For the last few years I have made fast food joints the devil in my mind. Making these places out to be evil helps me stay out of them. No they are not really evil places it is only a Jedi mind trick I play on myself to stay healthy and off high blood pressure meds.
That being said, if I am traveling solo somewhere I end up in...McDonalds and yes eat there. My motivation is to get the free wifi. No matter where I go I can count on Micky D to free up my data plan. Plus I can whip out my laptop and work, serf, or anything else I want. I LOVE free wifi.
On my last work trip I had a bit of extra time time to kill so bellied up to a burger and wifi at the Garden City Golden Arches. As I sat there checking email and my Facebook status I wondered how this experience of free wifi and McDonalds would work as a metaphor for our Catholic Churches.
At first my mind wondered over to the Eucharist. My love/hate relationship with fast food could be akin to church/Eucharist. I love free wifi/avoid fast food. Then you have a number of people that love the Eucharist but don't like church.
That works but is not what is on my heart. There has to be more to this than that simple analogy.
Then I asked "what is our Catholic Parishes wifi?" What do we offer people that is so irresistible people show up despite hesitation. McDonald's offers people like me that avoid the food...wifi.
I will tolerate the food in order to get what I really want which is unabated internet access. SCORE!
What is our wifi? What do we offer Catholics whose relationship to Church is similar to my relationship to fast food? We could say Jesus Christ in the Eucharist which for the committed Catholics would be true. But what about the group of Catholics that do not believe in the real presence? What about the group that had a bad experience in the Church? What about the group that identifies themselves as spiritual but not religious?
We have a great opportunity to think different about ministry and what it means to be Church. Our core work, providing the sacraments and catechesis, will not change. But everything in between those two points can. It can include but is not limited to how we communicate, small group opportunities, community, outreach, mission work, relationship and on and on.
For the Catholics and other Christians we want to evangelize too, it is no longer good enough to get them involved. What is better is to add value to their lives by showing we, as Jesus representatives, we care. We care so much we will listen and walk with them. Help them on a journey of meaning to our Lord by accepting them where they are and lovingly bring them to understanding.
This begins with answering, what is our wifi?
Please leave a comment and share this with your friends. Eric
Tips to avoid a dumb story and when to have a good story at Mass
Written by Eric Haselhorst
Your stewardship council recruited 2 couples and a single person to share their faith story with the parish. They took the outlines and other resources and have crafted a story for the parish. They dutifully give the story and it totally bombs! What the heck?
If this has not happened at your parish it will. But! There are ways to avoid a bad lay witness talk in both content, and delivery. Plus get more bang from the story buck.
Video #4 in the Power of Stories in Stewardship Renewal are designed to help a parish look good and the story teller look and sound great. We will also uncover ways to get the story deep into the parish for maximum affect.
Watch this video then share it with your friends
Tips for Kids and Teens sharing their stories during stewardship renewal
Written by Eric Haselhorst
Ever thought of using kids as lay witnesses? We should for several reasons:
It gives teens (especially) a meaningful way to contribute to the parish
Often times children are not jaded by life and have an innocent way of speaking about Jesus
Their enthusiasm can be infection
Get the kids...get the parents
Kids are darn cute
Really though, a good portion of our parish isn't old enough to vote but they do have a story to tell. We need to hear how Jesus helps these people at the stage of life they are in. From exams and sports teams to the death of relative, divorce....you name it our young people have something to share.
In the final video in our series titled "The Power of Stories in Stewardship Renewal", learn how to have kids and teens share a faith story of stewardship through a live interview process and a traditional story.
How to over come..."I'm not a good Catholic" syndrome
Written by Eric Haselhorst
For well intentioned ministers in parishes or stewardship council ministers, the easiest part of the lay witness process is identifying candidates. The hard part is getting them to yes.
This happened just this year to me. My priest invited my a married couple who are friends of mine. My buddy called me and asked me what this lay witness thing is all about and followed up promptly with. "Eric, I'm not the holiest Catholic and I don't think I have much to share. My wife has more to share than I do". Subsequently they declined the invitation.
