It’s really hard to guide the spiritual growth of people in your parish. Everyone is different and moving at different speeds. One thing we know is that God made us to be social and to not be spiritual loners. This is exemplified by Jesus’ public ministry and the calling of 12 Apostles to be part of His team.
In Matthew 16, we read that Jesus created a Church, and the followers gathered together weekly to pray together and listen to the teachings of the Apostles. Institutional religion is God’s idea. And yet, instead of that example raising Mass attendance, people are not gathering on a regular basis. A recent survey from The Pillar shared some of the reasons Catholics have stopped attending Mass (pre-pandemic):
- Felt attendance didn’t matter
- Beliefs changed
- Didn’t feel welcome
- Stopped attending in teens or 20’s
Looking at the case made for not gathering, we’ve got some ideas on strengthening your parish along with her parishioners and how a ChMS can help grow Mass attendance:
Build Strong Connections
- Build Strong Connections: Give people a meaningful way to connect with each other and stay connected to your Parish. Make sure people know what’s happening, when, and where.
→ For example, you can publish events to a shared church calendar, post announcements to the mobile app, and push notifications directly to the mobile devices of people in your church. Check out how to customize the involvement metrics that matter to your Parish. Then use the built-in dashboards to give you specific data about the overall engagement of your parishioners. It doesn’t need to be a mystery. People are less likely to fade away when they can actively contribute, make a difference, and change lives. Put people’s time and talents to good use. Give everyone a way to contribute to the mission of your Parish.
Reinforce their Spiritual Journey
- Reinforce the importance of the individual’s Spiritual Journey: Make sure people understand that you are taking an active role in their spiritual journey.
We don’t track data for statistics. We track things such as sacraments because we want to know what events have shaped their faith and how we can celebrate with them. This helps to keep them involved and accountable, and as a Parish you know their next steps and how to best engage them moving forward.
→ A ChMS can provide your church a written plan and active tracking system for your leaders to follow while discipling people. It will also provide leaders an up-to-date view on how individuals are progressing in each step of their spiritual growth. They’ll know when someone succeeds, and they’ll know when someone is stuck and needs encouragement. Growth is occurring 24/7 and a robust ChMS provides the tool for your lay leaders to minister, coach and react any time, any day.
Plug in Parishioners
- Plug in Parishioners: When you connect personally with people, you discover the challenges in their lives and in the community. As a result, you get more clarity in how to lead and serve people well. Assimilation is the first part of discipleship. People need to have connection to the life of the Parish. This means, you need to encourage participation in fellowship, events, groups, and serving. Getting people plugged in will help in growing Mass attendance and ensure they’re ready to commit to the journey and increase the chance that they will stay connected.
→ Make sure you have a software tool that lets you create custom groups so you can send the right messages to the right people. Providing group communication; a church-wide, easily-accessible directory; and customizable notification and messaging settings, gives your people a voice to respond to the messages, resources, updates, and conversations that you’re sharing. When you provide tools and context for communication and ministry, you yield greater results, with more people listening and more engagement. Now that’s how you do more real ministry.
- Youth Participation: For young believers, the Church is in danger of being out of touch and therefore irrelevant in people’s lives. Young people, specifically, receive a myriad of messages for every possible worldview. Become a beacon of light in your community for the joy you bring to children. Youth today want to be part of something that matters. They want to discover God in the context of community and be on a mission to make a difference in their neighborhoods. Investing in our youth at every level is an organic way to increase Mass attendance.
→ To help your youth make the most of the time they are apart, consider using a group communication app that lets them talk throughout the week. Whether it’s sharing prayer requests, cracking jokes, asking for help with any variety of needs, sharing digital resources, posting encouraging remarks, or just chatting, a great way to connect in community is to connect online with a safe, convenient mobile app. While it may feel out of the ordinary, when you go the extra mile for your youth, they’ll feel like a priority and your Parish will be bursting at the seams with people who are passionate about their purpose and on fire for God.
Be the Church
It has been said that the “Church is a hospital for sinners and not a museum for saints.” People sometimes search for a perfect parish and often will use it as an excuse to not attend at all. However, no such church exists because we are all in it, and we are not perfect. When asking the question, “How do you increase Mass attendance?” Remember that the first step falls on us to be good examples of Christian behavior with all we come in contact inside and outside of our Parish’s walls. Be the church and invite them to come and connect, and let the ChMS connect your entire parish and personalize each person’s involvement.
Relationships are critical to a healthy church. People want to feel a sense of belonging. This happens when people know each other.
How do you overcome this problem? Technology.
Technology can accelerate the speed of relationships. In this free guide, Managing Relationships with Technology, you learn how technology is your best team member for managing more relationships.
For more information please visit ACSTCatholic.com.
Rev. Chuck Salter, Vice President of MissionInsite and Ministry Advancement, joined ACS Technologies in 2019 when ACS Technologies acquired MissionInsite, a company he co-founded and which provides community demographics and data analytics to the faith-based market. Chuck is a clergy member of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has over 30 years of experience in the strategic use of community demographic information, has served as a church planter, and has provided UMC Conference leadership in missional development and ministry advancement.