March 7 – Fourth Monday of Lent

Posted on March 7, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

presentGodToday’s Gospel

“’Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe,’ (John 4:48).”

Daily Lent Reflection

Imagine what it would have been like to witness one of Jesus’ miracles. What difference would it have made to your faith in God? Do you think you would have been amazed or do you think you would have been skeptical that there was some other explanation for what had happened?

Nowadays people think there is a scientific explanation for everything, which enables them to deny the existence of God. Christians, however, believe that God is ever-present in the world, performing miracles all the time and you just need to see the signs!

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I will spend a few moments thinking about a miracle of God that I have witnessed recently and give thanks to Him.

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

March 6 – Fourth Sunday of Lent

Posted on March 6, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

prodigalSonsToday’s Gospel

“’But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found,’ (Luke 15:32).”

Daily Lent Reflection

Today we have the story of the prodigal son/loving father. It is a familiar narrative. The elder son is jealous of his younger brother and his father’s generosity. Are we the same? Do we forget the abundance God showers upon us and the great mercy shown us throughout our lives? We are called to respond with great mercy towards others.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I will ask myself if I have I ever felt resentment towards someone because I didn’t think they deserved to be rewarded? I will try to feel pleased for that person and give thanks to God for their gifts.

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

Three Ways Online Giving Helps Your Parishioners

Posted on March 1, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Using an online giving tool like WeShare has obvious benefits for your parish—more consistent giving, less time spent counting donations, and less paperwork for your staff. But how does it help your parishioners?

Here are three ways giving online is good for your parishioners:

  1. Giving is WorshipOnline giving can help build a closer relationship with God.
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    If we truly believe, as the New Testament states that “all good giving and every perfect gift” is given to us by our Creator (James 1:17), then everything we have in life—our job, our life, and our bank account is all from God.
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    So when we are giving to our church or to people in need, we are not giving “our money,” we are giving back to God what is his to begin with.
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    Giving then becomes an act of faith because we believe that God will provide for all of our needs. Recurring giving becomes a continual act of faith and worship. All giving draws us closer to God and helps align our hearts to the idea that he is in control of all things and everything is in his hands.
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  2. Every Church on MissionOnline giving builds a deeper relationship with the mission of your church.
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    As parishioners make the decision to give to the church, they begin to feel more invested in the direction and spiritual health of the parish. And as they give more frequently and consistently, the act of giving actually becomes an act of worship, putting God first in their lives as they fulfill his mission in their local church.
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    The Book of Matthew tells us that “’where your treasure is, there also will your heart be,’ (Mat 6:21)” and there is no better place for parishioners’ hearts to be than focused on God and the mission of His church.
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  3. Make Life EasierOnline giving makes life easier for your parishioners.
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    Online giving can help build a closer relationship with God and invest parishioners in the mission of the church, which are great spiritual reasons to do it. But online giving also makes parishioners’ lives easier, so it really is a win-win situation for everyone.
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    • First, recurring giving saves time because your parishioners don’t have to worry about looking for their envelope and checkbook every week in the mad dash to church. Everything is set up in a few minutes online.
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    • Second, parishioners no longer have to worry about making up for donations on weeks they were home sick, on vacation, or attending to personal matters. Their support to their parish continues even when they can’t be in the pew on Sunday.
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    • Lastly, they can make changes at any time to their account and easily receive communication from the parish when new collections, events, and registrations are added. With many platforms, including WeShare, even buying tickets for events and registering for classes which used to mean filling out a long paper form and making a special trip to the church office, can now be done in minutes from the comfort of home.

If you’re currently looking for an online giving tool and would like more information about how WeShare can make online giving and event registrations easy for your church, sign up for a free webinar here, or fill out a Contact Us request.

To read what other parishes across the country are saying about WeShare, click here for testimonials.

 

What Does Faith Have to Do With Football?

Posted on February 5, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

SuperbowlSocialMore than 100 million viewers worldwide will watch the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos face off in Super Bowl 50 this Sunday in Santa Clara, CA. A few days later, millions of Catholics worldwide will fill churches on Ash Wednesday to receive the sign of the cross in ashes on their foreheads.

To some, the Super Bowl is just a game. But even games can teach us valuable spiritual lessons if we pay close enough attention.

Here are four characteristics shared by athletes and disciples:

Teamwork

No man gets to the Super Bowl alone—he has a dedicated team of individuals who are of one like mind, working together, and pursuing the same goal. Individual effort matters, but even quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Cam Newton must have receivers who can catch their passes. Every player has a place and every man is important to the success of the team.

The same is true in the church. In 1 Corinthians 12:9, Paul explains how just as “a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” We come together to be one body in Christ and we are most effective when we work together just as God always intended.

