When your email subject line is: We are LIVE Now! Word on Fire ENGAGE webinar, I clicked the forward by Allan Forsberg. Allan, an enthusiastic friend from Grande Prairie, continues to share exciting things with regard to faith and Christianity. Thanks, Forsberg. I could not join the webinar but watched it later in the evening.
I hope together we can engage the 82% of our (so-called lukewarm) parishioners in our churches. I will share the webinar link below. As the webinar speakers say, if you are not the church leader, share the link with your pastor, even with priests that you know.
Word on Fire ENGAGE with Short-Ready-Made Messages
The keynote speakers, Matthew Warner and Mary Devlin of Flocknote, talked about how to engage the 82% of parishioners and how Word on Fire ENGAGE can help with short ready-made messaging designed for such audiences. Flocknote provides a service of smarter ways of emailing and texting parishioners. Bishop Robert’s Word on Fire is an excellent resource for parishes, and some are absolutely free.
Matthew Warner spoke about a crisis: parishioners sliding away from the church. Using a hand-held whiteboard, Matthew drew a bar to explain the numbers. As Mr. Warner pointed out, the number table is an eye-opener. The seven percent of parishioners do ninety percent of the volunteering work and contribute ninety percent of the money.
Who is Already ENGAGED?
Mr. Warner points out that 7% of people are already engaged with the church. Despite abuse scandals, they are attached to the church and are less likely to leave the church. Another interesting fact is that these seven percent of people are also the ones who complain the most.
These statistics are more about the churches in the US. But it does provide a view to understanding the congregations. The numbers are based on a Dynamic Catholic survey, PEW research, and other studies. Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic is also a resource treasure for Catholics all over the world.
The Ones Who Left the Church
Mr. Warner talked about 11% of the people who never show up but still identify themselves as Catholics – the ones never in the pews. The 11% are different from those who consider themselves “nones” who have left the church and do not affiliate themselves with any organized religion.
Who are the 82% Lukewarm Parishioners?
Between the 7% highly engaged and the 11% never seen in the church, the 82% are those who are seen in the pews. The major shock is the 82% of lukewarm parishioners in the pews are not engaged in the church. That’s the challenge the webinar set to handle.
The biggest problem is that 82% are drifting away. According to Mr. Warner, for every person who joins the church, six people leave the church in North America.
Churches have tried to engage with the 82% but fail to grab their attention. Even with the new social media, churches reach just seven percent of people. The social media messaging, the on-demand content, the study programs are designed by the 7% to reach the seven percent, and the 82% get left out.
Challenge to Communicate with 82% Lukewarm Parishioners
Mr. Warner claims that if you are watching the webinar (or reading this), you are part of the 7% engaged with the church.
The challenge is to communicate with the 82% – how to reach them, what to say, and how to say it. After crossing the hurdle, the next challenge is, how to engage and get the 82% to care.
The webinar suggests that short email or text messages with easily clickable link works better than links that ask the recipient to enter personal details or request to create an account to sign in.
This may not solve the problem but will cross a hurdle to get people to engage – creating an opportunity to click and play or send a message back to the church leadership.
Flocknote teamed up with Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire ENGAGE program that offers almost free ready-made and seasonal content specially designed towards the 82% of lukewarm parishioners.
Click the link to watch the webinar Word On Fire ENGAGE
Mr. Forsberg told me that most people don’t want to sign up for time-consuming programs. Mr. Forsberg, a former communication coordinator of the Archdiocese of Grouard McLennan, suggests quick uplifting messaging – “little things that pick their interest” to communicate hope. Mr. Forsberg volunteers at St. Joseph’s Church, Grande Prairie.
Sister Connie Harkin, SSND, who participated in the webinar, says the personal approach of the pastor is vital to increase the engagement level of parishioners. When a priest approaches a parishioner with a specific request to be of service to the worship community, people tend to volunteer for church activities.
Something for you …
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