Statistics show that church attendance is at its all time low. Some say it is due to difficulty in believing in the existence of God. Others say it is because of the many scandals surrounding the churches in recent years. Then there are some that just say they are just too busy and that they have more important things to do such as their job, work around the house, shopping, sports, relaxing, etc. People think even if they have nothing else to do, the weekend is their only chance to sleep in. To them the day of rest does not include getting up early to attend church.
Some congregations have dwindled because at one time a priest said something to a parishioner that they didn’t like so they never came back. Or the priest was going to transfer to another church and some parishioners leave before they even meet the new priest. Whatever the reason, how to improve church attendance is one of the biggest problems most churches face. Thousands of churches each year have to close their doors forever due to lack of attendance. Churches are frantically trying to come up with ideas and solutions to draw more people into their parish and the CCD program. How should churches proceed with this overwhelming predicament?
Here are a few suggestions that might be useful:
• Advertise in the local paper about your church and the programs it provides. Welcome others to your church and how much the congregation is looking forward to meeting them. Have the advertisement be colorful and enticing to grab anyone’s attention and make them want to come to your wonderful church.
• Put door hangers on homes and leave a positive invitation so others will want to see and be part of your church. Have enlightening and pertinent informative on it that will encourage people to come to your church.
• Tell your current members to invite friends and family. New visitors can become new members and they can also invite others to come to your church.
• Have an Open House so prospective church members can attend Mass and meet the priest and the congregation. Create an uplifting atmosphere that is welcoming and engaging. Encourage members of the church to invite friends to the Open House. Make sure you advertise the event in the local paper and provide refreshments at the gathering.
• Provide food following Mass to build community and relationships. Church goers are more likely to regularly attend your parish if they feel connected to the people of the church. Create a hospitality committee to coordinate refreshments for after the service. You can also hold special fellowship luncheons or dinners once a month. You can use seasonal events, feast days, etc. as themes for your special luncheons or dinners.
• Have a church website. Research has shown that a large percentage of Internet users use the Internet to search for spiritual or religious information, including locating information on churches to visit in their local area. Make sure your church website grabs everyone's attention and informs others of pertinent information about your church and the programs it provides. If money is an issue, you can do a blog and allow several authors to post on the blog about your church and the various activities. Many Internet users visit multiple search engines when looking for a church, so it is important to submit your site to several search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) to find your church website easily and quickly.
• Form a Knights of Columbus council at your parish and help make your community a better place, while supporting your Church.
• Have a church meeting and/or survey to ask the people what it is they want or need from your parish. Having an accurate knowledge and understanding of their wants and needs will help guide the church council to decide what changes need to be done at their parish.
• Write about CCD in every church newsletter or bulletin. Include in it what your class has been doing, what’s coming up, what the children liked and why, perfect attendance, pictures of classroom happenings, samples of student’s work, etc. At every opportunity, remind people of WHY you are doing things a certain way, not just the fact that you're "being creative." The "why" is what is on people's mind when they think about their church. WHY should I do/go/give more.
ehow.com- How To Encourage Sunday School Attendance
What seemed to be the most difficult problem in your CCD class this year?- Tips and Suggestions
CCD Open House- Before CCD starts it is a good idea to have an Open House. The ideas posted should be helpful and allow you to have a great CCD Open House.
Parent Involvement in CCD- Since parents and guardians are the primary teachers of the Faith their involvement in CCD is vital. Without it the child will not learn to their fullest potential. Tips are posted on how to get parents involved in CCD.
Catechist Training- Most dioceses and/or parishes require some kind of catechist training before they can teach a class each year. By providing assistance and training to all catechists before CCD starts it will prepare the catechist so they can be an effective teacher and their students will want to come to CCD. Certified catechist should also participate in the training because no catechist can know everything and they could also benefit from new ideas and activities. Suggestions of what can be in the catechist training is posted.
What do students like to do in CCD?- The key to being a good catechist is knowing what your students like to do in CCD. Here are some tips and suggestions for activities to do in the classroom that are age appropriate.
*Can you think of any more ideas on how to improve attendance at church and CCD? Please leave a comment and add to the list.
. Churches should look to themselves and what changes they can make. They need to present themselves differently to attract members and to spread the faith. The church has to find a gentle way to make church more important than all the other commitments a member might have. If there is a choice between mowing the lawn and church, or sport and church, reasonable arguments should be made as to why church is more important and how the member will benefit from the community of the church and the spiritual well being which can be achieved through regular church attendance.
There are several reasons why church attendance is down. First and foremost, with the scientific progress, and a possible scientific explanation for anything and everything, it is difficult to believe in the existence of God. God just does not appear to be so all-powerful anymore. Secondly, there have been many scandals surrounding the churches in recent years, especially the Catholic Church. The trust in the ministers and priests has diminished. Their worldliness has become too obvious.
Thirdly, and most importantly, our lives have become incredibly busy. Who has time for God anymore? We have more important things to do. Sunday is not the day of rest anymore for many of us. Stores are open; factories don't stop their assembly lines. Many of us have to work. While maybe fifty years ago it might have been frowned upon to run your lawnmower on Sundays or do any visible to the neighbor work around the house, this is not the case anymore. With our schedules full throughout the week, the weekend is left to keep up with the chores around the house and/or shopping and relaxing. And yes, there is sporting events to attend and other commitments, especially if you have children. And most importantly, even if we have nothing else to do, the weekend is our only chance to sleep in. The day of rest does not include getting up early to attend church.
ehow.com- How to Improve Church Attendance
ehow.co.uk/- How to Increase Attendance at a Small Church
Copyright 2010 Laura Grace
About the Author
Laura Grace was a special education teacher years ago and has taught CCD for 16 years. She has been a contributor at catholicmom.com since 2006, is part of the Gospel Reflections Team, and creates lesson plans for religious education and homeschooling. In 2008 Laura started her own blog, The Catholic Toolbox where she posts activities, crafts, games, worksheets, puzzles, lesson plans, classroom tips, etc. for all ages.