As regular readers know, this past year, I dedicated my time and efforts to working in the area of adult faith formation, and I’ve discovered many ideas and strategies along the way, and we’ve had some marvelous discussions about some of these.
One thing I had hoped for more success in was discovering the keys to getting adults to respond to/attend adult faith formation offerings. In that area, I must admit, I feel like Geraldo Rivera promising to reveal the secrets of Al Capone’s vault and coming up empty! I’m glad my efforts were not being broadcast on national television!
On several occasions, we tried inviting adults—specifically parents of children in R.E.—to attend adult formation opportunities while the children were attending class. We made the time convenient, we offered pizza, we had inviting topics and an engaging format, we publicized, and in the end, we had as much success as Geraldo did! Suffice it to say, I will not be writing a book soon about the secrets to getting adults to attend faith formation opportunities. Overall, there is no magic wand.
That’s not to say that many folks are not experiencing success. I posted about the wonderful success that a parish in New Lennox, IL is experiencing; however, that is a format in which parents are required to attend. I was amazed and delighted (as well as green with envy!) when my colleague Martin Lopez shared this picture of a parish in Alamo, TX, of a room full of parents attending non-mandatory faith formation sessions while their kids attended classes. (Actually, Martin says they are required to attend two sessions, but they just keep coming week after week.)
So how do they do it? I believe it takes years of building a culture that says, “adults come first!” It requires nothing less than the re-education of the entire parish community. It requires building on small successes and relentlessly offering opportunities. That takes hard work and is not something that can be accomplished simply by offering an event with pizza once or twice and then wondering why no one shows up.
What are your thoughts about keys to getting adults to respond to/attend adult faith formation opportunities?