This Sunday our parish celebrates our annual Kick-Off Weekend. While the Church’s liturgical year runs from Advent to Advent, most families plan their year, especially if kids are involved, from September to June. So we make this weekend- the weekend after Labor Day- a special celebration each year.
Nothing is different liturgically, of course (it’s still the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time), but we do plan for it strategically. Kick-Off Weekend is a great weekend to experience our church for the first time, so we encourage parishioners to invite someone new. We look at it as an opportunity to be extra welcoming and hospitable, because we know it is the season when many new visitors and “church-shoppers” are coming through. It’s not something we encourage, but it’s a reality we acknowledge and we plan for accordingly. Our goal is to end the shopping by making them a meaningful part of our community.
When it comes to outsiders or first-timers, your church’s only job is to welcome them. It’s not the time for the DRE to ask invasive, awkward questions or make people feel bad (“Well where were you last year?”). Look for ways to diffuse rather than heighten anxieties. Be prepared and patient with parents who don’t get the protocol. If your message and program is compelling and accessible enough, people will more likely be happy to make the effort- no shaming required.
As for logistics, we set up games around the property after Mass and invite local food trucks. We aim to create a great environment inside and outside the church building. We don’t do church-wide social events like this often, so we make it worthwhile. And it’s not a fundraiser.
In addition to the start of a brand new year and message series, there is a lot of other great stuff happening or coming up at Nativity, including rolling out our new Website, the release of the Rebuilt Field Guide (Ave Maria Press), and progress on our new sanctuary. Stay tuned.
P.S: Thanks to all who submitted questions and follow-up to our most recent message series FAQ: Faith Answering Questions. We hope “8th Grade Faith” will continue that conversation. Beginning next week for the duration of the series, one of our Nativity Staff members, Evan Ponton, will explore one of your questions we didn’t get to answer, so be sure check back on the blog next week.