“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”– John 15:5
Engaging others is more than just inviting them. While invitation is a key part of engagement, what we truly want is to be in relationship with those who we are seeking to evangelize. Invitation and programs are an important part of evangelization, but we know that being in relationship makes invitations and programs more meaningful. All of our outreach and invitations should oriented towards making a personal connection with those that we are inviting back to church.
Below are a few ideas and templates for what your parish might do to reach out and connect with those in your community.
principles of engagement
- Make it personal
- Diversify your methods
- Be transparent (answer any questions)
- Invitational, not condemning
- Personal Follow up
These don’t have to be high tech or high budget! even simple videos shot on an iphone can be a high enough quality and can be edited to help invite people back home. Video is a great medium because it shows personality and is more relatable than just the written invitations. these can be shared on the parish website, parish social media and emailed to all parish contacts.
Film a warm invitation from the pastor (and any associate pastors or priests in residence) that let’s people know that it’s time to come home and that they are missed. These videos should be between 60-90 seconds. the focus of this video is invitation; if you want to highlight any safety protocols that are still in place, that should be filmed separately. let people know that you are praying for them and that they can reach out to the parish office if they have any questions.
As your parishioners come back, stop them after mass and ask them to share why they love attending mass. consider setting up a station in your narthex or gathering space where parishioners can record a simple witness to the value of their faith and involvement in the parish community before or after mass. Again, these don't have to be high tech - just real life stories of why people are returning to be a part of your faith community.
"Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within you" - 1 Peter 3:15
Three questions to ask during parishioner testimonies:
- What does it mean to you to be back at mass?
- What value do you get out of being a part of a faith community?
- What would you say to your fellow parishioners who have not yet returned to mass?
End each testimony with a personal invitation from the parishioner to join them at mass. "I invite you to join me at mass at ______ parish.You have been missed and we can't wait to have you back!"
examples of parishioner testimonies from incarnate word parish can be seen below!
film your pastor or a trusted staff member answering some of the most commonly asked questions about coming back to mass. for reference, you can view some of the archdiocese’s faq’s here. post the video on social media channels and share through email to all parish contacts.
email/social media invitations
see below for examples of social media messages you can use and insert your parish logo and mass times to share on social media or via email with your parish community. if you need assistance compiling your graphics, please email [email protected]
recruit a volunteer team to reach out to everyone in your parish directory and let them know that they are missed! when you call, let them know the mass times, the safety procedures, answer any questions or concerns they may have about returning to mass and ask them how you can pray for them today. you can access a sample phone script to share with the volunteer callers here.
mail a postcard or letter to all families in your directory inviting them to return to mass, letting them know the mass times and safety procedures. if you are hosting an welcome back events or programs (and you should!), list them on the mailing and provide contact information for questions. see a few examples below: