What a Pumpkin Patch Teaches Us About Parish Hospitality

Posted on October 14, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

fall hospitality

The community I live in is a vacation destination. Today there are coach busses traveling up the highway filled with tourists looking at the fall colors, taking part in pumpkin festivals, and who knows what other fun! Every store, restaurant, winery, and farm stand is decked out with pumpkins, cornstalks, hay bales, and scarecrows. The fun and excitement is contagious. I feel like I need a caramel apple and some of those funky ghost pumpkins and lumpy gourds! Later.

People are coming for an experience. My town and all the others around are making sure people will leave with lovely memories. They are setting the stage for friends and families to have an unforgettable fall day with one another. It is important to set the stage for an experience or adventure of any kind, because those who participate will be touched, moved, and transformed. It takes us beyond the ordinary and into the extraordinary! Just why do we love fall rituals so much?

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Five Ways to Pray the Rosary Better

Posted on October 7, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

rosary

 

Did you know October is the month of the rosary? Whether you grew up praying a family rosary every night or still struggle to remember the words to the Apostles Creed, there are always ways to grow. Here are a few practical ways for you and your parish to make the most of this powerful prayer.

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Why Charism Awareness Matters

Posted on September 16, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

charism

In our parish communities, we ask people to give of themselves more and more. We use St. Paul’s image of the Body of Christ to illustrate how we all play a part in God’s Kingdom, each with a unique charim. We express that the need is great and that the only way for us to succeed is to pull together. Then, we express our frustrations behind the scenes because most people still don’t step forward. One reason why is that many seated in our pews do not have an answer to the question, “What do I have to give?”

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Growing in Generous Hospitality

Posted on September 9, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

generousThis time of the year the words “generous, extravagant, and abundant and beautiful” seem to be floating in the air. The farmer’s market this past weekend reminded me of that, with so many tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and green beans. The riot of colors and the anticipation of that ripe tomato sliced with a bit of salt was mouth-watering! Then the flowers! Dahlias, mums, purple status, cone flowers, zinnias, all tucked into big bunches waiting for a home to adorn. It made me happy to just walk amid the booths and seeing people choosing and chatting and taking time to pick just the right things.

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Stewardship & Faith Testimonies

Posted on September 2, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

testimoniesEverybody loves a good story. Stories of faith engage listeners differently than a list of facts or good ideas. When people share their faith journey with others, it offers powerful encouragement to both the storyteller and the recipient. I’ve been there too. We’re in this together. Parishes that limit their stewardship discussions to theological discussion and ignore the personal connection will have a difficult time fully engaging everyone. Finding and telling the right story is possible for every parish.

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Sustaining Generosity

Posted on August 24, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

increased offertoryWe all feel the pinch, don’t we? The relation of income to outflow is a tense conversation in many parishes. It feels like churches cost more than they used to, with aging facilities, competitive salaries for necessary lay ministers, and new programs to enliven faith amid a world where many find it easier to have none. Where does that leave the average Catholic parish? For many parishes, running an increased offertory program is the best solution to relieve the tension. Even so, a new name and new mailings isn’t quite enough.

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Bringing Young Adults to Christ

Posted on August 19, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

young adultsWhat started as a basement prayer group now draws around one hundred weekly attendees from up to sixty miles away. ARMEE is what happens when a community doesn’t wait for ministry to come to them.

Back in 2008, California native Josh Madruga would pray on a regular basis with some of his friends in their hometown of Turlock. As they continued to pray and do youth ministry together, they realized God wanted to do something bigger.

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A Better Back to School

Posted on August 12, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

back to schoolI am drawn to school supplies – I can’t help it. I love the little areas set aside at the local stores for parents and their progeny to sift through, mark off lists and look for just the right folders and notebooks.

I have no reason to be there, but I find myself looking at Sharpies and Mr. Sketch markers with excitement and locker decorations with nostalgia. While I peruse the aisles, I often notice my fellow shoppers and they are not shopping leisurely like me. They are harried, stressed, rushed and a little annoyed at those lists that get longer every year. I overheard one woman say, “ Seriously, three boxes of tissues? Who are these kids and why do they blow their noses so much? And a protractor…do these wear out or something? Why a new one? How new and improved could they be?” I am sure there is a really good reason those are on the lists, but in the midst of all the getting ready for the new school year the list is one more stressful thing.

An antidote to the rush and crush for families? A parish community that understands, supports, and knows just how to remedy the craziness of their families at this time of year. So I give you five ways to reach out to your families this fall to welcome and lead them gently and compassionately to Jesus who desires to be at the heart of every person and every family.

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5 Ways to Turn Youth Ministry On Its Head

Posted on August 5, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Where were you on 9/11? Most of us reading this can tell a vivid story our experience that tragic day. Ask a teenager that same question. Most of them won’t have an answer because they were far too young to remember or weren’t even born yet. From security to the way we consume media and information, there have been seismic shifts in the culture since most of us were teenagers. While the culture seems to change in dramatic ways every year, the way we minister to teens has changed very little. I had to humbly face the fact that I had been running the same youth group for eight years with only cosmetic changes. Worse, I was running the youth group I went to when I was in high school.

youth ministryIn the midst of identify this problem and my own soul searching and Google searching, I discovered YDisciple, an online platform designed to enable parishes to engage and train other adults in the parish to mentor small groups of teenagers with training, videos for discussion, well-crafted discussion questions, and more. Through five basic steps, God turned my entire paradigm of youth ministry on its head.

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Why You Don’t Need a Youth Minister

Posted on July 25, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

youth minister

This blog is Part One of two pieces. Part Two will post on Saturday.

Like many Youth Ministers, I was hired in my early twenties and fresh out of college. Zealous, energetic, and immature, I was handed a floundering youth ministry program in a parish with over 450 high school students on the books. After nine years in that same suburban parish cluster, I still I loved my job. I loved putting on my weekly youth group that we had grown to reach over 100 teens. I loved working with my Core Team of young adults. The mission trips, the World Youth Day pilgrimages, the retreats—I loved it all. But after nine years of watching the vast majority of even our most engaged teens go off to college and stop practicing the faith, I had to honestly ask myself: “Is my work as a Youth Minister effective?”

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