Churches have parents walking inside their doors all the time. If it’s not regularly on Sunday, then it’s for baptisms, first communions, confirmations, and weddings.
For Catholics, these are four of the seven sacraments that are very highly regarded. Almost every Christian church celebrates baptisms and weddings. Even the most disconnected adults attend church for these sacraments, either for their own children or the children of others.
How do we intentionally connect and engage with parents during these events?
Regular parent gatherings.
Many sacramental preparation programs require some sort of meeting with the parents. Instead of just making these meetings informational, focus more on building relationships with them and having them connect with other parents. Yes, they do need information, but there are other ways to get that information that does not include a meeting. Have several of these parent gatherings during the year. As you build community with the parents, slowly take the opportunity to delve in deeper with them and encourage them to stay connected with the church after the sacrament is celebrated.
At any event that parents attend, but especially the celebration of the sacrament itself, make sure everyone feels welcome and included. During a baptism, for instance, don’t forget that it is not just the parents of the child being baptized that are in attendance. There are many others parents there to support the family. Good hospitality makes or break these types of celebrations and can go a long way to building a reputation that parents (and everyone) talk about. Good hospitality opens the doors to connecting with parents later.
We should have great liturgy every week. When we celebrate these special events, however, we need to recognize that there will be many people in attendance that don’t normally come to church. Take advantage of that opportunity.
When my wife and I got married, we recognized it not only as our wedding day, but a day where we could influence what others think about our church and what it means to be Catholic. We scripted out a liturgy with great music, memorable rites and rituals, and a touching homily.
We were very intentional about providing an opportunity of what a good church could be like. We received numerous comments after our celebration stating that our wedding was the best Catholic mass they have ever attended. That meant a lot to my wife and I and hopefully it served as a catalyst for them to connect with the church and become engaged.
Question: In what ways have you taken advantage of these sacraments to connect and engage with parents?
Here is a summary of posts for “The How-To Guide To Engaging Our Parents in Ministry” series:
- The How-To Guide To Engaging Our Parents in Ministry: Part 1
- It’s All About Dialogue – The How-To Guide To Engaging Our Parents in Ministry: Part 2
- Connect Parents with Parents – The How-To Guide To Engaging Our Parents in Ministry: Part 3
- Listening to Parents: The How-To Guide To Engaging Our Parents in Ministry: Part 4
- Faith Is Not As Important As Soccer: The How-To Guide To Engaging Our Parents in Ministry: Part 5
- The Sacraments: The How-To Guide To Engaging Our Parents in Ministry: Part 6