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Room at the Inn: Planning Kit to Prepare for Christmas Visitors

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On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, your parish is likely visited by many unfamiliar faces.  Here is a great opportunity for you to make an impression on these occasional visitors: to make them feel welcome and make a case for why the Catholic faith and your parish matters in their lives.  Don't miss your chance!

This very practical guide includes:

  • suggestions on how to form a "Room at the Inn" team and structure meetings
  • single-page handouts on key approaches with specific ideas for implementation, designed for easy group discussion
  • a calendar listing suggested action steps by when they should occur
  • three of our free resources that can be used as gifts for your attendees

The guide (briefly) covers the following topics:

  • Putting on their Shoes - Look at your parish from the perspective of a visitor
  • All Hands on Deck - Hospitality requires everyone from the pastor to those sitting in the back pews to be intentional: here's where to start
  • Check Your Attitude - Subtle judgmental attitudes can undermine your attempts to be welcoming: here's how to get on the same page
  • First Contact - Visitors' first experience will be through your website or phone line: don't lose them before they set foot on your grounds
  • Make the Invitation - Personal and impersonal invitations can make a big difference: make sure visitors know you want them to come
  • Entering Bethlehem - Make sure your visitors get into your pews feeling welcomed, not grumpy
  • At the Service - Engage your visitors during the service and lay a foundation for future contact
  • The Message - The homily is one of the largest factors determining whether visitors will return: here's what to say (and not say)
  • Send a Gift Home - Give visitors something to remember you by and enrich their faith
  • Next Steps - Learn from your efforts and follow up with your visitors

Make a difference to visitors this Christmas, and use this as a launching point to become a more welcoming community throughout the year.

Paul Canavese has his MTS from the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley.  He has served in a wide range of parish ministries, most recently as a pastoral consultant at St. Augustine in Oakland, CA.  He is a frequent conference speaker and directs GospelLiving.org (focused on "intentional daily life Catholicism") and GrowingUpCatholic.com (focused on coaching parents). Paul also has 20 years of software development experience with technology startups.

Ann Naffziger has her MDiv from the Jesuit School of Theology and MA in Biblical Languages from the Graduate Theological Union, both in Berkeley.  Ann has worked in a variety of parish roles, as well as a hospital chaplain, spiritual director, scripture instructor, and lecturer at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University. She has written articles in the field of spirituality and scripture for AmericaBustedHalo.comCommonwealThe National Catholic ReporterSpiritual Life: A Journal of Contemplative Spirituality, and other publications. She is also a Master Gardener and girls' softball coach.

This reproducible eResource is sold with a lifetime license for use within a congregation. You are allowed to make unlimited copies for use within your own community. You may also email these to members of your team or participants in your program. If you serve more than one congregation, each should purchase its own license. You may not post our eResources to any web site without explicit permission to do so. Please contact us if you have any questions. Thank you for cooperating with our honor system regarding our product licenses.

Cover photo by Doremo, Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0.

From our partners at The Pastoral Center

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