Our parish has sponsored coffee and donuts after Mass for many years. Lately the attendance has become very thin with only about 20 people coming to share and have good conversations. Where previously we had twice and many people attend. Has anyone else found this happening in their parish? Has anyone been able to renew attendance to an event like this? We serve coffee, milk, juice and rolls and donuts, And ask for a free will offering to help cover the cost. Thanks for any ideas you might have to give our little gathering new life.
Experiencing the same. People just want to move on with their day rather than do the whole fellowship thing. I thought that maybe the parish was full of introverts but that’s not it.
I’m too new to my parish to know the trajectory of coffee & donut attendance, but I think this is a large part of many of the issues that parishes face today—from lack of attendance at coffee & donuts to lack of attendance to Bible studies to lack of a willingness to volunteer. In a lot of ways, our culture is just very fragmented and disconnected.
People want to do their own thing, get in and out. We don’t know our neighbors. We use the self-checkout at the grocery store and order things online. We can more and more get away with living a life of minimal interaction with other people.
Sorry for getting a bit too “big picture”. Working in a parish, I think about these things a lot. It’s an uphill battle trying to get people just to show up for almost anything.
I will say, attendance spikes when there is something else going on along with coffee and donuts. So, for example, our school was having their annual book fair, and so a lot more people came to that in order to peruse the books and support the school. So perhaps you might think of things that would be broadly appealing that would encourage people to stick around.
We’ve NEVER had coffee, donuts or anything after Mass. Some talk for a few minutes after and then everybody goes their way. Father talked about wanting to have a once a month on Sundays after Mass this type of refreshment so people would stay and talk. But don’t know if it will “fly” or not,.
I think it’s a change in the general attitude that people have. It has nothing to do with the quality of the snacks and beverages. When I was growing up, adults were different than they are today. They were friendlier, more relaxed and able to just sit and talk and have a few laughs with people they don’t know very well. I see far less people today who are willing to be involved in anything that is parish related. I’m not sure what happened.
You’re probably onto something there on the minimal interaction point.
I recall that the Bible Study thing we did twice a year, for a total of 10 to 15 weeks of the year was initially attended well, then before we discontinued it, the same core of 10 or 12 people would show up. NO one except me and another lady would volunteer as facilitators. We both burned out at carrying it.
Having said thst, the largest turnout we had was when we did the Bible Study on The Rosary, particularly when I bought rosaries to pass out to the attendees.
Same probably applies to the thing.
I know burnout is a huge issue, too. There used to be much more help facilitating Bible studies here. But after several years of Bible studies that go every week for eight months out of the year, people start taking a step back.
I’ve also seen it happen time and again where a new “program” starts up to much fanfare and excitement, but then eventually fizzles and dies.
To some extent, this seems natural and not necessarily a problem on its own. The same people shouldn’t have to do everything in perpetuity. And no single “program” needs to go on forever. But it seems like there is a general downward trend in volunteers and attendance across the board. Ultimately, the goal is for people to grow in holiness and foster a relationship with Christ. So it’s not all about attendance at events. But at the same time, when people are invested in their faith, that tends to manifest itself in giving back within their parish. So it’s hard not to look at numbers.
For a long time, I have felt like I’m at the cusp of some dramatic realization that will change everything for parish ministry (at least in my parish). But I never quite make it there. I just keep trying to be open to the Spirit.
We have coffee and stuff after Mass, but like my parish’s men’s club, I find sadly most people don’t say anything remotely religious. In fact, some people even start gossiping!
Don’t get me wrong though, I greatly enjoy the coffee after Mass: I love coffee, especially when it’s free!
Is there any chance that a bad volunteer or two pushed this a bit too far or made it sound more mandatory than optional?
I remember leaving Mass when they had coffee and donuts…I had no money and what I did have I gave to the collection. The first couple of times I ate anyway, but then after it was made clear it was pretty tit for tat I stopped partaking.
Also, one thing to consider is that donuts are really out these days. Even Dunkin’ offers fresh fruit and yogurt and such. It’d be pricier than donuts but those watching their health might be more inclined to stay and chat if they were not tempted by foods they “can’t” eat.
Also, many times people have no idea what to say. Perhaps tossing out index cards with conversation starters might help people to break the ice.
