Does anyone have thoughts on how to increase Participation (Attending Mass, Attending Parish Activities, etc?) both for Catholics and for the Community?
Using a variety of communication methods would help.
Bulletin, social media, email, outdoor sign, etc.
Plenty of notice ahead of time.
Babysitting available, or things for more than just one family member.
Have an day of fun for the community… whie raising money for a charity
Personal invites. It’s very powerful.
Mostly, I think people are going to spend their time how they want, and you can’t change their priorities for them.
All I can think of for Mass is to be friendly to people as they come and go, and pray they keep coming. If you have family and friends that don’t go, sometimes getting them to go is as easy as inviting them. Otherwise you could try asking why they don’t and explaining why they should or referring them to a good book or podcast on the importance of Mass.
For parish activities involvement, it might help to announce/advertise things in different ways besides a corner of the bulletin. More variety and maybe surveying of things that would appeal to people might help too. Like I’d be interested in some kind of community service group that performed laborious tasks for people in need, but I don’t really see that kind of thing and don’t have the leadership personality or resources to get it started.
Many ideas in this recent thread
Active (“practicing”) parishioners could speak to and invite inactive Catholic neighbors, friends, and family to attend Mass and parish programs. Maybe even invite non-Catholics to parish events and programs.
Advertisements! Think of all the ads people see online about shoes or apps or movies or whatever. You need to reach people where they are, and nowdays if you have a good social media presence, you might hit some people you haven’t seen since baptism.
If you want people outside the parish to attend you have to advertise. Placard outside the church, flyers being posted and handed out, distribution on e-mail lists that go across parishes (there are prayer groups that have people from many parishes involved and getting communications, for example), advert and event on social media, etc.
It’s really amazing how hard I have to work sometimes to just find out what time some parish event is starting, or to get a ticket for it, or other info about it. When it’s that difficult, I figure the event is for their own in-crowd and they don’t want me there.
Even something simple like posting the bulletin for the week online every week, and not missing a lot of weeks when nobody gets around to uploading it, would help.
Gear programs for young adults, and especially young adult couples 25-45. Parishes are full of old people and empty nesters. Get people involved when they are starting out making something of themselves. That’s when they are hungry for teaching. And I cannot stress this enough - provide childcare during these programs so couples with kids can attend.
I’m thinking of things that got me interested in visiting various churches over the years…often it was attending some social/fundraising function and meeting the people, seeing the facility, and what they valued. If I felt welcome, that the people were sincere, welcoming and the facility inviting, I sometimes attended a service or two because the community seemed like something I might want to be part of.
Thanks everyone for all of the excellent suggestions. Some of these items can be done by everyone (be friendly or personal invites). Other items might can be improved or implemented by various commissions along with pastoral approval.
It’s amazing how often this gets overlooked.
Not that we don’t advertise in other ways: bulletin, social media, parish website, etc. But nothing is more effective than a personal invitation.
Disclaimer…I’m not Catholic and I find it strange how little participation/fellowship there is at my wife’s parish…with that said:
If you’re aiming at young families (which would be our demo), have stuff for the kids that brings the parents in too.
At my wife’s parish, she actually switched there for their RE program. Part of it was a community meal every Wed night while the younger kids were getting out of class and the older kids were coming in. I noticed that group of parents seemed to be tighter knit and more willing to participate.
The parish threw this out in favor of a “family” RE program which “forced” parents to be the ones who went to class. The participation dropped by probably 70% in the first year. I’ve noticed since then that the parish seems to be more “fractured”, families do their own thing and the fellowship they did have is no longer there.
Every time you post, I lament that your parish had this sort of thing that all parishes should aspire to have and then got rid of it. Forming those close knit communities within the larger community of the parish is critical. By and large, people don’t come to parish events because it’s going to be informative and educational. They come to parish events because their friends are there.
Agreed, and when the event isn’t informative and educational (like game night or bingo) they don’t show because of your 2nd sentence. They’re not friends/their friends aren’t there.
One of the goals of the program was to create fellowship and a community of parents. It actually ended up taking that apart.