This is a very common reply. We see gifts that are all stewardship in the people we worship with. The problem is these same people cannot see them or place little value on them. Aaaaaahhhhhh!. This is so frustrating!
Video 3 in this series is designed to help you overcome the "I'm not holy enough" syndrome. Plus, I mention a couple resources to help you help your candidates write a story. This episode is content rich and designed to help you get people to yes.
Click the links below for resources for writing a story:
I walk through home shows and different events and I make eye contact with a salesman of sort. It is the kind of eye contact where the polite side of me says, "OK I'll listen to the spiel and be on my way". When said salesman is doe a normal reply I might give is "Thanks, that is interesting, I'll call you", or "Let me think about it and I'll get back to you". Translation: "Not only no but heck no am I calling you, I only listened to be polite".
This is a common experience when inviting lay witnesses to share their faith story with the parish. We are at home minding our own business and we get the call for the pitch: "Blah blah at our stewardship renewal". Us: "wow thanks we are honored you asked, let me talk to my husband and I'll get back to you". Translation: "Thanks for the invite church person, but I am not going to mention this to my husband and will forget you called in two seconds".
I may be exaggerating a little but I am closer to the truth than we would like to admit. The trouble we have recruiting lay witnesses is we don't ask well. Our questions are vague, language too big, and often we don't consider where the other person is spiritually. This is a recipe for disaster we repeat over and over in our parishes. It is time to start over.
Video #2 in our Series, "The Power of Stories in Stewardship Renewal", is designed to give practical steps to help our friends and neighbors say yes to an invitation to share their story. Plus, give helpful tips to ask as well.
When you are done watching, leave a comment of your experience that went well...or not so much.
Thanks for watching, Eric
How does a piranha live for 30 years?
Written by Eric Haselhorst
I remember at mission when I was kid. The priest was from the U.S. but had been serving people from Venezuela or some remote place in South America. I do not recall his name but recall very well his story of the piranha down to the accent he used when he said that word. He related the way a piranha devours it's pray to the way sin can consume us. What is interesting about this story is that....IT WAS OVER 30 Years ago I heard it.
That is the power people visiting with people can have.
In stewardship renewal, a part of that systematic effort is to have lay witnesses share their story of stewardship with the parish. The problem with lay witnesses is that it is a monumental pain the...yeah... to get our parishioners to give a talk. Much less a good one.
To help you create a parish where friends and neighbors can fall in love with Jesus I created a 5 part video series titled, The Power of Stories in Stewardship Renewal. People sharing faith stories with people can be very powerful. Think about it, when we make almost any decision from the purchase of a car or where is the best restaurant we ask our friends. We check Amazon reviews, Yelp and other places to see what others experience with this and that. Then we make our decision to buy, believe, or verify what is happening in our own lives.
A lay witness provides a similar experience for the people in the pews. "Jesus showed me the way when...", "I met my wife at the church social on...", "Adoration made a difference in my life because...".
Our stories share real experience by real people. This helps the rest of us grasp the awesome power of our Lord. But we don't tell stories leaving so many disconnected from Jesus. This video series is designed to help you bring those faith stories to the parish in simple easy to understand methods. Plus, you will learn how to ask, get people to yes, and help them create an amazing story designed to help people fall in love with Jesus.
Gen Y will come to Church, Here is How to Get em back
Written by Eric Haselhorst
In the 2013 and 2014 Bishop Brungardt hosted a series of dinners for small groups of random people across the diocese. The dinners were held in big towns, small towns, in all four corners and places in between in both Spanish and English.
The Goal was to see what is on the minds of the people in the pews. Each person was invited to share their hopes and dreams on note cards which I later organized to see what concerns, hopes are rising to the top. This would go on to help Bishop Brungardt prioritize his ministry.
Not counting the need for more Priests, that hope was echoed every place we went across all languages, three other topics emerged in each location and again in both Spanish and English.
