Sunday, September 6, 2009

Our High-Tech Parish

Today, Sunday, St. Mary's is rolling out an intiative which has never been tried at any other church - at least I have never heard of another church doing something even close.

But, before I tell you the very cool news, let me give you some background on the situation.

THE PROBLEM
As is the case with every church/parish, we all try to have those who attend church with us register as parishioners. Most parishes will put out cards and some even have on-line registration. Many people don't register, because they don't want to go through the trouble. This is especially true of college students who have never registered growing up, because their parents did it. Additionally, we have a problem that is much bigger than most parishes registration problems. We have hundereds of students coming and going throughout the year. So, keeping track of their data is very difficult, esp. when it changes. Our registration has never gone well. So, we decided to wipe the board clean and start over.

THE SOLUTION
We told everyone (last weekend) to bring their phones to mass this weekend, but we didn't tell them why. The intrigue is half the fun. After the homily, the priests have everyone pull out their phones and turn them on - the first time a priest has ever done this, to be sure. The priests then talk about how everyone at Mass is joined together in the Universal Chursh as well as in this parish, and we want to know who they are so that we can serve them better. Furthermore, everyone is invited to register with us by texting us their names, email, and phone #. We then download their information into a database. Later this week Fr. David will send them an email and ask them to go to our website to finish the registration process (check out our newly designed page). If they didn't have a cell phone we have them register the "old-fashioned" way with pen and paper.

We have partnered with a great new company called Flocknote.com. Flocknote is a free and easy way for parishes to communicate with their parishioners in whatever way they choose. So, anyone can sign up to receive updates from St. Mary's, via Flocknote, by email, texting, or even Facebook. Each individual chooses their way we communicate with them. They can also sign up for all of our parish organizations and receive information from them as well.

Finally, a few weeks after registration, we we will ask all students to fill out a survey that was developed in partnership with A&M to help us get more detailed info on our congregation, why they come to Mass, when they come, what they like, what they are involved in, why they aren't involved outside of Mass, etc.

St. Mary's is once again paving the way for others.
Please pray for success of our efforts.

Here is a 30 second intro to Flocknote:


Did I mention that the founders and owners of both Flocknote and eCatholicChurches (the company who hosts our website) are both Aggie Catholics?

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