You’ve been hearing a lot from me about the need to develop more engaged parishioners if we’re to thrive and grow as a parish. I’ve talked about this in the past, but refresher columns are always useful. Here’s what Gallup has to say about engaged parishioners;
These members are loyal and have strong psychological and emotional connections to their church or parish. They are more spiritually committed, they are more likely to invite friends, family members, and coworkers to congregational events, and they give more, both financially and in commitment of time. You need to develop more of these individuals, because it is the engaged who drive everything in your church.
Perhaps the key characteristic of engaged members is that their church is top of mind for them. They organize their lives around their church, because it is through it that their faith has grown and deepened; that they have found opportunities to serve and help others in their community; and that they have developed their most meaningful interpersonal relationships. They are proud of their church and they can’t imagine a world without it.
– Growing an Engaged Church, pp. 67-68
What does engagement look like “on the ground”? Here are some examples from just the past several weeks:
These (and more) people understand that “church” is in their blood: They’ve discovered that they need it (and so value it), and that they can make a contribution (in encouragement, time, talent, and money) to making it even better.
We need more parishioners like this. (The ME25 survey told us that only 24% of our parishioners are engaged, when typical Catholic parishes have about 31%.) We have lots more parishioners (37% of those surveyed), who like Our Lady of Grace and its direction, but haven’t yet “caught fire” the way engaged parishioners have. They need engaged parishioners to help them to make that shift.
How do we do that? A lot of it is simple hospitality: friendliness, encouragement, listening, maybe a little storytelling about what you’ve gained from being a part of our parish. People come, and stay, because they find that the parish meets their emotional/spiritual needs – often needs they didn’t even realize they had. People’s hearts long for focus on something to live for, for connection to something beyond themselves, for a place where they can be known and cared about, where they can tell the story of their lives… People who find that know they’ve found a treasure. You can make it happen – here – for someone. And you can trust that, when you try, the Holy Spirit will be with you. Help us to grow our engagement!
Until next week, peace.