For most parishes, the holiday season is a busy one filled with lots of fun and faith filled events and traditions. It is definitely a beloved and beautiful time of year. But it is also a season of opportunity that can easily be missed amid the rush of these final days of the year. Consider just a few.
1. Connecting with the Community
It is unfortunately the case that many churches are invisible in their communities. When we first came to our parish the number one comment we heard from outsiders was “I didn’t know there was a church back there.” Christmastime can be an opportunity to change that, at least a little. In 2020, when we were in lock down, we put a lot of extra effort into our outdoor decorations, including a somewhat elaborate Nativity creche display. It turned out to be a hit, with neighbors and families stopping by nightly throughout the season. Now, what started out as a ”plan b” has become an established and revered holiday tradition. We have no information on what, if any, impact this effort has when it comes to evangelization or discipleship, but at the very least it builds good will with our neighbors, and that is always a good thing.
2. Reaching the Lost
A more deliberate and focused evangelization effort for us comes in a Christmas mailer. With the help of a direct mail house (at a quite affordable cost) we send an invitation to Christmas Eve Mass to every household in our zip code (which basically corresponds to our parish “boundaries”). In the form of an attractive post card, it is a simple statement that truly everyone is welcome. Antidotally we know this exercise touches hearts and can sometimes change minds, when it comes to those lost to Christ and his Church.
3. Celebrating with the Parish
The busyness of the season shouldn’t preclude the opportunity Advent and Christmastime offer to celebrate our faith together with our parishioners. We provide a small daily devotional for Advent & Christmas encouraging everyone to be united in daily prayer during this season. There are plenty of affordable such devotionals available (check out ours: Messages of Patience for Advent and Christmas, Ave Maria Press). Parishioners are never more clearly united than when they are united in prayer.
Tis the season of opportunity for your parish. This year, make the most of it.