Around the Fireplace – July 2016

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Cultivating Sunday Morning Church Guests through Community Recognition

by Kathy Copas
Coordinator of Communication and Evangelism

Last month, I covered a lot of simple ideas for getting newcomers in to your parish on Sunday mornings.  All of these ideas centered around the basic concept of nourishing recognition in your community.

To build on those ideas, here are just a few more that can deepen parish-community connection and get more people into your buildings on Sundays and at other times during the week.

Consider offering a form of Community Mission Minutes during your Sunday announcement time. Get out the calendar and look at all of your Sundays for a designated period of time. Advent or Lent may be an excellent time for you to experiment with the success of this.  Identify and invite one community organization or project in per Sunday.  Think broadly—-everything from an animal rescue to a service group like the Elks or Rotary Club to a local food pantry.  Offer these organizations three minutes during church announcement time to inform your congregation about what they do, who they serve, and how it impacts the life of your community.  Encourage them to bring multiple members of their organization and visuals demonstrating their work. Invite the groups to stay after church with a table of information during coffee hour time.

Even in a very small community, if you consider social service organizations, school and college groups, ecumenical partners, and offices and organizations related to local government, you can find an endless supply of groups to highlight. These invitations can bring a different group of newcomers into your church each week and also inspire your congregants to look beyond their own walls, learn, and explore your community’s needs much more intentionally. New, life-giving ministry may emerge from some of these presentations and connections.

Also consider asking community leaders and groups to teach and share skills in your parish. Most people love sharing what they are passionate about and inviting engagement.  Again, you could actually construct a series of two-minute teach and learn experiences during announcement time.  Examples—how to write a letter to your Congressional representatives on an important issue, how to prepare end-of-life directives, how to screen caregivers for family members, how to most effectively direct your personal gifts for the community’s homeless. These quick teaching/learning efforts again mean more new people experiencing worship and your church and getting to know people in your parish.  This can create a lot of synergy all-around!

It always amazes me how many parishes say they can no longer offer adult church school because no one will prepare and lead it each Sunday. The answer?  Focus on community needs and issues. Tap into your community resources for longer teaching experiences, as well as quick bits during announcement time.  Then, all you need is someone to introduce your guest/s, monitor time, and thank them.

Picking up on the idea of teaching and learning via community programs and leaders, you may also want to try getting this concept out of the realm of Sunday mornings and develop a weekly/weekday  experience where both parishioners and community residents can gather for a social and learning time from someone in the community.  Such experiences could also end with prayers and social time in the parish hall or at a nearby restaurant.  How might people in your small community view your parish hall if you renamed it the St. Swithen’s Community Center or Community Learning Center?  More food for thought!

More ideas next month…. So, what are you trying now that is already working in your parish?  Tell us here.

Until next time,

Kathy