Building Community with Ministry
Maybe you love your parish and it’s almost perfect, but it’s missing just one little thing – a niche for you. The priest is great, his homilies are good, you approve of the music, and the tabernacle is where it’s supposed to be (right in the middle, behind the alter).
If your parish could use some community beyond monthly coffee and donuts I encourage you to think about starting a ministry, a group, an event. Like Gandhi sorta said, you must be the change you wish to see in your parish.
Here’s some ministries that I’ve seen flourish in my area and in the parishes my friends attend.
First Decade Mentoring and fellowship are key to this ministry. Women who are in the first ten years of their marriages are invited to a monthly event hosted by mentor women who have been married for longer and have some wisdom to share and support to share. The evening events are hosted in the homes of the mentor moms and are filled with good eats and drinks. The evening begins by praying a decade of the rosary (it’s not so intimidating for women who don’t pray it!) and features a guest speaker and lots of time for fellowship. Guest speakers can be professional home organizers, NFP only doctors, or other mentor moms sharing their wisdom on honoring your husband, getting your kids to enjoy Mass, or laundry systems that work.
Family Movie Night Hosted in the parish hall, set up a projector and put on Up or The Incredibles. Let the kiddos come in their pj’s or comfy clothes. Pop popcorn, have a station to make snack necklaces*, and the parents can stand in the back and visit or sit with their kids and enjoy the film. If your pastor or deacon can be there to welcome everyone and even begin with a prayer – even better!
Mom Group It doesn’t need a catchy name because what it offers is fantastic; we do this at my parish so I know it to be true. Moms with little kids are hosted by moms with older kids one morning a week in our parish hall. We all bring a small contribution for a snack – grapes, muffins, whatever is on hand. We eat together and visit. Then the kids play together, supervised by the older moms, and the younger moms head to the church to pray in silence, with no one climbing on them or asking to go to the bathroom. It’s fabulous.
Luminate Your Prayer Life On a monthly basis the young adults of a local parish meet for a candlelit holy hour that includes exposition, benediction, and beautiful music. Child care is available for kids two and older and everyone gathers after the holy hour for a potluck dinner. Out of this one event many others have grown including small groups, bonfires, and service activities.
Fr. Barron / Word on Fire video small groups Personally invite people to your home for a short-term small group. Hold it on a week night, after dinner but before bedtime. (We did this over the summer so kids’ bedtimes were a little later.) Serve dessert and drinks and get a few volunteer babysitters in your playroom. Confirmation students or women who are waiting to be grandmas are perfect volunteer babysitters, I’ve found. With a HDMI cable, hook your computer to your tv and show a different Fr. Barron video each week and then debate and discuss. You may want to have a couple of prompting questions prepared ahead of time but besides that and baking some cookies and tidying your home there is little work involved. It’s helpful if you recruit a few well-catechized, outgoing friends to come every week. They can get the discussion going.
Competitive Potlucks If all else fails invite people to your home for a competitive potluck. Everyone brings their best dish and their game face. The only rule is that to vote you have to try everything. At the end of the meal everyone submits their favorite dish, the hosts tally up the points, and first, second, and third place prizes are then awarded. Prizes should be fun and simple. And if people don’t know each other don’t worry, the food is a conversation starter.
Some of these events work best if they are official parish ministries and therefore need the support of your priest however others can be done on your own. If you’ve been looking for something I hope one of these will fit the bill. Or maybe you have a ministry to add to my list – please leave a comment.
And remember, the glory of God is man fully alive, and our faith is fun.