After reading this article I immediately thought, “the 20 somethings are not the consumers my generation is and they still don’t come to church". "After all, aren’t the isms such as consumerism the driving factor why the 40ish something group don’t come to church?" If consumerism is not the reason Gen Y skips out then it is back to the drawing board.
The article explains four ways to sell stuff to Gen Y. We in parish life do not sell stuff, rather, promote a life in Jesus Christ. Below I take the four instructions companies use to sell stuff and reverse engineered them so parishes can help Gen Y see Jesus in us and grow in the relationship with him.
Flexibility – It is safe to say that Gen Y was not raised the way I was or as generations before. It is not all bad, it is not all good. It just is. Therefore we in church need to accept these people as they are where they are with no expectation their faith life will look like our own. Does Gen Y need to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet and pray the Rosary with regularity? Sure it would be nice but that is only two ways to pray. Exposing this group of people to a variety of ways to pray would be better and help them find what works best for them. Think flexible.
Vision – Why does a parish exist? Why does ministry in our parish exist? I firmly believe that a person whose relationship to Jesus, Mass, and Eucharist is flimsy, those wonderful things about our faith will not be enough to get them through our doors. Especially, if lack luster hospitality, poor music and preaching exist. Asking "why" is important so Gen Y can see the parish vision. The function of the parish in more than a series of motions on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The parish needs to show that the values it holds are bigger than it’s self.
Legacy – Many reading this grew up with this notion: Go to school and get good grades so we can go to a good college to get good job to save money for retirement and on and on. This whole idea is being abandoned by Gen Y. As a group, Gen Y needs more than good grades, money, and retirement at the end of the day. They are on a mission and want their lives to stand for more than traditional results of a life lived. A parish should help Gen Y create their legacy. Whether it is missionary work overseas, here at home, or creating a brand new ministry, this group is legacy driven. Help them create it. (Pssst, this idea works with other age groups too)
Connection –“we also value connecting to each other and the world around us. From Instagram to Snapchat to WhatsApp, millennials are hungry for new and innovative ways to keep in touch, see things in a new way, and share what’s important to them.” It is so true it is cliché, Gen Y is connected and the phones are at the ready….all the time. Each parish should discern how it uses the varieties of communication to speak to and allow others to speak back. Except for practical matters, it seems that most parish communication is one way. Gen Y needs a method to interact with their church in a valuable way. An area to test ideas even flawed ideas, as they search for meaning and wrestle with challenging aspects of Jesus teaching.
This group can be brought into the life of Jesus but it will take devoted and creative leadership. This group has much to offer the world if we speak their language.
Leave a comment and tell me what you think. The best conversations happen after the article.
Facebook, the rules changed, what you need to know
Written by Eric Haselhorst
Friday, 02 January 2015 08:31
For parishes in the Diocese of Dodge City using Facebook as a marketing/communication tool there are new rules you need to know about. I only learned about these new rules...well today 1/2/15.
A quick history lesson first. Your parish and businesses across the land have used Facebook "pages" for quite awhile for free. We would post our content on our page and hopefully it would end up in a persons news feed and all would be right with the world. Due to user requests to clean up the amount of marketing messages we receive, Facebook will make it more difficult for your messages to show up in fan news feeds organically.
The nitty gritty is this, it is less likely your message will be seen, virtually zero chance. FYI - previous to this change your message would be only be seen by 10% of fans if your content was great. That means only 10 people would see a message if your parish page had 100 fans. Not so great.
A bit more history if some of the words I used in the second paragraph do not make sense. First, your personal profile and your "page", such as your parish page or the Diocese Facebook page do not operate the same way. A page is a separate identity primarily used to promote idea, brands, companies etc. We work to have people "like" our page so we can promote cause or sell a thing. When a person "likes" our page, our content hopefully is seen in that person's news feed.
History lesson over. With the new rules effective January 1, 2015, we will now need to be smarter to have our content be seen by the people we want to reach. Think evangelization.
