Vacation time is over. Kids are headed back to school. Families are settling in to their “real life” routines and are getting back to church. You know what that means for your parish! This month and into the fall your attendance will be increasing after summer lulls. And families will be getting excited about the fall activities you have planned.
So how can you get prepared for the “back to church” season? We’ve got six questions you need to be asking right now.
- “Is my parish fully staffed with volunteers?”
Do you tend to see Sunday attendance drop during summertime as folks take time off and travel? As families settle back into their routines after summer vacations and are back to church, your Sunday attendance will return to normal. And that means you’ll need to make sure your volunteer teams are fully staffed so all your parishioners are welcomed. Specifically, you should:
- Add additional greeters and volunteers at sign-in desks and welcome kiosks to answer questions and greet new guests.
- Make sure you have volunteers for youth programs, religious education, small groups, and service ministries that take place throughout the week.
- Use your church management software (ChMS) volunteer scheduling feature to make sure your team is where they need to be, when you need them.
Of course, you can’t just magically increase the number of volunteers you have available. Reach out to your parishioners! Make sure to mention volunteer opportunities during Sunday Mass, in your bulletin, and via social media.
You can also use ChMS communication tools to send out targeted emails, text messages or phone calls to parishioners who have expressed interest in volunteering. You can also develop and send communications to your entire email list, sharing volunteer opportunities and encouraging back to church participation.
- “Are my parish’s security protocols up-to-date?”
Unfortunately, increased attendance means more opportunities for a security breach. To keep your parish safe, focus on these tasks:
- Check your security measures to make sure all cameras and check-in kiosks are operating correctly.
- Are you adding new fall events to the parish calendar? Make sure to adjust your security personnel numbers accordingly to account for these extra times.
- Update the website with details on how you keep children safe during your activities.
- Utilize a check-in process from your ChMS.
- Outline the check-in process so parents know what to expect. This will put families with children at ease, and let people know if processes have changed.
- “Has my parish conducted background checks on new volunteers and staff, and re-checks for those who currently serve?”
This goes right along with your security protocols but deserves special mention. Your parish has an obligation to exercise due diligence with regards to safety and security. This is especially true for ministries dedicated to children and young people. That means thorough background checks for volunteers and staff are essential.
Conducting background checks can ward off predators before they threaten your congregation. People up to no good will avoid background checks altogether.
ParishSOFT’s Safe Environment Program is designed to ensure that parishes and ministries are secure. Protection strategies include:
- Initial background checks for staff and volunteers.
- Rescreening all volunteers and staff each year.
- Training programs and procedures to ensure that potential threats are not missed.
- Tracking of status, completions, errors, issues, expirations, and re-certifications.
- “What about our parish’s mobile app? Is it up to date? Does it even exist?”
Hopefully you have an active mobile app that kept families connected to your parish over the summer. Put it to work for your fall events and ministries! Your app is a great way to inform parishioners about upcoming fall events. You can remind them as well with push notifications. And of course, event registration and check-in is a breeze with your app.
If your parish doesn’t have an app, what are you waiting for? Your parishioners use apps for every part of their lives – entertainment, shopping, travel, and much more. They’ll appreciate an app that keeps them connected to parish events and ministries.
ParishSOFT offers the MinistryOne app as an add-on, customizable feature. It offers a personalized app with media capabilities; event registration, payment, and check-in options; and livestreaming. Get started now, and your app can quickly be ready to introduce to your parish.
- “Does my parish have a plan to increase online giving after summer’s offertory decreases?”
After the summer rush, fall is a great time to talk about eGiving. You can let people know that it’s a great way to provide steady, consistent support to the parish. Even if they can’t attend Mass in person, their stewardship will continue.
Be upfront with your parishioners! If you saw a decline in summer offertory (like most parishes do), let them know. Explain that recurring gifts are a way to sustain ministries, even when people are out of town or unable to attend. Missed Sundays from over the summer will be on their minds. Let people know how much their eGiving will help the ministries they care about!
- “Is my parish actively reaching out to and engaging with potential new members?”
As you welcome parishioners back to church and they engage in regular activities, think about how you can grow the parish with new members. There are likely families who just moved to your area; they’re getting settled in, have their kids in school, and now need a parish home!
Plus, families in your community will be looking for fun fall activities. Your fall festivals and youth programs could be a great way to connect with them.
So how to connect? There are several ways:
- Make sure your parish website is updated and easy to navigate. This is how many people will first “meet” your ministries.
- Use social media to highlight your upcoming events and current ministries.
- Make sure your livestream is welcoming and engaging. It’s another “first impression” opportunity for new parishioners.
- Have your most outgoing volunteers ready to greet newcomers every Sunday morning.
It all seems like a lot of work. And it is! But with the right ChMS tools you can surge into the fall season. Let ParishSOFT show you how. Contact us today at 866-930-4774 x6 or online at parishsoft.com/contact-us. We’d love to share how ParishSOFT can help your ministries!