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!