Last week, we talked about strategies for reaching out to people who have “disappeared” from your parish. Here, we’ll focus on parishioners who remain involved, but who could use a little inspiration during Lent.
Last week, we talked about strategies for reaching out to people who have “disappeared” from your parish. Here, we’ll focus on parishioners who remain involved, but who could use a little inspiration.
Revitalize your small groups
Many parish ministers and volunteers who meet online report that they’re suffering from “Zoom fatigue.” Are you seeing declining remote attendance for your ministry groups? Here are some ways you might help people beat that fatigue, and liven things up:
Invite a familiar guest
Ministries who meet online can benefit from a quick check-in with your parish spiritual leaders. You might arrange for your ministry leaders to spend ten minutes at the beginning or end of ministry meetings. They can offer a special blessing or some words of wisdom specific to the ministry. Or, they might simply use the time to listen to volunteers’ concerns and ideas for the parish. For many parishioners, just knowing a beloved pastor or clergy member will be participating at their next online meeting—even if it’s only for a few minutes—can be a great spiritual or social pick-me-up.
Don’t forget fellowship
I attended an online parish ministry meeting over Christmas that wasn’t at our usual time. There was no agenda. There was no parish business to discuss. We wore silly hats and ugly sweaters and simply talked and shared our challenges and joys. Most important, we laughed together. That one unstructured meeting brought us together in a way that a year of meetings couldn’t come close to doing. Think about some parish ministries that could use a little unstructured fellowship time like this. Perhaps your Bible study groups could benefit from a virtual “Friday Fellowship” that’s purely social. Everyone can bring their own sandwich and beer to toast their friendship and spiritual growth. Consider using these Trivia Cards as discussion starters. Provide an inexpensive gift or prize to share—a bookmark, key tag or even a set of placemats can show your support.
Help people take a step outside comfort zones.
Summer is all about shaking up our spiritual complacencies, so why not gently suggest your online groups to try something new? Bible study folks might read one of the narratives from the Psalm 23. Prayer groups might try a new topical study. Consider summer as a time to recalibrate for better living, such as Henri Nouwen inspired Art of [Christian] Living.
Be specific about your gratitude.
If you haven’t done so in a while, take a minute to acknowledge and applaud your parish ministries for the good things they’ve done during quarantine. You might share a small token of your gratitude, but what’s really important here is the specific affirmation of the real things people have done. It can be as easy as writing a note on your parish website or sharing a video on social media. Share some of the specific ways ministries have adjusted their practices or made on-the-fly changes—ushers who learned how to direct traffic for parking lot worship, for example, or youth ministers who found creative ways for confirmation students to gather online. Who knows how your small expressions of gratitude will inspire other parishioners to take stock of their own lives and express their thanks to the Lord, who gives us everything we need?
ICYMI: Last week’s article on reconnecting with parishioners who have dropped out can be found here.
Connie Clark is the editor of Living Faith Kids and the author of numerous books and booklets for educators, families, and children.