Many churches have been faced with low attendance numbers as parishes re-open for in-person Mass. Even online attendance is waning as the months go by and Bishops continue to offer dispensations for participating in Mass on Sundays and other holy days. So how can we get parishioners to come back?
The answer? Events!
Fall has traditionally been a time for events at all churches. Fall festivals have replaced trick-or-treating in many communities because they offer a safe family environment and activities for children of all ages. This year should be no different. With cooler temperatures and limited activities overall, an outdoor festival may be just the thing for your parishioners and outreach efforts. Even in a pandemic this can be easy to pull off with activities like:
- Pumpkin painting
- Hand painting (instead of face)
- Photo booth
- Hay maze
- Games likes “Guess the amount of candy corn in a jar”
- Hayrides (with proper bale distribution on a flatbed)
- Cake walks
- Mask decorating booth
There are many more activities that can be done but these are a few favorites! The important thing to remember is social distancing, masks, and plenty of sanitizing stations. Each activity should be planned with safety in mind. For example, in your pumpkin painting area pour paint in small disposable cups and use Q-tips, or cut-up sponges, as paint brushes (Q-tips can be tossed, sponges sanitized for reuse).
More Safety Tips…
The important thing to remember is to keep everyone safe. Require adults to wear masks, set up stations so social distancing is taken into consideration for the activity and the queue, and be sure to run background checks on volunteers who will work with children or youth at the event. Plan activities like pumpkin rolling contests where a lot can participate and it’s easy to distance and reset (sanitize pumpkins). Be sure to spread activities out far enough that groups won’t be congregating and ask that everyone bring their own lawn chair or blanket.
With some thought, and a lot of hands, your church could bring parishioners back. If they see a well-planned event it will make it clear that you have their safety and well-being in mind. Even if you aren’t able to host an entire festival, a few activities on a Saturday afternoon could also do the trick. Hopefully, this will help parishioners realize what they’ve been missing both socially and spiritually.