Sunday bulletins can be excellent ways to convey important information about ministries and happenings in and around the parish. However, the need to put the bulletins together each week on a tight deadline can turn them into catch-alls of articles, ads, and short blurbs.One parish involved in Be My Witness decided to organize the bulletin’s weekly content into categories based on the “Five Key Areas that Matter” for an evangelizing parish. As parishes strive to become more vibrant and mission-directed, they recognize the importance of five elements: the Sunday worship, the experience of welcome, the sense of belonging, opportunities for witness, and missionary outreach. The parish team had spent months assessing and discussing the critical aspects of parish life, and they wanted parishioners to view all activities through a “lens of evangelization.”
Here is how St. Helen’s in Westfield, New Jersey grouped the topics under these five headings:
- Sunday Matters: provides information on all aspects of liturgy and worship such as upcoming training for liturgical ministers and altar servers, how to get involved in music ministry, times of children’s liturgies, and dates of monthly Eucharistic Adoration following the 6:30 p.m. Mass.
- Welcome Matters: highlights how to register in the parish, get involved in a ministry for welcoming new members, and use the updated website to find information.
- Belonging Matters: captures all the ongoing activities and upcoming events that make parishioners of all ages recognize their gifts and feel engaged in parish life. A recent bulletin included topics on sign-up information for RCIA and other sacramental preparation, toddler music classes, young-adult ministry gatherings, spiritual direction, and more.
- Witness Matters: presents the ways that the parish encourages members to share their faith journey with others. The centerpiece is the small-group faith sharing for Be My Witness that gathers participants to reflect and share on their transformation into missionary disciples. Other initiatives include a training session on how to speak with someone about the Catholic faith.
- Mission Matters: last, but certainly not least, offers the many opportunities to “go from the sacristy into the street” by serving others in the parish and broader community. This section highlights the many outreach efforts including weekly deliveries to food pantries, youth visits to the local homeless shelter, and transportation for the elderly.
Parishioners have noticed the difference that this organizational scheme has made. Remarked one member, “I used to be overwhelmed by the different activities going on, but now it is easier to find ways to get involved in the parish.”
For another way to make the parish bulletin a tools of evangelization, read, "Many Voices, One Sunday Bulletin."
To learn more, read about “Five Key Areas that Matter for an Evangelizing Parish.”
Be My Witness is a parish evangelization process offered by RENEW International that equips leaders to lead change and engage parishioners as missionary disciples.