Fun Advent Activities and Resources for Your Family

Posted on November 24, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Advent is that time of year where we long for the coming of our Lord, the arrival of something and someone bigger than ourselves.

As we enter into Advent this coming Sunday, here are some ways to celebrate and enjoy the gift of the season:

Activities for Families

  • OrnamentsRead the Christmas story in the Bible together as a family and ask everyone to talk about what the gift of Jesus means to them.
  • Visit a “live” Nativity scene and talk about how incredible it is that God came to us as a baby to save the world.
  • Write a letter together to troops stationed overseas wishing them a Merry Christmas.
  • Print and download these Advent saint ornaments and use them to decorate your tree. Click here.
  • Serve a meal together at your local homeless shelter.

Ways to Serve

  • Get a group together and go Christmas caroling at a retirement home. Ask the residents to join and spend time visiting with them afterwards.
  • Chances are that there are organizations in your town that take meals out to the homeless. Find one near you and volunteer to cook or deliver a meal.
  • Donate or volunteer with an organization like Angel Tree or Salvation Army that provides gifts and aid to the less fortunate during the holidays.

Free Printable Advent Calendars

  • Advent CalendarThis Nazareth to Bethlehem Advent Calendar serves as a great reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Click here and print one for your family.
  • This Advent Calendar lets you create your own activities for each day, which keep you focused on celebrating all Advent long. Click here for print and assembly instructions.
  • This Advent Calendar features simple, beautiful, red and white designs, and can be filled with activities and treats. Click here for print and assembly instructions.
  • Need more ideas? Click here for thirty more Advent Calendar ideas to inspire you.

Follow our Advent Activities Pinterest Board for more ideas all month long!

Getting Connected

Posted on November 18, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Getting Connected

Technology has become the medium in how we primarily communicate with each other. For many parishes, what is the norm for society in general isnt necessarily the modus operandi for passing on information to its parishioners. Using technology is a paradigm shift from the way things have always been done.

Download the full article and learn how to use technology best practices to communicate with your parishioners.

Download Full Article

Featured Bulletin Makeover: St. Joachim

Posted on October 30, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

St. Joachim Catholic Church in Hayward, CA, is a bilingual community united in faith and guided by the Holy Spirit. Needing to communicate in two languages, their bulletin editor was challenged with incorporating double the copy and still making a coherent bulletin.

Here are a few techniques that helped unite the communication as one bulletin:

  • Created a new masthead that reflects the community’s diversity that can easily be used on the church website and other communications
  • Created a half-page space for art on the cover that can be changed out each week with a variety of images from Art & Media Portal
  • Used columns to combine pages so the entire community can read messages and articles side by side each week
  • Added more photos, simple lines, and spacing in the makeover to improve the flow and allow white space to be used more effectively

Five Tips for Building Vibrant Church Greeters

Posted on October 14, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Woman greeting at churchChurch greeters are a vital part of your parish ministry and a successful greeter team can help grow your church. Greeting is an opportunity to express God’s love through Christ and to help set the tone before Mass for parishioners and guests.

1. Make a plan

People respond to leadership and are more likely to take this ministry seriously if you have a plan in place. Prepare a simple list of responsibilities for new greeters. Always smile, make eye contact, and provide welcoming gestures like opening the door for everyone. Provide examples on what to say when greeting parishioners and guests. Create a rotating schedule that makes it flexible and easy for volunteers to participate.

2. Share your vision 

Greeting is a simple act, but one that can mean the difference between whether a visitor comes back next week or ever. Communicate with your team that you want everyone who visits your church to feel like they belong. Visitors should be greeted with warm smiles and welcoming gestures. Always refer to visitors as “guests” to follow the warm welcome approach.

3. Lead by example

Provide shadow training for new greeters. Team each new greeter with an experienced greeter during a Mass to help them learn how to put the simple list of responsibilities in action. Provide examples of preferred greeting phrases like:

If you haven’t seen the guest before, instead of asking “Are you new here?” say”I don’t think we’ve met yet, I’m John” or “It’s great to see you! Welcome.”

If you have seen the guest before say something like “Good morning Mary, good to see you again” or “Welcome Bob, it’s great to have you.” It’s ok if you can’t remember their name right away, what’s important is that people know that you are being actively inviting to them personally.

4. Seek out people who are naturally friendly

Identify people in your church who are naturally outgoing and personally ask them if they would use their gift to welcome people into God’s house.

5. Encourage one another

Any ministry can be discouraging at times, and greeting is no exception. Not everyone you talk to is going to be as friendly as you are and not everyone is going to come back. It’s important to take time to celebrate guests who return, share positive stories as a greeter, and encourage one another to keep up the good work.