Christmas and Easter are notorious for bringing in newcomers to church as they follow old traditions or join loved ones for a Mass. It’s a unique time where we can capture the attention of those who may not know the personal experience of knowing Jesus.
Even more than just inviting them to participate in the service, we want to serve them as Jesus would and remind them they belong in your parish, and not just as a visitor.
Here are some ways that you can make newcomers feel right at home during Christmas.
Gather around food.
Food is great common ground for anyone to connect. It doesn’t have to be a meal, but offering things like food or drink before or after Mass is a great way to find common ground and serve people.
Some ideas for places to host food:
Serve initial needs first.
Do people need financial support? Emotional support? A community to gather with during the holidays? Focus on meeting those needs before anything else.
Of course, this can be a hard thing to approach with someone you’ve only met. Here are some ideas about how to approach people’s needs:
Have volunteers go out and bring people in.
If someone hasn’t been to church in awhile, walking into a church can feel intimidating or foriegn. Go out of the building to walk people in, engage them in conversation, and help them find someone to sit with during the mass. This can remind newcomers this is a place they don’t have to just visit but could belong.
Some key parts to making this invitation easy:
Remember where they are coming from.
In all our interactions, it’s important to get outside our own tasks and to-do lists and think about what might be going on in someone’s life. Are they nervous to come to church? Feeling guilty? Reluctant? Are they worried about the holidays? Feeling tired from the stress of the pandemic? From their job?
Some questions that could help: