How Church Imitates Baseball – #OpeningDay

Opening Day in 2014 falls right after Laetare Sunday, giving us two opportunities to recognize that our long winter will not continue indefinitely. Last night’s flurries in DC, I must confess, briefly shook my confidence in that previous statement.

So how are church and baseball connected. Leo Durocher said, “Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand.” But my wife, sister-in-law and I found many more similarities between church and baseball that we’ve noted before. We were welcoming a friend and baseball fan into the Church one Easter in the early 1990s when we came up with this lis:

Top 10 Ways Going to Church Imitates Baseball 10. Sometimes you stand and sing, other times you sit. 9. It can go into extra innings. 8. Hard to follow without a program. 7. Organ music. 6. Uncomfortable seats. 5. Sometimes you spend more than you want to. 4. Gotta know how to read the signs. 3. Long line for alcohol. 2. You’re preparing for post-season play. And the number 1 way going to church imitates baseball… 1. Ultimately, if you screw up, you get sent down.

10 ways church imitates baseball.

Top 10 Ways Going to Church Imitates Baseball

10. Sometimes you stand and sing, other times you sit.

9. It can go into extra innings.

8. Hard to follow without a program.

7. Organ music.

6. Uncomfortable seats.

5. Sometimes you spend more than you want to.

4. Gotta know how to read the signs.

3. Long line for alcohol.

2. You’re preparing for post-season play.

And the number 1 way going to church imitates baseball…

1. Ultimately, if you screw up, you get sent down.

 

If you’re making a good Lent, you’ll have a clean slate just like all the Opening Day teams. Enjoy your season and let us know any other similarities we can add to the list!

Mass Madness Church Brackets

mass-madness-church-brackets-markalves-churchmojo

March Madness brackets for Catholics and church-goers. Who do you have going to the Faithful Four? (Click to enlarge)

Take an Ash Wednesday Selfie and Use #Ashtag

Want to spread the word about the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday? There are plenty of ways for your church to do so. And here’s an easy way for you and your friends to do so.

1. Take a selfie with your ashes.

2. Tag it #ashtag

3 Share on your favorite social channels.

Selfie on Ash Wednesday = #Ashtag

Selfie on Ash Wednesday = #Ashtag [square format, good for sharing on Instagram]

https://twitter.com/markalves/status/430895526180294658

Now if you are giving up social media for Lent, this is the perfect way to go out in style while explaining your upcoming 40-day absence. And if you are taking on some #chsocm (church social media) during Lent, this works, too!

Selfie on Ash Wednesday? It's an #Ashtag

This one is optimized for sharing on Twitter since it’s sized 2×1.

Also check out FOCUS’s post: The 8 Types of Ashes You Might Get on Ash Wednesday!

10 Steps to Prepare Your Church Website for Advent

Lego Advent Calendar

Lego Advent Calendar

Santa’s checking his list at this time of year — and so should you if you’re running a parish website. Here are the 10 steps to prepare your church site for Advent.

  1. Pick a permanent URL for all of your Advent content. Use the same page year after year so search engines—which really means first-time visitors—can find you. That’s your best chance for reaching those who are thinking of returning home for Christmas.
  2. Make that permanent URL short, relevant, easy-to-remember name for that URL. Hint: work in “Advent” into the name, such as YourChurch.com/advent. Including unnecessary subdirectories in the name is as sloppy as leaving the price tag on a present. So skip /seasons/recurring/advent/ or /ministries/liturgy/advent. Double check that someone could say this address out loud to a friend and have it remembered. Also confirm that the address can fit on one line in your bulletin.
  3. Include your Christmas Mass schedule on your Advent page as soon as possible. Again, you might have only one shot at first timers. All of your other Advent events should be here too, of course, along with your daily Mass schedule.
  4. Incorporate an Advent theme for your entire parish. If you don’t have one, go with Year of Faith. Some churches adopts a single theme for all children’s religious education programs that carries over to the parish as a whole. If the theme already is in place for the kids, get some more mileage but expanding it across your community. When I used to run my parish’s website, we took this approach, such as in this 2006 theme“Sent Forth in Hope” from 20052004 and 2003.
  5. Add a poll asking how your parishioners are celebrating Advent. A one-question, multiple checkbox survey is a fun way for visitors to see the activities you’re offering. Include the basics:
    – Using an Advent wreath
    – Attending additional Masses
    – Doing extra good deeds
    – Going to the parish Christmas party
    – ____ << here’s where you add some other event that applies to your parish), etc., plus list those events that are unique to your parish–especially the minor ones that need more publicity.
  6. Assemble your pastor’s best Advent and Christmas homilies.
  7. Include Advent reflections. Lots of good choices are available, including American Catholic’s Advent pageCatholic.org’s Advent resources, Creighton Universitymy own parish’s archived Advent reflections (new ones were discontinued), and Our Sunday Visitor.
  8. Link to daily Scripture readings. The US Bishops’ daily readings site is a good start and try out other RC.net, EmmausJourney, Creighton University, EWTN and @todaysreadings (a Twitter account I run). The readings are available as podcasts, too, including one of my favorites: Pray As You Go.
  9. Review last December’s analytics to identify search terms your visitors used and incorporate these keywords into your site.
  10. Share your Advent information on social media and link back to your main Advent page. On Twitter and Google+, include the #Advent hashtag. Collect interesting images of Advent wreaths on Pinterest.
  11. BONUS STEP: Take some time for yourself to prepare for Jesus. It’s easy to focus on getting the church website ready for everyone else while neglecting your own journey. Remember to use some of the reflections above for yourself!

Are these the kind of steps you’re taking? Let us know what your online preparations are in the comments.

You might also like: 40 Ways to Keep Parishioners from Giving Up Your Church Site for Lent and
Why Your Holiday Bulletin Cover Makes Newcomers Flee

Thanksgiving Prayers from Twitter – 2012 Edition

Thanksgiving is one of those days of the year where we should give thanks for our blessings. (The other 364.25 days are good choices, too.) As I’ve done before, here’s the 2012 round-up of Thanksgiving prayers from Twitter:

And lastly there’s a Thanksgiving Prayer from a Concord Pastor, which I tweeted so I could sneak it in here.

Perhaps these offered some inspiration for you this Thanksgiving. Take time to count your blessings and share them with others.

Linus’s Thanksgiving Prayer from Charlie Brown

Veterans Day Posters 1978 – 2012

Looking for some Veterans Day graphics to go along with your prayers for veterans? Share this animated gif:

Veterans Day Poster animated GIF 1978 - 2012

Veterans Day Posters 1978 – 2012 from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Animated GIF by Mark Alves

The VA Dept. has individual posters for downloading here. More posters are available from:

Thank you to all those who’ve served.

Election Day Prayers

I voted in the 2012 election

Election Day 2012 by Mark Alves

Some candidates don’t have a prayer of winning, but you might want to share an election prayer on your church website or on your church’s social media accounts. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Lastly, here’s an election prayer by the US Catholic Bishops:

Prayer Before An Election

Lord God, as the election approaches,
we seek to better understand the issues and concerns
that confront our city/state/country,
and how the Gospel compels us
to respond as faithful citizens in our community.

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness
so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,
one and equal in dignity,
especially those who are victims of abuse and violence,
deceit and poverty.

We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn
and those abandoned,
men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.

We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders
who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.

We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders
who hear your Word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth
as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles
and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ,
and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Source: USCCB; hat tip: Brad West

You may also be interested in Veterans Day Prayers and Reflections for your church website. Or, perhaps, the unsuccessful presidential campaign by our pastor (launched on, ahem, April 1).

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