If you work in a parish, you’re probably well-aware of the saying, “Jesus first, others second, yourself last.” And while that is definitely the mindset you want when ministering to your flock, you do need to shift that list so that you think of yourself first when it comes to spiritual self-care.
Let’s face it — it’s been a tough year. Whether your role was an occasional usher, the parish administrator (and if we’re honest, the gatekeeper of all things parish-related!) or the parish priest of a cluster of churches, you’ve had a difficult year. As we begin to prepare our communities for the upcoming Lenten season, it’s time to admit something difficult for most, but truthful none the less: we can’t fill our parishioners’ spiritual buckets if ours are running on empty. Following are some ways you can step back and renew your faith.
You don’t need expensive online courses, reflective spiritual books, or three-day conferences to renew your faith. In fact, one might say that all you need is a few minutes a day in front of the Eucharist, and your trusty rosary that, let’s face it, may not always make an appearance in between staff meetings and socially distanced church events.
Make a commitment to come back to Christ by making the time to visit with him. If your parish offers Eucharistic adoration, stop by to talk to the Lord as often as you can. Tell Him your fears, your worries, your apprehensions. And then do some reflecting. You came into ministry for a reason — is that reason still there? So often, we become fixated on the “doing” part of serving God, rather than focusing on actually being in communion with Him. When we work so hard to do works in His name, yet forget Him who deserves all praise, we’re kind of missing the point.
Block off time within your calendar to spend time with Christ, whether that be by journaling and praying in the morning with your cup of coffee, spending your lunch hour in Eucharistic adoration, or a reflective rosary near bedtime. Like most repetitive tasks, you’ll soon discover that good habits will quickly take hold.
They say if you want to go somewhere fast, walk alone. But if you want to go somewhere far, walk together. And what a journey it can be to work in a parish setting!
When 2020 began, the whole year stretched out with unlimited possibilities. While those opportunities for spiritual growth may not have disappeared, there has been a major shift in how to bring Christ to others when our churches are partially shuttered. It’s a major shock to experience — have you talked it through?
Do you find that sharing your feelings can help you gain perspective and process feelings you didn’t even know you had? Find a friend or trusted colleague to meet a few times and go over how you’re feeling. If your parish team is small, this could even be a good “mini” retreat to attend before the Lenten season is officially underway.
Whether you just have a few meetings with a colleague or two over coffee, or schedule a counseling session with a spiritual counselor, it’s essential to get all your thoughts and feelings out there. Let it out, share what you want (or need!) to share, and then begin anew.
As your parish emerges from crisis mode, there’s bound to be some big projects to tackle — don’t do it alone! If you have multiple tasks to complete, ask fellow staff members and volunteers to help take on some of them. Not only will it allow you more freedom to focus on the bigger picture, but it will also help you keep in mind the “why” for what we do — bringing followers to Christ!
Think of all the usual things that happen during Lent — Ashes, Stations of the Cross, preparing for Holy Week, fasting and abstaining, offering more prayer opportunities to parishioners. The list goes on and on! Now think of how you’re going to accomplish this during a pandemic. It’s time to crowdsource some ideas.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Connect with your diocese for ideas on how Lent should be handled this year. Take note of any restrictions and guidelines, and then see what other parishes are doing to make Lent happen as much as possible. Remember, you don’t need to do this alone!
Looking for ways to highlight Lenten events at your parish? Check out our blog “How to Prepare Your Website for Lent in 4 Easy Steps.”
The effects of COVID-19 are far from over. However, that doesn’t mean your usual church events have to be. This year, your church will need to find new ways to raise money and build community in a virtual setting. From local mom and pop stores to multi-chain businesses, take a cue from what others are doing to remain open and relevant.
A lot of parishes hold monthly fundraising dinners in order to bring in extra funds for ministry. But just because restrictions are still in place to keep COVID-19 at bay, doesn’t mean that you need to cancel that spaghetti dinner.
