Below, I print from Crux an article they have on increasing Catholic participation. You can read the full article from Crux here.
While these are interesting suggestions, I am ill at ease with these suggestions on a number of levels as it seems we are catering to the consumer's mentality. We must provide the services and products to get people into our churches, much like the Protestants have done for years, especially those Protestant denominations that are in full-compete mode with other denominations around them.
So, what do you see as missing from what is suggested we do as Catholics to keep people in the pews?
Less than half of parishioners, for example, feel invited and encouraged to participate in parish ministry, and only a third understand clearly how to become more involved, and fewer than 20% feel they have a role in parish decision making.
- Starting this Sunday, and regularly thereafter, our pastors and parish council leaders should stand in the pulpit to invite every parishioner to proactively involve themselves in parish ministries. And it won’t just be about delivering the message, but welcoming real initiative on the part of the laity. Once we sound a clearer, more forceful call to action, and many Catholics of goodwill respond, we can’t allow their action ideas to be stalled or smothered under endless layers of bureaucracy.
- At least twice a year, parishes should invite all parishioners to “brainstorming” meetings around key challenges that face our churches: How can we get better at engaging young adults? Re-engaging those who have walked away? Becoming more proactive in service to the poor? We should solicit ideas widely and take a proactive, entrepreneurial stance on the best ones to emerge. We need to experiment with creative new ideas, and most importantly accept the risk that some will invariably fail.
- Each parish should immediately take steps toward becoming more welcoming. Everyone who walks in the church door on Sunday morning should be greeted; those of us in the pews should greet those seated nearby who don’t appear to be parish regulars; welcome messages should be conveyed from the pulpit, on the website, in the bulletin, and elsewhere; and we should have processes to help any who want to learn more about the parish or Catholic beliefs. Research shows that many regular mass-attendees are even more attracted by a parish’s welcoming spirit than by the quality of its liturgy. We ignore such research at our peril