What gets people in the door?
Church video nights aren't really that effective as a way of attracting new people, since the law (in both the US and UK) is very strict in prohibiting the title of the film being advertised to the general public. Even if the church has a Church Video License, it can only advertise the title being shown internally. Flyers are a big no-no.Violating copyright in this way is a federal crime, with a possible penalty of $150,000 (http://www.mplc.org/copyright). It seems a pretty risky way of trying to boost church attendance, especially when the film is as lame as Secret Lives of Pets.
Maybe Christmas markets in the German tradition during the Christmas Season instead of Holiday Fairs? Would an occasional parish feast on a Catholic Feast Day be wrong? It is odd to drive by some parishes every day only to see them vacant except for Sundays
Anonymous at 12:54 has a good idea. I don't think free showings of a movie at a pot luck dinner pose any issues. Only if you are chrging for it or there is some sort of business transaction like a restaurant.
I think a movie night is fine as an ancillary activity to build community. Our parish has monthly dinners, monthly donut Sundays, and an annual picnic. These events don't really bring a lot of new people in, although the dinners have brought a few. But that's not the point. If we want a Church where the emphasis in worship is oriented toward God (and we do!) then we need other opportunities to make friends and have fun.
I too agree with Anonymous @ 12:54. I think there is nothing wrong with social events at a parish so long as it fosters fellowship among its members in the first instance. Parishioners should get to know each other, socialize, patronize each other's businesses etc. to build a stronger parish community in addition to building up the actual community where its members live, do business and perhaps also work. During the years of the great immigration into the U.S., parishes often had events and dances. At these dances, those who migrated alone might meet a future spouse. The Italians had societies often affiliated with a particular parish that sponsored festivals honoring the patron from their hometown. The Slavic peoples had male choirs (e.g. Russian and Rusyn), dance troupes, drama societies that reenacted sacramental/cultural events like a Rusyn wedding etc. To the point, I think events that solidify the existing community and promote both Catholic and personal culture are constructive and therefore fine. From a Catholic perspective, however, using events with free food and entertainment for purposes of evangelization, to me, is miss-placed effort and won't likely lead to solid, committed, long-term membership. For that type of growth, we should rely on the sacraments presented in continuity with our traditions.
If we understand that this sort of thing is a byproduct of our spiritual growth then it is a good thing. If it is only fritters on a tree used to trap or entice people it is doomed and will take the rest of the parish with it.
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