Today, restaurants are continuing their services by offering curbside carry-outs and no-contact deliveries. Use your online giving platform to create a form for each dinner that includes a list of times people can choose to pick-up their food. The online order form will not only allow them to place the order, but easily pay for it as well, so there is no need for money to be exchanged.
So many churches depend on parish missions to keep their congregations feeling renewed and energized. Unfortunately, social distancing guidelines make it nearly impossible to hold them physically indoors. And while virtual is always an option, it’s hard to feel a connection with fellow members when you’re just an icon on a screen. However, Zoom, the video conferencing platform that has now turned into a verb, can help you maintain that small group feeling within a large group setting.
With Zoom, you have the option to utilize break-out sessions. Start with a main program, break-off into small groups for a quick discussion, and then end it with prayer. If you need to share the cost of the program with participants, you can use your online giving platform to take payments and offer electronic tickets, if needed.
So many churches use fundraising events not only to raise money, but also to build a community with members. A fun night of bidding on items and competing for upcoming excursions is a great way to get parishioners together. But how do you keep the tradition going when it’s not safe to be together? Easy — you bid on items in a virtual setting.
Create an events page using your online giving platform, complete with date, time, and cost of entry. Once purchased, an email notification can be sent to participants with more details about the virtual auction.
Two platforms to consider are 32Auctions and OneCause. Go about gathering your items as usual, set it up using some compelling images and then give members some fun ideas to complete the night, such as having drinks and appetizers on hand to enjoy as they browse, or hosting an accompanying Zoom “party” at the same time.
It’s true that our usual fundraising events need to shift a bit as we navigate this terrible pandemic, but the end goal remains the same. Get together, raise money for essential ministries, and have fun doing it.
Let LPi not only help you maintain your vibrant parish, but make it thrive! Learn more about online giving with WeShare.
With Catholic Schools Week right around the corner (January 28 – February 3), your faith community will have the opportunity to celebrate what makes your parochial school so great. Your parish school provides an excellent, well-rounded education with Jesus Christ at the center of it all. That’s something to celebrate!
Unfortunately, you will no doubt find yourself looking for innovative ways to celebrate, as adhering to social distancing requirements have driven event and extracurricular activities virtual, or forced extremely low attendance. What used to be ways to celebrate “unity in the community” will now have to take place virtually. So, an online giving platform like WeShare is a MUST if you want to accept payments for events, family craft nights, fundraisers and auctions.
While the coronavirus may have stopped a lot from happening in your school community this year, the need is still there. Eventually, you’ll need to replace sports equipment for athletic teams, and you’ll need to restock for extracurricular activities such as after school arts and crafts, student governments, culture groups, debate teams, and student newspapers. And don’t forget, a large portion of your annual school fundraisers go towards academic or need-based scholarship funds.
If you can no longer be together in the same room in order to raise money, you’ll need to offer people another way to give — specifically through online giving. When it comes to fundraising, moving things online to your parish WeShare account is a no-brainer.
WeShare is for more than building maintenance and second collections! You can set up fundraisers and link them to unique bank accounts if necessary. A specific school administrator could be granted access to the WeShare page to monitor funds in real time.
For example, if your school typically holds an annual fundraiser for an end-of-school field day, consider making it family-friendly scavenger hunt. Each family purchases a packet that includes a map, a notebook and pen to record clues, and items you’ll need for the day such as hand sanitizer, bottled water, individually wrapped granola bars and a compass. Each clue leads to the next, until you reach your destination! To allow people a truly contactless experience, a WeShare campaign can easily be established.
Promoting your fundraiser is likely already happening online, but is your school only one click away from receiving funds? WeShare generates a unique URL for each fundraising opportunity, making it easy to share the school-specific or event-specific page via email and social media platforms.
And don’t forget, a WeCreate account (FREE for all bulletin customers!) includes ready-to-customize templates for nearly every event imaginable! Simply fill in the blanks and print!
When you set up a unique collection, you can add additional personalized form items. Add one of these to your fundraiser to further earmark funds. If students are fundraising individually — say for new sports gear or a multi-day field trip — add a text entry box and title it “Student Recipient.”
