Would It Hurt to Put Up a Sign and a Balloon?


As I drive through various neighborhoods, I typically see no small number of lawn signs announcing yard sales, garage sales, or real estate open houses. Often, attached to the signs are a few balloons. The message is clear: this is where the action is!

Contrast that with an experience I had recently (and all too often) when I visited a parish to participate in an adult faith activity that sounded very engaging. There were no signs anywhere. I parked and walked around the parish grounds made up of five different buildings. I got back in my car and drove around the campus. No signs. After 20 minutes, I gave up and left. Would it have hurt to put up a lawn sign with a balloon?

Often, when I follow up on things like this, pastoral staff members say, “Oh, folks around here know where to go.” Therein lies the problem: we are too often catering to the “insiders” and neglecting those who may be new. Planning for, promoting, and executing every adult faith activity should target newcomers, not just the regulars. Put yourself in the shoes of a newcomer some day and go through the motions of attending an adult faith event in your parish as if it were your first time setting foot in the parish. Identify the obstacles that a newcomer will face, and work to be as inviting as possible.

Start with a sign and a balloon!

About Joe Paprocki 2748 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

5 Comments on Would It Hurt to Put Up a Sign and a Balloon?

  1. Thank you Joe! This is my main pet peeve with our parish and with many Catholic parishes. We assume everyone knows where to go! I have been standing with people outside the church door and they ask me where the church is
    We say things like “enter through the main entrance of the school” — they can’t find the school, let alone the main entrance
    Or we put up an 8 1/2 x 11 white sheet of paper that says “meeting here”
    I know that we can never do signage perfectly, but we should at least TRY.

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