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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.
Learning from Harley Davidson tattoos
Written by Eric Haselhorst
Can you imagine putting a Harley Davidson Tattoo on your body? Me either. I am fascinated by anyone who adds a branded tat to themselves. I mean really, this is a company logo for crying out loud and the ink is often worn by people that DO NOT even own the product!
In his book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek teaches the following: People to not buy what you do, they buy why you do it. If we asked Catholics across America, "what makes a good Catholic", a common response would be, "a good Catholic goes to Mass". Attending Mass is a good thing but will that activity alone provoke a person to have a chalice or a rosary inked on their person permanently. Hmmm.
Why can a company selling worldly goods provoke a group of people to permanently mark their body with a logo? The answer to that has everything to do with biology according Sinek. Our brains are created with distinct sections one being the Neocortex. This part of our brain is responsible for analytic function and language. Then there is the lymbic part of our brains, this part is responsible for emotion, behavior, and memory but it has no capacity for language.
Now that we know how our brains work, go ask a Harley fanatic why they have the company's logo as a tattoo. The answers will likely have zero to do with the motorcycle and everything to do with the emotions Harley has so masterfully created in those that like the brand. Think about these slogans Born to Ride, It's time to ride, Legend of American roads (in Russia), The Legend Rolls On, The Road Starts here It never Ends, Live to Ride, Ride to Live. These slogans have nothing to do with the motorcycles. The bikes are the end result of why Harley Davidson is a company in the first place. The people that wear these tattoos identify with the why Harley Davidison is in business. These people adopted that identity of the open road, freedom, and the intangibles the brand represents.
What can Catholics learn from this? Ask a Catholic, "why do you go to Mass?" It is likely we will hear answers that justify the behavior because going to mass for devoted Catholics is an emotional act. What we learned about our brains above is that the part of our brain controlling emotion is incapable of words. Therefore the emotional experience devoted Catholics have to the Mass is almost impossible to articulate in a way others would understand. It is akin to answering why we fall in love. We say "she is so funny, he is kind, she loves children". Words are difficult to explain why we love someone just as words are difficult to explain why we come to Mass
I was 13 years old (I think) and my family was on our way to Mass in an old Ford Escort. A down pore flooded several streets in Great Bend Kansas and we had to navigate the flooded areas to get to 5 PM Mass at St Patrick Church. There was water coming in the door. There was an 1" of water on the floor when we arrived in the parking lot! Why did we go through all that trouble to get to Mass? "Well we are Catholic and that is just what we do...we go to mass". Is what my family did inspiring? After reading this, do you want to join us? Probably not.
What if we had said "We do not miss Mass because that is our special time where we pray as a family and community. It is where our community meets to pray for one another, lift high our sins and those is desperate circumstances. It is where we praise Jesus for all he gives us and receive his son so we are nourished to live another week. We actually drove through flooded streets so we would not miss. People do not buy what we do, they buy why we do it.
Each parish that has a desire to increase parishioner engagement, raise money, or engage youth needs to re-read the last paragraph. It is our work to discern our "why", our call from Jesus Christ. To inspire our parishioners to travel this journey to the Lord they need to know why. Harely Davidson knows it's why and tattoos are proof they do.
Tell me your "why" by leaving a comment. Join this conversation and share it with your friends.
Stewardship Renewal Q and A September 17, 2014
Written by Eric Haselhorst
Hear your questions answered about the 2014 Stewardship renewal via live google+ hang out on September 17th 2014.
Please click my email address and tell other topics you would like to have covered.
Ideas for Stewardship in small parishes
Written by Eric Haselhorst
Stewardship in small parishes can be tricky. How does a small parish make a difference and add value to a community? Perhaps it is time to consider helping the poor in a tangible way.
Consider the following facts provided by Catholic Social Service regarding poverty in Kansas. Read the article here.
It is the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. In 1967 the poverty rate was 26% and in 2012 it was 16%.
The average family spends $2000 a year on food they will never eat.
25% of water is used to grow crops that will never be eaten.
In Kansas in 2010 20% of children living below the poverty level were being helped through the state benefit program. In 2011 it was 9%.
TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits have not changed in 17 years.
No public benefits will cover the cost of disposable diapers. Children cannot go to daycare without disposable diapers.
In Kansas a single mother with 2 children working a part-time minimum wage job makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Most employer based health insurance is not available to part-time employees.
Everyone up to 130% of poverty level is eligible for Medicaid.
States that expanded Medicaid decreased the number of uninsured by 29%. Those that didn’t increased the number of uninsured by 5.9%.
Maybe an answer is a quarterly diaper drive for low income parents in your city or county? Or a temporary housing shelter? A meaningful gift for needy families. Free daycare for low income parents. The list is limited by imagination. Small parishes can make a significant difference in the lives of people and be Jesus to others.
8 Rock Solid ways to get Lay witnesses
Written by Eric Haselhorst
The role of the lay witness has never been more important. We presently live in a connection economy meaning, people want to connect to people. Not a church necessarily, or a company or an organization. People.
During stewardship renewal this is why the Lay Witness is important. To connect a person to Jesus it will likely not be scripture alone, the building alone, or even the Eucharist alone (remember, about 50% of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist or do not understand the teaching).