Or maybe you’re updating your school computer lab, and homerooms are competing for a prize to raise the most money. Title the text box “Designated Homeroom.” These additional categories will show up when you run the report, making it easier to see which funds belong to where.
Raising money online has never been easier. Numerous online crowdfunding platforms make it easy to set up fundraisers and promote them online. However, these platforms come with their own backend management, with no integration with your other parish tools. Keep things simpler for your bookkeeper and track donations all in one place!
This Catholic Schools Week, how do you maximize online giving to raise funds for your parish school? Learn how WeShare can help!
Little by little, our world is starting to return to normal. It won’t be long before people are safe to venture out without masks into large crowds, before we’re safe to socialize with our family and friends again, and where we can attend a movie without risk to our life or others. And of course, it won’t be long before your church is safe to be filled to capacity and we can offer a sign of peace to our neighbors once more. But the question presents itself … will our members truly return?
In the beginning, our live streaming audience was plentiful. And our parishioners were happy to drop off their weekly or monthly check to the parish office. We took turns signing up for a slot in Eucharistic Adoration, so as not to overfill the church. However, many parishes today are noticing that even though they are offering public Mass again, attendance is not nearly as it used to be. And while we still have months before many of us will see the vaccine, now is the time to prepare to welcome our parishioners back to the fold. Here are three simple ideas you can build upon to ensure your members continue their relationship with Christ.
No doubt, your faith community always knew they were welcome to walk through your doors. Welcomed to take part in the sacraments again, welcomed to meet with the priest for confession and spiritual guidance, and welcomed to sit in silence with the Lord during regularly scheduled adoration. But as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way. People get busy and what was once considered an absolute has changed into a variable. And members need a reminder that not only is your church still here for them, it needs them as well.
If you have yet to do so, connect with parishioners via email, postal mail, and/or text messaging to remind them of all the safety nets your parish has in place. Social distancing, sanitizer, and gloves are the bare minimum that some parishes are offering. Other things that some churches have been doing is skipping a weekly collection during Mass, instead asking parishioners to give via check in the back, or through online giving.
Obviously, you don’t want to pack the church to the brim, but it’s important to find a way to signal to parishioners that it’s time to come back. An event designed to jumpstart their faith journey is a great start.
Begin with a welcome Mass, complete with music from the choir. Hold confession beforehand for all those who may have been putting it off and finish it with adoration and benediction, or a rosary in thanksgiving for God’s many graces during this trying time. Use this time to admit that we all have fallen short with God, but that it’s not too late to begin anew.
It’s been a very hard year, and as such, people may be dealing with a lack-luster faith life. And it’s understandable when so many issues have plagued us for as long as they have. People are tired and worn down. They need a rejuvenation of their faith, and they can do this by making a commitment to a renewed relationship with Christ.
There are many programs available that can be utilized for your faith community. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has recently launched a program called “One Percent Prayer,” meant to help Catholics grow in discipleship through daily prayer. Additionally, Dynamic Catholic has a daily reflection program that allows you to start each day with an inspiring quote sent directly to your inbox.
If you are looking for a more community-focused program, consider Alpha, a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith. Typically meant for a small group setting within a parish, the organization has adapted their sessions for virtual viewing. Check out all the details on their website.
Pastors and the parishes they serve are getting creative in remaining connected to their flocks during COVID-19. Check out our blog, “Creative Ways Parishes Communicate Today.”
With the WeShare Engagement Campaign, remind the members of your faith community just how much you rely on their generosity. This FREE quarterly campaign uses targeted messages that will easily triple the growth rate of donors and double recurring online donations for your parish!
This Lent, encourage your parishioners to pick up their cross and follow Christ with encouraging reflections and heartfelt prayers. Shop our online store today for the Everyday Stewardship Stations of the Cross reflections and prayer card. Available for bulk orders.
From online giving to church websites and apps, we have the solutions you need to engage and grow your church. Register for an upcoming product demo today and see just how easy it can be when you have LPi on your side.