The best story I've found supporting a gift shop in your parish
Written by Eric Haselhorst
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 13:04
Make no mistake I am a huge supporter of every Catholic Parish having a gift shop. Or even a group of parishes teaming up create gift shop. "WhaaAAAaaaat? You want my parish to set aside space and resources to sell gifts?" NO! Not at all, I want each parish to set aside space and resources to people like me can go "gift shop" and uncover what I am called to do for Jesus.
This idea comes from a parish on the east coast I read about a long time ago. Basically the parish took the junk they sold in their "gift shop" out. Then, set a desk in there with a woman who had the job of helping parishioners discover their own unique gifts...in the "gift shop". Very clever.
I believe there is so much potential wasted in our world due to people having no idea what their gifts are. We moan and groan in parish leadership that no one will "step up" for various ministries. But if I am setting in the pew and do not know I have a particular skill at something I'm volunteering. Why would I? This is where gifts discernment comes in. To help people discover who God wants them to be.
Imagine this conversation between a 30 something Catholic woman and her protestant friends at a child's birthday party.
Kacey: Steph you seem to be happier lately. What's going on?
Steph: I discovered I have a gift for communication. It seemed speaking came easy for me but I learned it is a gift and now I have the confidence to do it more. It has made a difference at home and work and wow is it fun.
Kacey: Wow where did you learn this about yourself. Sounds interesting.
Steph: Oh yeah. I learned it at my church, St. . They started this new program to help people find their gifts and I am so glad I went through it.
This can be an actual conversation! And I believe it is desperately needed. Each of us is searching for meaning in this life beyond the practical necessities of daily living. Both Time and the Wall Street Journal reported that over all happiness peaks around $75,000 per year per household (heck even Malcolm Gladwell in his book David and Goliath referenced 73k as the top of the inverted U shaped curve). More than 75k does not increase happiness, it only means more stuff and dinners out.
With the last four sentences in mind, if parishioners, by and large, have met their happiness factor regarding money, why do I sense so much restlessness otherwise? It is a lack of purpose, a lack of calling, a lack of knowing where I fit in and what God may have me to do for him.
Consider how valuable knowing our gifts is with this parable by Mark Twain taken from Strengths finder 2.0 pg 29
Our natural talents and passions – the things we truly love to do – last for a lifetime. But all too often, our talents go untapped. Mark Twain once described a man who died and met Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. Knowing that Saint Peter was very wise, the man asked a question that he had wondered about throughout his life.
He said, “Saint Peter, I have been interested in military history for many years. Who was the greatest general of all time?”
Saint Peter quickly responded, “Oh that’s a simple question. It’s that man right over there.”
“You must be mistaken.” Responded the man, now very perplexed. “I knew that man on earth, and he was just a common laborer.”
“That’s right my friend,” assured Saint Peter. “he would have been the greatest general of all time, if he had been a general.”
It is time to stop wasting time. Get a system in place to help parishioners discover what God called them to do. What he gave them, and a safe place to try them out.
Before I let the cat out of the bag so to speak, I give you this brief intro complements of Seth Godin’s blog post 1/8/14. Read the full post here
Let's agree on two things:
1. There are thousands of times as many things available to read as there were a decade ago. It's possible that in fact there are millions as many.
2. Now that everyone can write, publish, email you stuff and generally make noise, everyone might and many people already are.
As a result, there's too much noise, too much poorly written, overly written, defensively written and generally useless stuff cluttering your life.
If Seth’s statements are accurate, and I believe they are, then how does each Catholic Parish wade through the noise to be heard by parishioners? Often when I speak to an audience about communication I use the analogy of a Facebook newsfeed. Most people I know have 300+ friends, “like” several pages, are involved in groups, plus FB places ads in our newsfeed. With all that clutter to scroll through there is no way our attention can be given to each item. So what do we do? Scroll through the feed reading 5% of the content ignoring 95%. And reading 5% is generous IMO.
Unless the content our parish communicates to the people is interesting, well written, and well spoken, what a parish says will largely be ignored.
To be heard, follow these three steps:
Write and speak well. Telling me how much the parish needs something or someone is not inspiring, it is needy. Use words of invitation and gratitude. Do it well.
Don’t fact or guilt me. Most people in the pews are intelligent enough, maybe not catechized well but intelligent. Using facts and stats to back up a cause is great for my brain but not for my heart. If guilt is the best we can do, it is likely I’m walking away with no long term commitment to whatever the parish is doing.
Tell me a story. I want, no, I need to hear how the gospel helped a fellow parishioner through a situation. I need to hear how Dave or Harley or Tinker (an actual name of a woman I met) or Angie took what was preached at Mass and used it in everyday life.
Get the right person for announcements. If your priest is not inspired by the content of the announcements, the people listening will not be inspired either.
These tips will not work their magic overnight. It will take time. But if they tips are ignored nothing will change. What do we to lose?
For Facebook aficionados: After I wrote this I learned via Facebook expert Amy Porterfield that if your organization is not posting regularly and working to get "likes" and interaction, your posts may not be seen in your fans Facebook feeds anyway! FB algorithms partially predetermine what I get to see based on what your organization is doing and how vibrant it is.
