I occasionally like to review the conclusions that Dr. Charles (Chuck) Zech draws from his two books on research about behavior of Catholics. In "Why Catholics Don't Give and What Can Be Done About It" and the continuing in "Best Practices of Stewardship Parishes", Chuck observes that parishes that have active and vibrant communities accompanied by generous financial gifts use similar practices. One recurring theme relates to communicating to parishioners through tools such as newsletters and websites. Separately, Al Winseman describes levels of engagement in "Growing an Engaged Church". Church member engagement begins with "What do I get" and ranges from "What Can I Give" to "Where are we going".
The challenge for all of us continues to be time. With the high level of activity in the parish office, we find ourselves deferring some items to handle the "urgent" needs of today. Yet we must find time to provide our parishioners with interesting and useful information and evidence of how we serve out our parish mission if we are to move parishioners to higher levels of engagement. Our parishioners must feel that they belong at the parish and believe in and support the good works of our parish.
A number of parishes are stepping up to this challenge and are deploying web sites (along with other communications) that are accessible and interesting. They are taking the step to provide information that brings parishioners back for more. Our Sunday Visitor introduced "Faith In Action" websites to help parishes get up and running quickly so they can focus on specifics of the parish.
Some examples of beautiful parish websites include: www.stedwardpb.com ,
www.sjvaz.net and www.hgcatholic.org