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Ideas to Increase Mass Attendance

Ideas to increase Mass attendance for the parish pastor, council members, staff, and committees.

Pastors:

  • Ask your Prayer & Worship Committee and/or other respected parishioners to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your homilies
  • Invite some of your most spiritual and articulate parishioners to join you early in the week for discussion of the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures and share how they see the message of those scriptures relating to their lives, families and the larger community. Use their insights in your weekend homilies.
  • When appropriate (e.g. Mother’s/Father’s Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving), invite faith-filled lay people to share how the gospel guides or challenges them in a witness talk after Communion
  • Welcome newcomers from the pulpit
  • Stress in your preaching the communal aspect of Catholicism to combat the pervasive attitude of “me and my God alone” and encourage people to share their faith in creative ways

Parish Councils:

  • Initiate an “Every Member Visit” effort involving all committees and leaders in the parish (don’t make the focus a pitch to get more involved or give more money, but rather to get to know the people in the pews and find out their needs, concerns and interests)
  • Budget money for free subscriptions to the Catholic Herald for new members, as a welcoming tool and way to keep them informed about Catholic events and theology
  • Ask every standing committee of the parish council to choose at least one of the activities below (or one of their choosing) as part of their goals for the year

Prayer & Worship Committees:

  • Brainstorm ways for the congregation to be more welcoming at liturgies
  • Conversations with ushers about how to be more welcoming and/or training of greeters 
  • Evaluate effectiveness of music and worship aids in engaging the assembly 
  • Liturgical minister training to increase their effectiveness; Recruit youth and young adult ministers
  • Invest in name tags for every parish member and encourage them to wear them as Mass. Tell them to assume anyone not wearing a nametag should be assumed to be visitor and to go out of their way to extend them a warm welcome
  • Consider instituting a Sunday evening Mass at least once a month aimed primarily at young adults
  • Discuss ways to make liturgy more child, teen and family-friendly

Evangelization Committees:

  • Consider implementing the “Welcome Home” program using media and direct mail to invite alienated Catholics to a special program designed to listen to their hurts and offer healing
  • Advertise on local radio
  • Use door hangers (maybe homemade?)
  • Send out formal invitations to celebrate the Eucharist with Cluster Mass times
  • Maximize the impact of important celebrations like First Eucharist, Confirmation, Christmas and Easter by having a welcome flyer (e.g. “Merry Christmas from your friends at St.  Mary’s – Hope to see you back soon!”) with schedule of masses and registration information on every seat in the pews

Christian Formation Committees/Day Schools:

  • Have dual Christian Formation and Day School project to build community
  • Give certificates for a semester of free tuition or free Confirmation classes to newly born or at the time of baptism (the carrot!)
  • Call Catholic parents to participation—or pay out of parish fees (the stick!)
  • At Baptism, send a letter from a school child and say they look forward to seeing them at their First Eucharist—then have the older student be at the First Eucharist to congratulate them!
  • Bring together families of those children who’ve recently been baptized or made their First Eucharist for a social program, including some small group activities. Focus on developing relationships!
  • Consider an intergenerational Christian Formation program like Generations of Faith (contact the Lifelong Formation Office, 414-769-3340 to learn more). One of the surprises in parishes that have done Generations of Faith has been the increase in Mass attendance.
  • Create more small group opportunities, like “Why Catholic?”
  • Have an Introduction to Catholicism class for adult parishioners.

Human Concerns Committees:

  • Have an “Advocacy Sunday” on a social issue of concern to the community (crime, safety, education, health care, etc.) and publicize it for six weeks beforehand in community newspapers, neighborhood flyers, etc. At the Mass, have educational information available as well as postcards or supplies for letter-writing to local, state or national legislators.
  • Put an invitational flyer in every Food Pantry bag, and have St. Vincent de Paul members take them to homes when they do visits
  • Be sure to incorporate an invitation to worship with your faith community at any community outreach event, e.g. blood drives, health screenings
  • Ask your Parish Nurse (or one from a neighboring parish) to organize a health screening or health education program for people from the area, and make sure someone from the parish welcomes people and invites them to come back for worship.
  • Start a “Knock, Knock” ministry like St. Catherine on 51st and Center. Teams of two introduce themselves as members of the parish trying to get to know their neighbors and build a stronger community. Find out their concerns, offer the use of the church hall for block club meetings or programs of interest to the neighborhood, and let them know they’re welcome anytime to join you for worship. Once or twice a year, do a neighborhood “blitz” in which dozens of parishioners go out at the same time and saturate the neighborhood. Publicize your next “Introduction to Catholicism” program!

Parish Life/Community Activities Committees

  • More community building events (not fundraisers), i.e. socials, breakfasts, fish fries
  • Call on parish members who haven’t been heard from in a while to invite them to a social. Refer them to the pastor or pastoral associate if they have pastoral needs.

12/14/06 – Mark Peters

Kim Mandelkow
Director
oremus@archmil.org
414-769-3349

Susan Skibba
MissionInsite Coordinator, Assistant
skibbas@archmil.org
414-769-3355

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
PO Box 070912
Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
Toll-Free: (800) 769-9373
Fax:  (414)  769-3408