If I have heard it once I have heard it 1000 times, "we can't get people to show up to _____________________________ event at our parish". Why? Frankly we are using an outdated formula with carrots and sticks. The old formula worked something like this:
provide pizza and pop or wine and cheese (depending on the target audience of cource) -- a reward
wait for people to show up
For a couple of decades this formula worked brilliantly and suddenly it didn't. What happened? The nature of what we do for a living, the way we spend out time changed and the system in our parishes did not. The mindset did not evolve. Luckily for us there are thinkers in the secular world that have discovered what happened and how to fix it. The video below presents ideas for business but I think they have tremendous value in the church world. To get to the punch line fast forward to 12:40. The "fix" is presented from that point forward.
After watching this video, please post comments if you agree or disagree and why. Thanks so much!
To learn in depth about motivation read Daniel's book Drive. It is well done.
What if our parish created a ministry that would help people remove noise and clutter from their lives and handle stress better. Think it would get any traction? I "like" TED on Facebook and this video popped into my news feed. TED talks catch my imagination so I gave this one a listen and I found fascinating. I watched and wondered how our parishes could take this idea and create a meaningful way to help their harried, over scheduled, hyperactive parishioners. Seriously, have we looked at ministry as treating the whole person? A very good argument could be made along this line of thinking, can we minister to the spiritual without ministering to the whole person.
For example, our parish needs money so Father and lays witnesses, maybe a finance council member make the ask. If we over extended, over mortgaged, credit card swiping under income middle class there is a good chance the "ask" will fall on deaf ears. Perhaps personal finance workshops or debt reduction lessons are in order. FPU anyone? How about this? A husband and wife show up to Mass after a delicious argument over a mother in law. Reckon the "ask" for a catechist will be heard? How about the Five Love Languages Or Marriage For Keeps on an annual rotation.
I think Pope France is right. A poor church for the poor. Not just the monetarily poor but he poor in spirit, the poor in parenting, the poor in stress management. The new evangelization is a golden opportunity to think different. To connect people to people who are the Church.
What clever ways can a parish connect and minister where you live? Please leave your comments in the comment box.
My writing has been a bit sporadic, that I regret. But today I was truly inspired by a blog post I read by Seth Godin. This excerpt caught my attention. If readers follow my hap hazard posts it should be noted I love reading secular ideas and applying them to our faith. Some of the smartest ways to communicate our faith come from outside, not within our walls and here is what I gleaned this morning.
I called this post, "An end" as opposed to "the end." As always, we'll reinvent. We still need ideas, and ideas need containers. We've developed more and more ways for those ideas to travel and to have impact, and now it's up to us to figure out how to build an ecosystem around them.
This one sentence sums up perfectly the call to action we have in about every Catholic Parish I work with or have attended. "We still need ideas, and ideas need containers." While our doctrine and church teaching does not change, the vessel in which our parishioners receive it has. Take this example. We committed parishioners hear "We need more bible study". So we gin up a bible study, publish and market the heck out it. The first night of our rebranded bible study we know what happens, crickets chirping. That's right the same faces that show up to everything arrive. The vessel did not change but the audience we wanted did.
The second most important sentence that inspired me is this, "As always, we'll reinvent". This is so important. With no doubt the people that should attend our parishes, that need ministry are absent. To reinvent how we reach these people is the hope that Jesus inspires. Could rehashing an old system work? Perhaps. But clearly brand new ways of ministry are necessary. This will take real risk. The waters ahead are very much uncharted and we Catholics are not only resistant to change, it is not uncommon to shun the change makers to keep the status quo.
The stories in the bible are full of what I write about. Jesus was a change maker, he risked all, he was shunned. Being faithful to His call, doing things no one else would do created the faith we share today. Time to change containers.
I am huge fan of using technology to make life easier. Hey, if we are going to live stewardship, then using available resources to make ministry easier, better, faster etc only makes sense. Fr. Wesley asked Jared Stremel, summer intern, and I if we could help him solve an interesting problem. He was seeking a solution to help him fill open positions at a special mass just for priests. What he wanted was a resource that would allow him to create an electronic form that would allow his brother priests to see what amount positions needed to be filled in real time. For example, Father Wesley wants 5 Eucharistic ministers. A web based product would be created to indicate he wants 5 volunteers. As Priests filled those positions the form would automatically calculate available spots so other priests could see what was left. And all this would be done automatically in a second. Plus, the form would be emailed or placed on his webpage.
The solution we found easily is Sign Up Genius www.signupgenius.com. This free solution allows Father Wesley to create a form that meets his needs as stated above. In addition, if Fr. Wesley wanted to, he could set up the form to automatically send out an email reminder to volunteers so they do not forget what they signed up for.
I have not tested this software myself and this is one of many solutions. So visit the site and see if this solution can benefit your ministry.
If readers see this solution as a benefit, please post comments in the comment box so others can see actual results from users in the diocese.