an altar boy. There is no ‘schedule’ they serve when they are there with their families, so it makes it easier on the parents. He even take some boys at 5.

Since the vast majority of the boys are altar boys, it really helps with retention, as they like being with their friends.

There is very little adult involvement, as the older boys train the younger ones. The very young ones, and a few of the 8-10 year olds carry candles in procession. The 6-7 year old are primarily learning to spend Mass in a reverant position. This works well, as young boys really want to emulate the older ones, and thus they quickly learn to sit upright with their hand on their laps, or stand with palms and fingers flat together.

Others ( 10-12) will hold the patens at Communion, ring bells, still others assist with the Offetory. The high school aged boys will turn the pages of the Sacramentary for the priest, and place a remove the pall over the chalice.

The best part about it is that the boys grow up serving at the altar from a very young age, so it isn’t a stretch for the to look at the priesthood as a way of continuing that ministry. We get 1 or 2 boys each year who continue on into the seminary :thumbsup:

Here is a video of the recessional after our 9:30am Mass.

I am head server at my church, and have been serving since sixth grade. I am now a junior in high school. :slight_smile:

My dad’s in charge of the ministry and we allow only fifth grade and up with very few exceptions. The maturity level is usually okay by then but not always.

I suggest you make a flier with pictures of servers looking cool and important. Also, having your best servers make a speech at Mass recruiting during announcements is great. Last year, my brother and I did that. My speech was to the about 100 adults at the 7:30 Mass, but my brother spoke to the fullest Mass and got some laughs out of them, too! They should describe what the requirements are, what serving entails, and why kids should do it.

God bless you for helping with this underrated ministry!

Give these Priests a call and ask them what their secret is. They have dozens of altar boys. Yes, boys. I wonder if that has anything to do with it?


Traditional Latin Mass: Translation and Grammar

Should servers be placing/removing the pall during Mass? Should they even be turning the pages of the Sacramentary?

I think the “uniform” that servers wear means a great deal. Some adults might like to see tight/uncomfortable/hot black cassocks with short/lacey/frilly/sheer surplices but few boys and young men will enjoy vesting in that manner.

We used to have that at my parish. Someone purchased a complete set of some very high quality albs for the servers. They are off-white and they are elegant. The boys and young men look sharp in them. They are required to keep them pressed and I sense a level of good pride in them.

Our Bishop is sponsoring a picnic for all altar servers in the diocese, which I think is a great idea.

At my parish we have only boys serving and our priest will allow any boy to serve who has made his First Communion. We normally have 10-14 servers at Sunday masses. Every server has a part, no matter how small. The younger ones of course have less responsibility than the older ones. The older ones train the younger ones and help during Mass if they get confused.

All of our altar boys wear a cassock and surplice and they always look nice. No tennis shoes are allowed.

Why not? Someone has too :wink:

Remember that the priest would have recently Consecrated the Host, so his hands might have particles of the Blessed Sacrament on them. In this way, the priest hands can remain in contact with the Sacred Vessels alone until he has had a chance to purify them.

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