Advent and Christmas are the busiest seasons for the Catholic Church and consistently receive the highest Mass attendance every year. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a year of church closures and bishops suspending the Mass obligation, data gathered by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University showed that attendance during Christmas remained the highest.
For some who are new or have become distant from the Church, Advent and Christmas Mass may be the one time they step inside your parish or tune into your live stream Mass. Having a hybrid strategy that creates a meaningful experience for everyone to share in the joy of Jesus’ birth while making new attendees, online and in-person, feel welcomed to come back again will be key to growing your parish. But, this will rely heavily on dedicated volunteers.
This year, with continued uncertainty stemming from the pandemic and with most parishes having more practice with live streaming and video conferencing, there’s a significant opportunity to offer a meaningful hybrid Advent and Christmas experience that engages people further into the life of your parish. Empowering volunteers with a plan, training, and the right communication tools can mean the difference between burnout and nurturing stewardship that will make them feel energized to serve again and again.
Nurture Stewardship of Time and Talent
Recognizing that everything comes from God is at the heart of stewardship. Parishioners are driven to give their time and talent because of their gratitude for the gifts God gave them. Nurturing stewardship is essential to building parishes that will thrive for years and years. Parishes rooted in stewardship experience more participation in ministries and Mass attendance, deeper prayer life, more support for community outreach, and generous financial support.
Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year, and in the rush to get to Christmas, it can easily be overlooked. But the Church calls people to spiritually prepare during Advent for the full joy of Christmas through prayer, scriptures, reflections, acts of charity, lighting the candles around the Christmas wreath, and attending a novena of daily Dawn Masses. Providing these Advent opportunities in addition to practices for nativity plays, meetings, potlucks, Christmas outreach drives, decorating the interior and exterior of the church, managing a quality livestream experience, serving at in-person Masses, and every activity related to the week of Christmas will require a coordinated effort and clear communication with volunteers more than any other time of the year.
Make It Convenient For Everyone To Lead And Serve
The key to building stewardship is creating a strategy that makes it easy for staff and leaders to manage ministries, while also making it convenient for volunteers to give their time and talent during one of the busiest times of the year. ParishStaq is a platform that syncs volunteer and ministry planning to make this possible for parishes.
Our LEAD app allows staff and ministry leaders to manage directly from their phones. They can easily create groups, events, schedules, manage assignments, track families as liturgical ministers serving at the same Mass, and send push notifications to notify volunteers of any upcoming changes. We also made it convenient for leaders to reserve rooms at the church for practices and meetings.
Life gets busy and it can be a challenge for some to volunteer. So we found ways to make this easier. Through the parish app, volunteers can access their schedules or family member’s assignments, set availability preferences and block out dates, browse open assignments, message the scheduler, view Mass plans, swap assignments with others, and receive updates via push notifications. Your volunteers will no longer have to stop by the parish to pick up a schedule or spend days looking for someone to swap assignments with. They’ll quickly and conveniently be able to do it all from their phone.
For new or irregular attendees, Advent and Christmas will be an opportunity to introduce them to your parish app. Many of our parish customers offer podcasts, devotions, scripture readings, live stream Masses, opportunities to join, donate to the parish, and much more on the parish app. It can be a powerful evangelization tool and will help them stay connected to your parish beyond Advent and Christmas.
It’s All Connected: Stewardship of Treasure
When parishioners feel connected through the sacraments, engage with the parish, and enthusiastically serve in ministries, they will see your church as an essential part of their community. They’ll see it as part of their family and their children’s future. They’ll want to see your church thrive and will want to support your parish financially.
The parish app offers simple payment processing with the highest security certification available for online payments in English and Spanish. They can also access current and previous giving statements, making it even more convenient for parishioners and staff during this busy season. And for those tuning in for Mass on your website, giving online is just as quick, simple, and secure.
Taking the time to establish a structure and create a well-thought-out plan to care for your volunteers while making it easy for them to serve will go a long way to achieving your mission. So to help you gear up for a meaningful hybrid Advent and Christmas, download our eBook, “10 Steps To Give Every Volunteer What They Need.” It’s packed with insights on developing volunteers and how to set them up for success.