Welcome Back Your Parishioners
It is vital for parishes to plan out how they intend to welcome parishioners back safely after restrictions ease. We have a 5 step strategy guide to ensure effective communications is achieved over a variety of different formats reaching the highest amount of people as possible. This article outlines a general plan, feel free to take the information that will be relevant to your specific parish.
Priority #1: Create your one-page welcome back strategy.
Have a general plan of how you intend to welcome parishioners back safely to your parish. This one-page strategy guide will affect how you communicate on all remaining formats and guides your welcome back strategy. We have created a one-page template that helps outline how you intend to achieve this.
Download the One-Page Welcome Back Strategy Plan to enact in your parish now. Ensure printed copies are available at your parishes, available on your website, and emailed out to all parishioners for maximum impact.
Priority #2: Create a welcome committee.
Consider starting a welcoming committee for your parish. These individuals would be responsible for assisting in effective communications and safe environments to ensure a smooth transition. These individuals would help assist the parish pastor in doing the tasks required such as phoning and emailing parishioners. Consider a team of one to four to help on this important project.
Priority #3: Communicate with phone calls.
It is the responsibility of the parish pastor to ensure parishioners are properly being invited and communicated to for a safe return to the parish. An important way of achieving this is through calling each individual parishioner to personally invite them back to the parish. Even if the parishioner is already attending every Sunday, it’s still important to ask them how they are doing with the gradual return back to the parish. Before phoning parishioners, ensure;
- Establish a system to keep post-call notes to write down any prayers or follow-ups needed to help you remember.
- Write down the spiritual resources your parish community is able to offer in need. Opportunity to set up a Zoom call with a priest? Prayer intentions? Confession?
- Make sure to think of frequently asked questions and your responses to them before starting to call.
- Have your one-page strategy plan beside you and communicate how you will ensure the safe return of all parishioners.
Download our example call script for contacting your parishioners. Feel free to edit the script to further fit the needs of your parish. Before calling individuals ensure the following:
- Do not question if parishioners have been vaccinated or not.
- Do not pass judgment or question why parishioners have not attended in a while.
- Larger parishes should consider also using their welcome committee to contact all parishioners.
- Ensure you have permission to contact the parishioners.
Priority #4: Communicate on digital media.
One way you can welcome back parishioners to your parish is by recording a welcome video and using this video on your parish, emails, and website. You can use our Eparchial Communications department green screen room to help record, edit, and post the videos for free after emailing email@example.com to book a time.
Post all communications online, including your one-page welcome back strategy in how you intend to ensure parishioners can return safely. Ensure this is posted on your parish website, social media, and emailed out to all parishioners to further reach the individuals who are not physically present in the parish.
Priority #5: Further innovative communications styles.
Every week, have a small interview with a parishioner about how they are returning back to the parish. Every week, feature a parishioner answering a question of “what did you miss most about our parish?”, “What does the Eucharist mean to you?”, and “what makes our parish family unique?”. Put these testimonials in your bulletin, post them on your website, and share them on your social media to reach the most amount of people. Feel free to also share these with the Eparchial Communications office (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can share them as well.
One possible way to reach parishioners is by using a traditional mailout campaign. This method would include mailing out a letter or invitation to your parishioners inviting them back to attend the parish. Consider asking an organization like the UCWLC in your parish to help deliver these letters to your parishioners. Inform parishioners you will be stopping by and delivering the letters personally to their door. If funds are available, you could also mail them out.