Welcoming Language

A few years ago I wrote a piece of Stewardship Wisdom about language called “Inside Catholic Baseball” (and I even revised it once – which I’m going to do again today). Last week a co-worker sent me a video about hospitality that remarked on the words we use (or do use) for people to come to our parishes. Think about your parish, what signs point you to the office? The Church? The Restrooms? Meeting rooms? The Cry Room?

She even asked us to reconsider what we call The Cry Room … how can we make this space more inviting for families to utilize as necessary rather than somewhere they are sent for a timeout when needed?

Our team at OSV talked about these ideas of Hospitable Language in our Monday morning meeting – are we presenting our parishes in a way that is inviting. Has your pastor, associate, and/or deacons introduced themselves? Do the people in your pew know each other’s names? Are your restrooms easy to find? Do they all have a changing table (both the men’s and the women’s)? Is there a place where a mother could nurse her child? Are there arrows in the parking lot directing people where to go? Is someone greeting parishioners when they walk in with a smile (I received the most delightful comment from this week’s greeter on my dress – it made me enter Mass with a smile!)?

Think about your written communication: Is it written for someone with a Master’s in Theology who’s been at the parish for decades? Or for a new person who hasn’t quite gotten involved yet? Is your website geared toward parishioners or newcomers? Where are your Mass times? Is your address and phone number easy to find?

These things seem so simple and I bet many of you have already checked out of this article – but even the big, thriving parishes I work with are missing these simple key entry points.

They seem small, but to the new person, they are everything. So take some time this week to look at all aspects of hospitality and identify where you can grow.

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