The Exasperating Note on the Church Door: Why Parish Communication needs to move beyond the year 1999

On New Years Day I had the intention to attend Mass. There were however a few hindrances to this plan as I had a made the decision to see the fireworks at Midnight on New Years Eve. In full awareness of the ailments such a decision would incur (that is the inability to awaken before 11am) I knew I had to plan ahead. My parish had made it clear that they would only be celebrating Mass at the unforgiving hour of 9am. So started my internet quest for a local Mass time after 11am and I (surprisingly) found one on Thursday at noon close to home. I was delighted to receive my well needed beauty sleep and not so delighted to turn up to the aforementioned Church and find a shabby A4 paper sticky-taped to the door with the handwritten announcement “New Years Day Mass 9am”.

Welcome to 2015.

It feels like 1999.

This was the second time in a week I had turned up to a regular Mass time after researching it on the internet to find that it had been changed on turning up to the Church.  A note on the door might have worked for Luther but we live in 2015 – people are using the internet to find information and we are still resorting to post it notes on doors! It should not be a case of too bad for you, it should be a case of how can we best inform those outside the parish of their needs? How do we reach out? The internet IS the yellow pages, it IS the directory, it IS the encyclopaedia – parishes need to embrace this and use it. Why is parish communication stuck in 1999?

The internet has been around for long enough that Parishes should really be on board with its benefits in communication. Most parishes have a website but many do not use it to its full potential. It is a brilliant platform for communicating what the parish has to offer. The website is an essential place for pre-evangelisation – it is an interface for the non-Catholic with your parish - impressions are made before the person even walks through the door. People do their research online and a shabby and uninformative website reflects on a Church unwilling to invest time in welcoming others.

Parish priests are busy and frankly the internet is far beyond the skill set of many so it is worthwhile finding volunteers who know how to maintain and update a website. Parishes ask for volunteers for cleaning and music and this ministry is just as important. A little time every week can make a big difference, it means the website is not out of date and holds essential information.

There are some little things that can help maintain a website:

  • Publish changes to regular Mass times and Special Seasons (Christmas, Easter etc)
  • When information changes don’t just change it on the bulletin, change it on the website
  • Regularly post News and consistently upload weekly Bulletins
  • Easy navigation for newcomers

Some EXTRA helpful ideas -

  • Blog the Sunday Homily
    Outsiders can read the preaching the Church has to offer. If the Parish Priest does not write it down see if it is possible to record it. Parishioners may also be interested in listening to what their Parish Priest said, especially if they could not make it to the Parish that week.
  • Share photos
    The Parish is about Community. Sharing photos of Parish Events gives newcomers an idea of what to expect.

  • Get a Parish Facebook Page
    Facebook is like an online bulletin board. Although not everyone is on facebook, it is a good tool for posting news, sharing photos and updates for people who want them.

This way of communicating sure beats the handwritten note on the Church door.

church door