Next to Christmas itself, Fall is absolutely my favorite season of the year. The days get cooler, the nights get longer (which I love) and here in Maryland the foliage delights with its annual colorful display (no where more impressive than right here on our church campus). But for us churchpeople it is also the season of opportunity in terms of reaching the lost and going deeper with parishioners. Here are three ways we try and make the most of the season.
Host a “Kick-Off” Weekend
Many parishioners are away in summertime, others just take a break from weekly church attendance (regrettable, yet sometimes the case). But they are definitely back come September when schools and school sports are all in full swing. We try to make the first weekend back (this year September 9 & 10) something special, as we kick off a new message series, new music, and have some fun too. We also try and recap our summer experience, usually with a video montage that celebrates and punctuates the summer season, but also brings everybody up to speed on what’s been going on.
Invest and Invite
This fall we will be using our second message series of the season to promote the third series. The theme will be what we like to call “invest and invite” as our strategy for evangelization. Basically, we challenge and equip parishioners to identify and begin to pray for just one unchurched friend or family member (these days that is fairly easy for most people to do). Then, when an opportunity arises, we invite them to church to join us for our upcoming Advent series or Christmas celebration. We choose that time of year because it is the number one time of year when the unchurched are most likely to accept an invitation to come to church.
Celebrate Stewardship Sunday
One of the most important weekends of the year comes for us each fall in “Stewardship Sunday.” It is the only weekend of the year when we talk about giving to the parish and then ask for a commitment from parishioners. But for us it is much more than that, it is a celebration of our parish and everything we are and are accomplishing. It is a celebration of our “wins.” Usually, we follow up Mass with some unexpected elements to surprise and entertain, as well as special features for the children. Despite the challenging nature of the weekend’s focus it is one of our very popular weekends because everyone knows it’s going to be a positive experience. Stewardship Sunday is also the occasion for our annual “Business Meeting” open to all, where we share the budget for the past and coming year. We believe for transparency’s sake it is important to have such a meeting and it is encouraging that hardly anyone comes (an indication that they trust us with their money).
Fall is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate your parish, invest in your parish, grow your parish. Don’t miss it.