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!


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 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’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, 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

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).

What Does #MassCheckIn Hashtag Mean?

It means it’s Pentecost Sunday. And the folks who brought you #baconless during Lent are back with another Catholic meme. Just like the apostles went forth regardless of language, you’re invited to evangelize whatever your preferred social network. So on Pentecost, check in using hashtag #MassCheckIn whether you’re on Facebook or Foursquare, and tag a photo on Flickr or Instagram. See more info about #MassCheckIn.


40 Ways to Keep Parishioners from Giving up Your Church Site for Lent

The Safe Way to Do Lent at Your Catholic Church (Photo by Mark Alves)Want to hook your parishioners throughout Lent so they keep coming back long after Easter? Then tempt them with enticing Lenten content on your church website or blog. Here are 40 ideas to get you started.

  1. Polls/surveys. “What Are You Giving Up For Lent?” with multiple-choice options such as sweets, drinking, Facebook and TV is one way to start. Try Do Sundays “Count” in Lent? on the first weekend in Lent. How Well Are You Keeping Up With Your Lenten Goals? can be asked later in the season.
  2. Lenten reflections, such as encouraging 10 minutes a day of prayer (Concord Pastor), or “Finding Your Priorities This Lent” or “Thirst For Justice, Hunger for Peace” or praying a novena as suggested by Catholic Matriarch.
  3. #AshTag photos. Show pics of a cross-section of your parishioners with their ashes. Search Instagram or check NPR’s collection for examples to get you started.
  4. Non-meat recipes for Fridays. Catholic Cuisine will give you inspiration.
  5. Daily reflections on the Scriptures, such as from the US Bishops, the Catholic Information Network,, Creighton U, EWTN, Mobile Gabriel and one of my favorites: Pray As You Go. Or add the audio of the daily readings to your site.
  6. Top 10 lists to lighten the mood. “10 Funniest Things to Give Up for Lent” or come up with your own, such as “Things That Sound Hard to Give Up for Lent, But Aren’t” (what would you put on this list?) or “Top Comebacks for ‘Hey, You Have a Smudge on Your Forehead.'”
  7. Saints of the day. Try the Saints & Angels list or American Catholic’s Saint of the Day (also an iPhone app).
  8. Almsgiving suggestions, such as charities or events you have in place; local or parish almsgivng; or solicit ways to donate to specific projects.
  9. Pinterest. It’s the new Ladies Auxiliary. Here are examples.
  10. Sackcloth fashion tips.
  11. Tweet the daily readings and a reflection. Retweet these from @TodaysReadings (by Yours Truly).
  12. Schedules for your church. Ashes schedule for Ash Wednesday (especially effective if added before the start of Lent!); Holy Week; Stations of the Cross; Penance/reconciliation services.
  13. Black History Month resources. Here’s how St. Charles does it.
  14. Suggestions for things to give up for Lent and let readers add to your list; or, on the flip side, suggetions for what to take on for Lent.
  15. RCIA convert stories. Or give an overview of the process and collect stories for next year.
  16. Instructions on how to go to confession to accompany the penance schedule of reconciliation service; add a personal reflection for bonus points.
  17. Bible mapping service that shows where your favorite passages take place on the map.
  18. Information about the art in your church. Here’s an example of stained glass windows.
  19. Palm (of your hand) Sunday. Promote the mobile version of your website.
  20. Washing of the Feet photos. Show some of your own and they are sure to attract attention. Here are some examples for you.
  21. Reflections on suffering, sacrifice or similar Lent-related themes. Or by schoolkids.
  22. Online stations of the cross. Examples: Creighton University, a version for kids and another.
  23. Online prayer partners. Create a posting page for those who want a prayer partner for Lent
  24. Your local politicians’ contact info. Prompt your visitors to pick a justice-related topic to write in about during Lent.
  25. Take a break from Lent with a March Madness parody.
  26. Shrove Tuesday – explain how this is the day before Ash Wednesday; include a favorite pancake recipe.
  27. Advertise your volunteers list or newsletters. Help those looking to do more during Lent.
  28. AmericanCatholic content – this site has ideas for each liturgical season
  29. Make your own PHP e-cards for the season.
  30. Start optimizing your site for Easter — so the crowds can find you.
  31. Assemble your pastor’s best Lent homilies.
  32. Instructions for adding your church to your will, for those thinking of almsgiving beyond Lent. Here’s how the Catholic Foundation describes the process.
  33. Online book club — read a Lent book and publish feedback.
  34. St. Patrick’s Day often is during Lent — provide links to St. Patrick and other Irish saints.
  35. Easter Resurrection Cookies recipe. Tape shut your oven door and see what happens.
  36. Online prayer tree — appropriate time to remind visitors if your church has one, or start one if you don’t.
  37. Interesting Bible sites, such as a Bible search engine or side-by-side comparisons.
  38. Catechism search engine.
  39. Operation Rice Bowl.
  40. Local resources for 12-step, self-help programs for those hoping to give up their addictions for more than the 40 days of Lent. AA meeting-finder.
  41. Basket blessings. You were good all Lent so you deserve more than a plain ol’ basket.

Since you’re thinking about how to help your readers on their Lenten journeys, what are you adding to your site for Lent?

The Greatest, or Perhaps the Worst, President’s Day Bulletin Announcement Ever

Back when I was running my church’s website, we ran this bulletin announcement every President’s Day Weekend weekend. And now it’s yours to use this year.

On Presidents’ Day Weekend, the Web Team asks you to Grant us the favor of a Polk around the parish web site, [URL]. We decided to Fillmore space by Lincoln to other great web sites. Be on the cutting- and Coolidge of technology, which we Taylor each week to meet your needs. Don’t beat around the Bush, but a-Ford yourself of this opportunity today. We’re not making this up, dude — it’s Truman!

president's day bulletin announcement
For professional use only. Handle with care.