Quality of worship, youth programming, and hospitality. A recent survey suggests that Catholics who leave Catholic parishes and join Protestant congregations do so because of those three factors. The reasons suggest a need for a simple focus on the basics. Have we hired the best possible musicians? Have we taken on the courage to rotate musicians and let stale or problematic musicians or liturgists go? Is the music well-chosen, singable, reflective of the community at a particular Mass? Is the homily and overall style of the presider inviting, engaging, and reflective of the community at a particular Mass? Youth programming involves a commitment to hiring or raising up youth leaders from within the community, a commitment to understanding the different approaches to youth ministry, and learning what parents see as their greatest concerns in passing on the faith to their young people. Hospitality requires finding friendly, committed people and putting them in the right place. It also requires finding the kinds of community members who have been around for many years and have a sixth sense for knowing the names, faces, and stories of parishioners. Greeters are, after all, ideally networkers who can connect a new person or family with others who have long been in the community. Hospitality also requires finding people who can put on that “sales” face and a “marketing” cap. Maybe that’s what is most sad about the findings regarding why people leave Catholic parishes: Addressing these three areas requires focus but little else. What is even more interesting is that if any two of these are addressed well, the third tends to take care of itself. © 2006, Bryan Froehle.
Authors Bryan FroehleRestricted