Toyota, in the guise of a baptismal font recall, was the target of my church’s annual April Fool’s Day stunts. (I’ve covered some of these parodies before.) April Fool’s Day usually falls during Lent and in 2010 it was on Holy Thursday. Is it appropriate for a church to celebrate April Fool’s Day during Lent?
Baptismal Font with Unintended Acceleration from StCharlesChurch.org
- Increase traffic to the site.
- Show that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
- Give members of the community a reason to share the church’s web address with others. It’s difficult for some to overtly evangelize, but sharing a link to a funny site makes it a lot easier.
We’ve met all of those goals the past several years.
At the same time, we’ve focused on spoofs and parodies rather than outright tricks that could legitimately fool someone. You don’t want newcomers showing up for a non-existent event because they weren’t in on the joke, especially during Lent. It’s a balancing act, but based on the traffic and feedback it’s been worth it for us.
Would your church consider putting on a stunt for April Fool’s Day?
By jmacphoto.com on Flickr
My church has a second collection this time of year. It’s for the religious education Sunday school program. And it bugs me:
- I already gladly pay a fee for each of my kids to participate in religious education classes after Mass.
- Not all are served by the current education program. If you don’t sign up right away, you are relegated to the “study at home” program, also known as Here’s The Book And Good Luck.
- Isn’t religious education an essential, baseline service that should come out of the first collection?
When something irks me like this, sometimes it helps to have a different perspective so help me out. How does it work at your church? Do you think the arrangement is fair?
My church canceled 6 PM Mass the other night because the designated priest didn’t show up. Could that ever happen at your church? Probably not, but just in case here are some tips on handling an MIA priest.
- Establish a cut-off time for going to Plan B. If your priest isn’t there 10 minutes (or whatever window you set) before Mass, start looking at alternatives. In my situation, the scheduled priest was typically late so no one suspected a problem until it was, well, too late.
- Know where to look. The contact numbers for the priests should be available in the sacristy. If the priests live nearby, those addresses should be on hand, too. If substitute priests from another parish or mission are potentially available, add them to the list.
- Spell out the steps needed to perform a Communion service without Liturgy of the Eucharist. Your sacristan can provide this information. If you can’t have a full Mass, use the lectors and eucharistic ministers on hand to conduct a prayer service.
- Know where to find a copy of the bishop’s homily. If you go forward without a priest, you can still have a homily read. In my parish, the bishop’s weekly homily appears in the local diocesan newspaper and online.
- Identify the Mass times of other local churches. If you can’t offer your own Mass, let your parishioners know about alternatives.
- If a decision is made to cancel Mass before it’s started, send out a message to your Twitter account for quick notification. Consider sending a message to your emergency list as well.
- Apologize. A discussion on Facebook was how I found out that the last Mass of the day was canceled at my church. The next day on the subway, I ran into more people who were talking about the situation. Armed with these anecdotes, I encouraged my pastor to issue a statement about the situation. Don’t way until people are talking about the situation—because you know they will—to address the problem.
Has anything like this ever happened at your church? How did you respond?
Photo by RandomFactor (Flickr)
While discussing some of my favorite sources for information about church communications technology with Rex Hammock, I came up with this list based on my iGoogle church tech tab and Twitter feed. Thought I’d share it with you guys and then ask you what I should add to the list.
[Update: July 20, 2009 -- OpenSourceCatholic.com looks like it's going to turn into another great source. Check it out.]
[Update: October 3, 2009 -- ProductiveCatholic.com "is designed to give Catholics tools and ideas on how to optimize their time and money in order to focus on their life's purpose: to worship God and help others." Try out the site, get fired up and make a difference.]
I’d like to build out this list. What are your go-to sources for finding inspiration about churches using communications technology in bold ways?