THE PROBLEMAs 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. Some don't do it because they don't want to be tied to a specific parish. Some have other reasons, but the net result is a large percentage of those who attend Mass at most parishes do not register. 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 last year.
THE SOLUTIONBoth last year and this year we told everyone (starting a week before) to bring their phones to mass this last weekend, but we didn't tell them why, because 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 hold up signs with directions while the priest tells them what to do verbally as well. The whole process takes about 3 minutes.
We use an aircard for the texting, which allows wireless access for a laptop anywhere via cell phone service, to download all registrations texted to us, import them into Flocknote.com, then we send them a message to complete the registration process.
Tuesday I will will send them a message (from our pastor, Fr. David) and ask them to go to our website to finish the registration process. If they complete the process they are automatically signed up to win one of the following prizes:
- An Apple Ipad
- 5 students get to go to Lunch with the priests and head football coach Mike Sherman
- 5 students get to go to Lunch with the priests and head basketball coach Mark Turgeon
- One of 20 gift certificates
Please pray for success of our efforts. A short introductory video on Flocknote.com's page gives you a nice quick way to understand their efforts. Also, I know that Flocknote is currently working on incorporating a 5-digit texting number into their website, so that other parishes can duplicate our efforts here at St. Mary's. So, it should be even easier to accomplish our goals next year.
Did I mention that the founders and owners of both Flocknote and eCatholicChurches (the company who hosts our website) are Aggie Catholics?
UPDATE (9/9/10): TX State has already followed suit and Yale is planning on doing so as well. Now, we need to get other parishes, ministries, and apostolates to follow suit.