Invite One Back Initiative

Make Your Flock Whole

It’s a familiar story: the family you used to see at Mass every week slowly stopped showing up when “life got busy.” Or maybe there’s an elderly parishioner you haven’t seen since the COVID-19 pandemic a few years ago. Noticeable or not, we all have holes in our pews.

A 2014 PEW study found that 13% of all U.S. adults are former Catholics—and that was ten years ago! That means for every convert to the faith, there are at least 6.5 fallen-away Catholics. COVID-19 amplified this problem. A 2022 CARA study showed a 7% decline in Sunday Mass attendance compared with pre-COVID data. This significant portion of Catholics lost connection with their local parish during the shutdowns, and just never came back.

It’s time to bring them home.

In this Year of Parish Revival, we are inviting clergy and parish leaders to pursue each lapsed member of their flock. Just like the Good Shepherd, we will call each of the lost sheep home as a part of the Invite One Back initiative. This campaign begins now in anticipation of the upcoming Year of Mission, when the wider Church will be sent out to win new souls for Christ. Returning fallen-away members to the fold will set the groundwork for this new missionary chapter.

The goal of this initiative is to guide people to intimate encounters with Jesus Christ and lead souls to salvation, allowing them to experience God’s love, mercy, and goodness. To do that, we all need to invite back everyone who has left in a way that makes sure they feel seen and desired as an individual member of your parish family. Whom are you called to invite home?

Click below to learn more about this timely initiative, and scroll down on this page for resources and information about how you can get started!

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Download in Spanish

An African American man prays in a church pew

Whom to Invite

Before you begin outreach, the clergy, staff, and leadership team at your parish will need to discern the following:

  • Who will receive these invitations? Make a list of parishioners you haven’t seen in a while or people who used to be members of your parish, and start praying for them now. Discern how you can best reach each member of that group, and make a plan to contact each one of them in whatever way would be most meaningful.

  • Who will intercede for this initiative? Put together a team of prayer warriors dedicated to covering every fallen-away member of your parish in prayer. This is a great way to involve the whole parish in this meaningful campaign!

Your Tool Kit

Once you’ve discerned the right people to contact and enlisted intercessors for your campaign, it’s time to pursue the lost sheep! We’ve created a variety of resources you can use to re-engage lapsed members of your parish. Each community is a little different, so choose the methods of communication you believe will be the most personal and effective for the people you serve. If you feel inspired to “invite one back” in a different way, that works too! There is plenty of room for creativity in this campaign. Know that we are praying for you on this journey.

An African American man prays in a church pew

Letters

One of the best ways to reach lapsed parishioners is with a direct, personal invitation in the form of a letter. Below, you’ll find a few options for letters you can use as a template. 

Choose the letter that will best resonate with your community, and copy the text of that document onto your parish letterhead. Feel free to personalize the content, and be sure to edit the custom fields so they contain the correct information!

Mail a letter to each person on the outreach list you discerned above. These invitations can also be sent via email, but in general, a physical letter will be most impactful.

Click below to download each document as a Microsoft Word file.

Inviting Back After Covid

We Miss You

Join the National Eucharistic Revival

Postcards

Another great option to reach your invitees is with beautiful printed postcards. These will catch the attention of the receiver, and postage costs will be lower than other mail options.

To help you create a beautiful postcard, we’ve prepared templates below using a system called Canva. Canva is a free design program that will allow you to begin with our template and customize it for your parish. Then, you can download the files to print yourself, bring the files to a local printer, or order prints right in Canva.

Phone Calls

Having a conversation on the phone with each invitee will take time, but it is by far the most personal way to engage your fallen-away parishioners. This is because it creates the opportunity for two-way communication. On a call, you can find out why they haven’t been active at the parish and how they might need your prayers or other support. You can then respond appropriately to what they share, making them feel heard and desired as a member of your parish community.

Below, you’ll find call scripts to use as a starting point for this outreach as well as some “tips and tricks” for this sort of call. Don’t let these confine your conversations, but rather use them for inspiration as you encounter and connect with your parishioners!

Click below to download each document as a Microsoft Word file.

downloads

Post-COVID Invitation
Prayer Intention
New Pastor Introduction

Best Practices

Here are some useful tips for engaging people over the phone:
Prepare with a Prayer
Ask Jesus to give you his heart for this person before you pick up the phone, and invite the Holy Spirit into the conversation. God knows exactly what this person needs to hear and will speak through you.
Keep Voicemails Short
Many people subconsciously associate the length of the voicemail with the amount of effort necessary to call back. Keep your first voicemail short and sweet. You can give more detail in the next voicemail if they miss your call a second time.
Don’t Monologue
Give the other person a chance to speak within the first 15 seconds. Asking something simple like “How have you been?” before launching into the reason for your call is a great way to get the other person more invested in the conversation.
Project Familiarity
Even if you don’t personally know the recipient of your call, they used to be a valued member of your parish family. On behalf of your parish, speak with the warmth that comes with that connection.
Use Your History
If you DID personally interact with the parishioner when they were active at the parish, work as many details as you can into the conversation.
Assume the Best
The goal of every call is to make the person on the other end feel seen, heard, valued, and desired as a member of your community. They should hear genuine concern in your voice, never accusation or judgment.
Ask Open Questions
If you leave them room to answer with a yes or no, chances are they will choose to do so. These one-word responses won’t allow you to truly connect with the person on the other end of the call, and you won’t gain any insight into why they stopped coming to Mass or where they could use support from the parish community. Open ended questions allow you to encounter more of their heart and mind in their answers.
Respond Appropriately
Their responses might pull you “off script”—and that’s ok! The most important thing is that you connect with them, wherever they’re at.
Take Notes
When making a lot of calls, it can be easy to forget the details of each conversation. Have a pen and paper handy so you can remember what they shared with you. That way you can reference what you discussed next time you speak (e.g., “How’s your nephew feeling after his surgery?”).
Don’t Hang Up Without a Plan
If they have questions about Catholicism, have you set up a time for them to come speak with the pastor? If they’re homebound, are you going to send an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to their home with the Body of Christ? Or are they going to say hello to you after Mass this Sunday to continue your conversation? Do your best to get their verbal agreement to a specific action and timeline. The more specific the commitment, the more likely people are to follow through. Reiterate these agreements at the end of the conversation so they’re fresh in both your minds, and write them down.
Follow Up
Text or email after your call to thank them for their time and/or openness. Remind them of any commitments they made. (e.g., “I’ll see you at 11am Mass on Sunday!”) This makes it even more likely they will follow through.

Training Webinars

We hosted webinars in English and Spanish to answer questions and ensure Parish Leaders have everything they need to implement this at their parishes. View the recordings below as you use these resources in your community!