One of the challenges of being quarantined is how to draw more seekers to our parish and our initiation process. Strategies for “marketing” ourselves are not different in principle during a pandemic than they are when life is normal. However, some of what we might have done in the past becomes even more critical when our parish activities are mostly shut down.
In recent months, pastoral leaders have realized how much more important communication is. Communication (and marketing) is vital for outreach and engagement as experienced through the surge of people embracing video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Google Hangouts, and even to the increased presence of social media and email blasts to get the the word out on latest parish announcements, e.g. resumption or suspension of public celebration of liturgy.
Though these services, many have been asking themselves, I know I have, “why haven’t we been using these tools before?”
In these days of Summer Ordinary Time, our lectionary readings show us Jesus utilizing the power of stories – parables – to connect with the people he encountered, and reaching out to potential seekers is no different.Telling stories is definitely a way for us to be creative!
Telling your RCIA story
Here are some blog posts that can help you think of creative ways to tell the story of your parish or the story of your initiation ministry:
- Example bulletin announcement for initiation ministry
- Why your RCIA bulletin announcement isn’t working — and what to do about it
- Why no one should join the RCIA
You can also tell stories through images. Even if you don’t have a lot of skill in graphic design, you can adapt templates from easy-to-use online services and then post your images on social media. Two free services to check out are Canva and Snappa.
Involve your whole parish in RCIA marketing
As you start developing more storytelling resources, consider tapping into parishioners who might be skilled and adept in helping the spirit of evangelization become flesh. Think of…
- photographers (who can capture where the Spirit is engaging with people, especially with the use of smartphones)
- videographers (to not only see, but also to hear the People of God in action)
- writers (especially to share the “why” in everything we do)
- designers and graphic artists/illustrators (Imagine how to breath new life into bulletins, websites, and even worship aids. These are (and can be) the hidden heroes who follow in the great and holy tradition of the Church, illuminating scripture and song with pen, ink and technology that “rouses the heart”. Two services to check out are Scribus (PC) and Swift Publishing (Mac).)
Finally, you have to plan to fail. I know that doesn’t sound very encouraging. But if you only plan to succeed, and then you don’t, you’ll likely get discouraged and quit trying. Remember the first disciples. They didn’t succeed on the first try. Or the second. Or the third. To be successful at something like this requires a kind of sporadic consistency. If your plans don’t work out the first time, start again. And again, if necessary. And yet again.
What have been some of your most successful communication strategies for your parish RCIA? What would you like to learn more about? Share your thoughts in the answers below!