The Armchair Liturgist: Recruiting for Liturgy

armchair1.jpgSummer vacation is over. The school year has begun. How do the armchair liturgists bolster the ranks of lectors, communion ministers, singers, musicians, artists, sacristans, altar servers, greeters, ushers, planners, bread bakers, vintners, masters of ceremony, seamsters, launderers, altar care folks, homily prep team, committee members, and others?

What are your options? Ministry fairs, bulletin announcements, Mass announcements, one-on-one, the pastor, sign-up forms, the internet, direct mail, phone calls, school or RE bulletins, or nothing at all?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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9 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Recruiting for Liturgy

  1. Mollie says:

    It may vary a little according to the ministry, but in general I think it’s important to at least have an announcement at mass for a week or two, and in the bulletin as well (and on the parish website/email list if you have one). Just “We need more ministers to do X; training will be held on such-and-such day; contact so-and-so if you’re interested.” And the announcement should appear again in January or February — don’t just do it once a year! I joined my current parish in late September, and I waited a whole year for anyone to say anything about ministry opportunities. Now I realize I should have just stopped in at the parish office and asked, but still — don’t forget newcomers. There could be someone waiting to be asked.

    I’m intrigued by the idea of a ministry fair! I like the “everybody could be doing something” idea of it.

  2. Liam says:

    Press gangs.

  3. Anne says:

    Press gangs?

    Doesn’t that mean forcing people?
    How would that work?

  4. Oh wow. One of my favorite topics! All the tactics you mention will work in one way or another, especially because there’s no one size fits all communication method.

    The more compelling way to attract and keep church volunteers is to inform, educate, and inspire them about what they’re being recruited to do. Provide opportunities for deeper spiritual and faith formation along the way, use the ministry cluster to form a mini-faith community within the community, and show gratitude beyond an annual potluck for which the volunteers have to cook.

    My new book is all about this stuff: http://www.amazon.com/Word-Made-Fresh-Communicating-Church/dp/0819222852/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218501606&sr=8-1

    Give me a call if you want to talk more about this!

  5. Liam says:

    Anne

    Armies of nuns in full habit surround the victims and click them to their designated stations.

    Alternatively, announce that all people sitting in the back half of the church will be considered as having volunteered themselves.

  6. Anne says:

    Thanks,very helpful post Liam.

  7. Liam says:

    Glad you thought so.

    The best way is personal one-on-one invitation to a specific ministry. Which requires current ministers to be scouting, which in turn means they should be in the congregation for at least some Sundays rather than always up in service, et cet. (This is one reason choirs often have a difficult time recruiting – choristers are not out there in the pews listening and watching for someone’s interest and skill in music.)

    People can be invited by sign-up weeks in the vestibule, but nothing beats the individual invitation outside that context.

    So my general take here is that, one can complexify this process all one wants, but in the end the hardest path is the best one.

    The next tier of issues is preparation for training and absorption of volunteers.

    Another tier of issues could be forced rotation of leadership of ministries that are not under the day-to-day direction of parish employees – a lot of ministries get stale because the leadership thereof gets vested in the leadership role and is reluctant to move out (often because they’ve become or made themselves indispensible – to which the best cure is to let things crash without them if that’s the only way).

  8. Jimmy Mac says:

    Have a parish in which congregants are proud members, and volunteers are no problem. If the pastor and parish staff are not personable and forthcoming, they won’t ask and consequently won’t get. Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you will find.

  9. This a really good writeup by the author looking forward to read more very soon.

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