Stephen Lybrand has been sharing some ideas on how we in the ordinariate might take steps to encourage the growth of our parishes. Parts 1-3 are here. Here’s part four:
4. Promote successes
A. The work of the church is the salvation of soul’s. While our main focus at Mass is always Christ in the Eucharist, when we have a “conversion event”, particularly someone coming into full communion with the Catholic Church (often colloquially called a “conversion” from another Christian denomination), a Confirmation, a child or especially an Adult baptism the entirety of the focus that day should be a community celebration of the event.
We should do everything we can to let the community know how special an event someone professing the faith is, and to congratulate and affirm every member of the parish community for playing a part in the salvation of that soul!
For converts or people coming into full communion give a 30-60 second version of the conversion story. This not only let’s the congregation know a little more about the person(s), it let’s them know what techniques are effective. Be sure to point out anyone in the parish who helped them along in their journey. Additionally, point out that every member of the parish also can claim part of the new persons entry into the Church. Even though they may not have been directly involved, by participating in the prayers, by supporting financially, by helping in service they all had a part in that person joining the faith.
B. Everybody wants to be part of a winning team. Use every opportunity discuss the positive things that are going on in your parish. Your annual giving letters or “vision night” dinners should start off with success stories and end with plans for the future. Preferable these areas should be presented by the key ministry leaders or significant people making the success happen. How many new people/families, Baptisms, Confirmations and the wonderful plans on how you are going to reach the lost in the future.
C. Other than emergency repairs, Capital Campaigns should be focused on “we have run out of room and have kid’s classes playing in the hallway” or “ The sanctuary is 80% full at both services” rather than “we want something new and shiny”. Of course if your ministry areas have gained traction and you can confidently create projections this could be a reasonable justification for asking as well. Show a need born of growth and the financial support will happen. For the most part parishioners are generous givers. If we educate about the place giving has in the life of a Christian (in their formation), then give folks a specific purpose for which the funding will be used, I have found the finances are provided. When people see you are on a mission for souls, particularly in our lost world, those who have the means will support the effort. Living in America we are truly blessed.