With Thanksgiving now behind us we are on a sprint to Christmas. For all of us in churchworld this means we are in what is generally valued as our high season, our very best opportunity of the whole year when it comes to evangelization. I decided to put together a to-do list for our church for the next few weeks to make the most of this time vis-à-vis the unchurched.
1. Pray for them.
We need to be praying for the unchurched in our community this December. We need to make it a petition in the Universal Prayer at Mass each day, include it in our staff prayer and I need to be praying about it in my own daily quiet time.
2. Anticipate them.
As we start this season I need to take a fresh look at our entire facility through the eyes of the unchurched. If I am coming back to church for the first time in a long time, or the first time ever, what is that experience like? Will I like it? Is it accessible?
3. Invite them.
Be on high alert in my own life to be on the lookout for possible invitees, and be encouraging our regulars to make it a part of their Christmas preparation too. This requires that our parish web site is entirely up to date, and opportunities for joining us this season are easy to find and appear accessible.
4. Welcome them.
When the unchurched guy (and his family) do finally show up, I have to make sure we are ready for him. That means fully staffed host teams at all Masses for sure. But it also means a festive, fun environment too. I know, I know, liturgical purist will denounce me yet again for my many sins, but culturally it is Christmastime. And if our unchurched visitors come to church and we seem not to get that, well it’s a miss for us. I’m not saying skip Advent and break out the Christmas trees, I’m just suggesting a certain festive spirit that matches the unchurched guy’s best instinct when it comes to this time of year.
5. Speak to them.
I need to craft each of my weekend homilies during Advent as if the unchurched are already in the pews. And when it comes to my Christmas homily, I must shape it entirely with them in mind. I will form a focus group of unchurched guys from this community and test drive it on them in the days leading up to Christmas, getting their feedback with the help of a facilitator.
Tis the season…make the most of it.