A lot of us interact a lot, just not with local neighbors. I’m interacting with people online all over the world every day, for work or just for socializing. I have very little in common with most people at church. To be honest that was one reason I didn’t go for many years. I went back because I missed Jesus, the Mass, the saints, Mary etc. I didn’t terribly miss the people in the next pew.
I have some ties to “the old neighborhood” where i grew up and I can be friendly with people there in a “hi how are you” sort of way, because we have a shared home, neighborhood and history, but that does not work in any other area I visit or live.
I wonder if it depends on how large the parish is. My parish is quite small and most know each other. At least know names. It is easier to go to coffee and donuts when you know who is there and what they think nominally. At larger parishes, you could get anyone sitting next to you.
If you mean “sold out” every time I go into Dunkin, then yeah they’re out. Maybe I just live in donut happy towns. People like them here.
The yogurt, or muffin tops or something, would be a nice touch if some younger people were attending. When I’ve gone to coffee and donuts, it’s invariably all been 75 year old and up people attending. They mostly all know each other and talk to their friends. Anyone younger there is usually the daughter driving Grandma to church or similar. I was usually there because I was driving my own mom.
Wow, I am amazed by the quick response to my question. Evidently the problem I am seeing in our parish is not limited. I am beginning to see that it is part of what society is now. And that is sad. We have a new pastor at our parish and he comes to the coffee after he is changed to meet people. I wonder if he made a personal invitation rather than a general announcement about coffee after Mass if more would attend. I like the idea of a special event to draw people down once in a while. Also maybe having it each Sunday has gotten to be too much. But then people would really get out of the habit of coming if it was only offered occasionally. I agree that people generally used to be more open and friendly. I see it in our neighborhood. People drive up to their garage and that is the last we see of each other. Again thanks for your input.
Yes–there are many who do not eat donuts or even drink coffee. So that can be an issue with low attendance too. And yes to one of the other responses. Most of those attending are older and used to each other and know what to talk to each other about. Every now and then a young family comes down. The kids REALLY love the donuts and rolls. I guess we will just keep on Keep On. Thanks much for your responses.
Our priest can’t hang around on Sunday mornings because after he does our 8:30 AM Mass at our Mission Church he must drive about 20 minutes to the Mother Church to do 10:00 Mass. The Saturday Mass wouldn’t work because it’s mostly older people and they don’t stay because it gets dark early.
I can see just how things have to work in your parish. We were once a mission parish way back when we were founded in 1854. We were on the frontier at that time. Times have really changed. God bless your pastor for his hard work traveling between churches.
We have coffee after mass which is very poorly attended but the people who run it are determined to keep going without considering why only their cliche attend. They cannot understand that their (and the parish’s) lack of hospitality is part of the problem. Our organist said that in the 6 or 7 years since he has played for us, apart from Father, only two parishioners have ever spoken to him. There are other factors in play as demonstrated by the total lack of interest in anything beyond mass on Sundays e.g, a survey showed that less than 2% of the congregation were interested in any form of faith activity, even if they could choose what happened. Our parish (sadly like many) is barely a maintenance parish and needs lots of prayers.
On the plus side, there is HOPE and our new priest is very determined that people become more involved. More than one parishioner has been pinned down by our smiling priest listening, talking and getting a reluctant agreement to be put in touch with someone from their homeland etc.
When I see such surveys I just figure my input won’t matter and they will probably do whatever young families with kids want, because those are the people who are regarded as keeping parishes alive and participating in the most stuff.
I like to pray so I just look for churches where they already have prayer things going on for whatever reason -adoration chapels, rosaries, Flame of Love cenacle, Miraculous Medal novena, etc - and drive there. If a parish doesn’t already have those things. It’s usually because the parishioners think they are boring or old-fashioned and it’s easier to just drive to the church that has rather than try to get people to make something new.
Is there any possibility to have the coffee and donuts in a different area? When you said “young family comes down” I got the idea that parishioners have to go to a different level to attend. We went to a church like that, which really had no other option, we NEVER went unless there was a very specific reason; like, sign ups catechism or something.
At our current church the vestibule is large and so those things are put out in it. Many, many people attend. When your kid makes a bee line for the strawberries you really don’t have much of a choice.
Yep. Have to brainstorm on that!
I jokingly told the Respect Life leader that we need to advertise that we have beer and pizza at our meetings so more would come.