Tap into people in your office to be your ambassador -- it is imperative to create great original content. Valuable links to your website, infographics, short videos by your priest or youth group, pictures of activities in your parish and thoughtful questions or surveys people can comment on. Bulletin announcement type content will not be good enough anymore. Especially if it is not accompanied by an image. Once meaningful content is created, encourage all the staff, influencers in the parish, and friends to like, comment, and share the content.
Try other social media platforms -- Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and others can help your parish reach people where they are.
Experiment with Facebook ads -- Facebook ads are relatively cheap and easy to set up. Ads can be targeted to the specific audience you want to reach.
For example, below is the result of an add campaign I created to encourage people in the Diocese to subscribe to the Parish Tool Box Podcast. Look for the paid reach in the middle top of the image. For a budget of $30 I was able to reach 7,148 people. That means 7,000+ people saw my ad show up in there news feed. In addition, the actions of the audience can also be seen. This ad was targeted to men and women between 20 and 65 years old that live within a 25 mile radius of cities in our Diocese.
Now, take a look at the reach of normal posts that are not paid. This would be called organic reach. On most days the content the Diocese posts on our Facebook page reaches less that 100 people. Interestingly enough however, look at the posts that have a video of Bishop John, 800 to 1,000 people were reached. In addition, people engaged with that content by liking, commenting and sharing the content which helps more people see it. Notice at the bottom of the image the post that I promoted with the $30. Over, 7,000 were reached.
If this seems confusing lets keep it very simple. Create valuable content and ask people to like, share and comment on it. Paid promotion can help your message be seen. Video and images work.
This will help you evangelize and make your parish a place people can fall in love with Jesus.
Leave a comment and share this post with your friends, and don't forget to like it on Facebook :)
Peace to you, Eric
Is this where we totally biff?
Written by Eric Haselhorst
OK, I admit it. I am excellent on diagnosis, clever at prescription, poor in practice. What am I talking about, sending "thank you" notes. Saying thank you, no sweat. Writing thank you, not so much.
With stewardship renewal now coming to a close across our diocese the most important part of the renewal process needs to be done. That is sending a thank you note to each person that has given a gift of time, ability, and alms. Not each family, each person.
Depending on the size of a parish this could very well be a huge job. But, I don't think most people expect a handwritten note, a post card acknowledging a gift was given and received will do. A simple signature from the Pastor and or stewardship council member(s) will seal the deal. Quick side note, there are parishioners that will be hostile to the notion of the parish mailing out a thank you card. Ignore the haters and do it anyway.
My own parish and others I have visited will yield a dozen or more people that gave a gift during stewardship renewal and heard crickets as a reply. That is a big stewardship death trap. When a person takes time to discern their forms, fill them out, mail them or bring them back to the parish and never hear from the parish....it is likely that person will not give a gift again.
It is possible that the parish sends a thank you note and "Bob" forgot about it, did not receive for some reason, or accidentally pitches it with junk mail then proceeds to complain about not being thanked. To help stop that from happening it is good practice to thank people often and everywhere. In the bulletin, at the pulpit, social events, and special events. Also, a new ministry called the thank you ministry could be charged with writing random thank you notes on behalf of the parish.
In any event the folks need to be thanked by the parish. Just before Thanksgiving, I sen you a message with two videos all pointing to gratitude and the transforming power of showing it. If you happen to work in ministry on behalf the parish or you happen to be like me and need to show gratitude, this is a perfect time to start.
Do you have a difficult time sending a thank you note? Click over to the stewardship page and leave a comment with you biggest challenge saying thanks.
Thank YOU! For leaving a comment and for subscribing,
Two great videos to transform your life and your parish
Written by Eric Haselhorst
Thanksgiving is over but the power of the season is not lost. The two videos below are from entrepreneurs I read who both sent out thanksgiving messages that resonated with me and are truly stewardship videos. Stewardship begins with gratitude, take a look at the first five words of the Diocesan definition of stewardship.
"Stewardship is the grateful response"
Take few moments to watch one or both of the videos. See how creating a culture of gratitude in your parish can transform you personally and your parish.
Tell, after watching one or both of the videos how you will show genuine gratitude to our loving Lord for the many blessings we have. Leave your comments in the comment box.