To connect people to Jesus, to help foster that relationship in others with the Risen Lord it may very well happen through us who do understand and believe. Our stories of faith will be help connect, thus, the lay witness. See a variety of lay witness resources here
The challenge is recruiting lay witnesses. Catholics can be a proud yet humble group. Ask most people why they are connected to Jesus or how their relationship is special and it seems most people brush the question off. A common reply to an invitation to share a story would be "Me? I'm not that special" or "I don't have anything special to share". And, many people simply do not feel adequate to share. They have sin in their lives, they were divorced, addicted, less than perfect kids or a feeling they do not measure up to do this important work. It is real.
Here are 8 ways to help recruit lay witnesses:
Invite in love. We do not care about the past except for how it made the witness into who they are today. We are not here to judge but connect people in the pews to Jesus through the witness.
Invite again in love.
Remove mental road blocks by offering to help write the story.
Give mental prompts with a pre-written introduction and conclusion plus questions to answer for the body of the talk. Click the PDF icons to right to download outlines.
Lay witness Outline
A person reading their talk at mass can be the most powerful, however, if public speaking is an absolute no, have the person or family write out their talk and include the talk in a newsletter, email, social media or website or all of the above. Make sure to include a photo of the family.
Do not forget children and teens. Jesus welcomed children and told adult to bug off when he said, "Let the children come to me". Out teens and kids have a better understanding of Jesus than adults do. Let them speak and write. For a list of tips to include children click here and here
Invite from the back rows. The best stories of God's love and that intimate story of Jesus comes from out of the ordinary places. Invite the single mom struggling to get to mass much less participate in parish life. The cancer survivor, bachelor farmer, widow, usher, the coach that prays for their team before a game. If the witness does not appear holy, it does not mean they do not act it when away from the building.
Invite invite invite. Invitation with love is key and persistence pays.
Above all, do all this with love. The goal is to have each person or family share their story of the Jesus to connect another person with Jesus. A 45 year old father of 2 and a wife of 15 years can learn much about Jesus when hearing a widower share his story of Jesus love and compassion when he lost his wife of 50 years to cancer. A single woman can learn much about Jesus when hearing a divorced dad share his story of raising kids alone except for the grace of our heavenly mother.
For we in the pews to connect to another person in the pews to Jesus is the fruit of our effort.
If you have questions, please leave a comment and share this with your friends by clicking share.
At the opportunity to sound a heretic I share this story with you. I was in a small parish in our Diocese and had a nice conversation with a woman that was typical in my work. Our conversation wondered over to people in their 20s and 30s and her urging those people to come back or begin attending her church. I could tell she was beat down at her unsuccessful efforts and I offered a thought I will share with readers. "If people outside the Church do not understand the Eucharist and the sacraments, what does the mass offer them? Especially if the music is poor/mediocre and homilies do not give a meaningful message? It is no wonder these same people are not coming or staying."
Many readers, myself included, are not coming to Mass week after week for the music (it does add a ton though). And, if the preaching does not speak to us we will be back the following week. To outsiders, and many insiders for that matter, that do not know our vocabulary and have an ambiguous relationship to church, they need something else until they do understand.
This is where the rubber meets the road for us who set in the pews. Remember Dorothy, Toto, Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz? Dorothy is set on a mission to find the Wizard, she sets out on her own knowing the Wizard has the answers to her questions. Along the way she picks up the Scarecrow, Tin Man and finally the Lion at each point singing: "We're off to see the.....".
Riddle me this:
1. Did Dorothy use the Catechism to convince her fellow travelers to go with her to see the Wizard?
2. Did Dorothy go on about history and doctrine to convince her companions the Wizard would be the right thing to solve their troubles?
3. Did Dorothy use big mysterious words the strangers would not know?
4. At any point in the film did a character tell Dorothy and travelers to it was there duty to go to Emerald City to see the Wizard?
5. Did Dorothy condemn the Tin Man, Lion or Scarecrow for not believing what she did?
6. Did Dorothy cast judgement on her companions?
If the answers were no, no, no, no, no, no then you answered correct. What Dorothy learned at the beginning then passed on to the other characters is this: "I found the way the truth and the light, you can be helped too, join me." Then Dorothy locks arms with each of the characters and they took a journey to the Wizard...together. They helped one another overcome scary moments, moments of doubt, insecurity, and obstacles (including the wicked witch). They celebrated together when they met the Wizard and together, learned valuable lessons they each sought.
Dorothy found the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion in different circumstances. Knew truth and invited each on a journey, then walked with each to meet something bigger than themselves. If our parishes had more Dorothy's would it make a difference?
I think this is the exact crossroads we are at in church. People in their 20s and 30s are seeking connection. Yes we can connect these people to Jesus but that connection will happen through us. Until the the 20-30 people can see Jesus in the Eucharist and overcome the mechanical flaws at Mass, they will have to see Jesus in us. That means we in the pews will have to be more Jesus like. Less judge mental, more humble, more loving, and develop an ability to meet people where they are.
Please leave a comment and share this message with those who want to make a difference.