Every pastor needs a team of people around him to support his mission. Every ministry leader, volunteer, staff member, mother, father, and person in the pews contribute to the success of the parish. Every disciple has his or her place in God’s kingdom and God works through each of them.

Leadership

Every successful NFL team needs a coach to develop strategies and plays to win on Sunday. That strategy is then communicated to everyone on the team. In addition to the coach, there are leaders on the field who execute the coach’s strategies and are responsible for “rallying the troops” to be their very best and achieve victory.

Parishes have similar levels of leadership. Every Sunday, the pastor shares the word of God and how the lessons of the Gospel can be applied in our everyday lives. Deacons, ministry leaders, and other leaders continue to drive that message home to parishioners throughout the week and “rally the troops” for Jesus.

As disciples, we are each called to be leaders right where we are, sharing the word of God and carrying out the mission of the church. We are also called to make disciples for Christ, teaching them how to recognize the voice of God and to follow him.

Sacrifice

Many NFL players have been playing the game since they were children, spending countless hours reviewing plays, exercising, practicing, and playing the game they love. This requires time away from their families, countless long days and nights, and puts a physical toll on their bodies that can last a lifetime.

Discipleship always comes with a cost. When Jesus called the first disciples, he asked many of them to walk away from their lives and follow him and he often asks us to do the same. Many left behind jobs and families, and all but one of the Apostles lost their life for the cost of Christ.

Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 16:24 that anyone who wishes to follow him “must deny himself, [and] take up his cross.” No sacrifice is too big and this is a war against our human nature. But it is a war in which God himself fights for us.

Discipline

The words “disciple” and “discipline” share the same root and both refer to teaching, suffering, and correction in pursuit of perfection. Pro football players spend their entire lives training their bodies and minds to achieve athletic perfection.

Disciples spend their entire spiritual lives training their body, mind, and spirit to conform to the will of God. This is a daily practice that should encompass every area of our lives with the goal of our outer actions reflecting the inner change made in us through Christ.

We pursue holiness at all costs in hopes of one day receiving eternal life in Heaven—a far greater prize than any Super Bowl ring.

 

Four Reasons Churches Don’t Change (Even When They Need To)

Posted on January 12, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

ChurchThere’s one difference between God and the Church: God doesn’t need to change. But, the most effective and successful churches are constantly changing. The message and the mission never change- that’s a God thing- but the methods and techniques we use to communicate that mission/message are in constant need of re-shaping to reach the ever-changing identity of the lost in every time and place.

Here are four real-life obstacles every church leader needs to be prepared for if you’re trying to transition your church.

Click here to read the full post

Pope Francis: “What is love?”

Posted on January 8, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

popeLove was the center of Pope Francis’ second daily homily after taking a break for Christmas, and is a word he said has become so casual that we no longer know exactly what we mean when we say it.

“This word ‘love’ is a word that is used so many times and when we use it we don’t know exactly what it means. What is love?” the Pope said during his Jan. 8 daily Mass in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse.

Click to read the full post on Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis’ Ten New Year’s Resolutions For You

Posted on January 5, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

We’re already a few days into the New Year, but it’s not too late to make your resolutions. If you need some help, here are some ideas from the Holy Father himself.

Here are ten things Pope Francis called upon Vatican employees to do in a meeting held before Christmas:

Pope Francis1. “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”

2. “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”

3. “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”

4. “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”

5. “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”

6. “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”

7. “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”

8. “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”

9. “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

10. “Making sure your Christmas is about Jesus and not about shopping.”

 

Photo credit: Getty Images

Community Spotlight: Batman Rosary Signals Prayer In A Dark Night

Posted on December 4, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

RosaryIf Batman were Catholic, you’d no doubt find this in his utility belt. However, this Batman-themed Rosary can be found on the wall of the cafeteria of St. Pius X Catholic School in Greensboro, NC. The Rosary was designed for graduate, Matthew Basel. Matthew was recently diagnosed with cancer- Ewing’s Sarcoma. Matthew is now a sophomore in college, but St. Pius does not forget its own.

Click here to read the full post

Remembering Our Brothers and Sisters in San Bernardino

Posted on December 4, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

This past Wednesday, our brothers and sisters in San Bernardino endured an unspeakable tragedy and so many innocent lives were cut short. In response, LPi created a free bulletin cover so that any church who wanted to could honor those fallen in thoughts and prayer.

PC040029-smThe Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth, MN, took that image and has put it on display at their entrances as a reminder of those lost and as a reminder that even when tragedies occur, God is our ever-present help and our stronghold.

If your church is also doing something special, please share your stories so that we can all stand together as one to embrace the community in San Bernardino.