If the last year has taught us anything, it's that we need community! As restrictions start to ease and we get used to socially-distanced life, you may be starting to think about how to welcome your community back to the church, not just for Mass, but also for parish life.
Feeling stuck? Here are some ideas to get you started!
But what about...?
Here are some common reasons I've found that churches don't have events:
We don't have the money for it. So charge for the materials! Many families would be willing to pay $10 or $20 to have a good, Catholic event where they can take their family. While it's great if you can cover the cost of the event, charging a little bit isn't a bad thing. (Also, more engaged parishioners are more likely to give on Sundays when the collection basket comes around...sometimes you have to spend money to make it!)
We don't have the time. That's where I come in. Contact me to learn about virtual event planning for churches! (I promise, it's reasonably priced and you can easily recoup the cost by charging a little for your event!)
We don't know what to plan. That's what this list is for! I promise, these aren't just the boring old church potluck - these are events your parishioners will actually want to attend.
Bottom line: Not every family is going to start out gungho about Mass. But have a fun, educational event, and you might have just found a way to reach those unengaged Catholics in your area and plant a seed for conversion!
50+ Church Event Ideas
1. Church scavenger hunt: Provide a list of things families need to take selfies with around the church campus.
2. Car parade: Parishioners can decorate their cars and best decorated wins a prize.
3. Virtual rosary: Invite 50 families to record a video of themselves saying a Hail Mary, and put it together into a video.
5. Outdoor stations of the cross: Even if you don't have outdoor stations, you can designate certain spots around your campus to stop and pray!
6. Building a home altar: Lead a workshop over Zoom on how to create a home altar for the Domestic Church.
7. Parish recipe book: Have parishioners send in their favorite family recipes and put the book together to sell as a fundraiser!
8. Virtual Mass set-up: Invite parishioners to share pictures of their Mass set-ups and award a prize for the best decorated house for virtual Mass.
9. Play Mass sets: Offer a virtual Mass set painting class with these DIY Mass sets!
12. Drive-through living stations: Parishioners don't have to leave their cars to enjoy Stations!
13. Card crafts: Create cards to send to the local nursing home.
14. Prayer chain: After Mass, invite families to write on one (or a few!) strips of paper to create a prayer chain for local first responders.
15. Blankets for vets: Ask for a volunteer who knits or crochets (there's sure to be dozens!) to lead a class on making a simple square. Sew all the squares together to make one (or several!) blankets for the local vet center.
16. Dinner for the homeless: Such events are popular around the holidays, but what about a random cold February night?
17. Community garden: Designate a small plot of land on the church grounds as a community garden. Families can take small plots to grow fruits and vegetables to be donated to the food pantry.
18. Cooking class: Everyone loves a good cooking class, especially when the food made can be donated to those in need!
19. Advent wreath: Provide instructions and materials for families to make their own Advent wreaths!
20. All Saints Day costume contest: Dress up as a saint and do a "runway" where each dressed up parishioner shares a few facts about their saint.
21. Living as a Saint: Pick a saint's time period and have activities from that time, such as popular games and foods.
22. Holy Week: Lead a small group discussion through Holy Week with this journal (bulk discount available for parishes!)
23. St. Joseph's Day: Offer a retreat for dads in honor of St. Joseph.
24. Father's Day: Have families shower your parish priests with decorated thank you cards!
25. Christmas Tree Lighting: Find a tall tree on your parish property and decorate it with lights. If you have an outdoor Nativity. This would be a great night to unveil it as well.
26. Teaching Mass: Offer a service that walks through each part of the Mass and why we do what we do!
27. Tough questions: A lecture series on "tough questions" of the faith and how to talk about them
28. Catholic Jeopardy: Catholic trivia in the form of the beloved game show
29. Bible Bee: Like a spelling bee, but with Bible questions instead!
30. Stump the priest: Invite parishioners to submit questions and see if they can stump the priest.
31. Witness story: Offer a workshop on how to share your witness story - and figure out what it is!
32. Pastor for a Day: Allow someone to screen the pastor for a day (within reason - no sneaking in on confessions!) to see what it's like to be a busy priest.
33. Universal Church: Have a cultural fair with booths from different Catholic countries around the world.
34. Rosary-making workshop: Teach families how to make their own rosaries.
35. Decorate a family cross: Unfinished crosses can make a great decoration activity for families! Check these out from Rough 2 Rustic.
36. Catholic arts fair/festival: Allow local Catholic artists to showcase their work.
37. Sacrament scrapbooks: Parishioners can learn how to document their children's sacramental milestones (These sacrament scrapbooks are wonderful!).
38. Lego churches: Have Lego Church Project visit your church with a display and then challenge your parishioners to try their hand at making their own!
39. Religious paint by number: Perhaps related to a theme like Holy Week (Last Supper)!
40. Family mission statement: Teach families how to make their own mission statements and have them decorate them.
41. Family portrait: Offer family portrait sessions and put the photos into a parish directory.
42. Family patron saint: Help families decide on their patron saint and then present on it.
43. Family game night: Minute-to-Win-It style games are popular for these!
44. Bible charades: This is sure to create some laughs!
45. Family Holy Hour: Sometimes, families feel insecure about attending Adoration with littles, so offer an hour just for them! (Here are some kid-friendly ideas to have on hand during Adoration.)
46. Kickball tournament - You need a wide open space for this one, but nothing quite says spring has sprung than kickball!
47. Olympics - Have fun games in the church parking lot like wacky wiffleball, beach ball volleyball, and tug of war.
48. Rosary walk - Walk around the church property at twilight praying the rosary. Throw in some flicker candles for ambiance!
49. Saints and smores - Start up the bonfire and learn about the saints while munching on smores.
50. Senior dance: Pick an era and crank up the tunes!
51. Prayer buddies: Pair up older and younger parishioners to pray for one another for a year and then do a grand reveal party.
52. Talent show: You'll be surprised the hidden talents your parishioners have (and what you may be able to use their help with!)
53. Best Dessert Fair: Okay, I said no potlucks, but seriously, who can pass on dessert? Offer a taste test of some of your parish's bakers and see which one comes out on top!
54. Date night: Bring in a clean comedian and offer dinner, dancing, and a show!
55. Candlelit rosary: Pray the rosary in the church just by candlelight.
56. Praise and worship coffee house: Turn on the Keurig and bring in the local praise and worship band for a night of song.
57. Singles volunteer project: Typical singles events are awkward, but get singles together on a volunteer project to break the ice.
58. Writers Retreat: Offer the parish grounds for the day as an inspirational place to get some writing or journaling done.
Keep checking back as we update this list with more event ideas!