Catholic Direct Marketing Doesn’t Use “Amish Thinking”

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Have you ever spoken to an Amish person about why they do what it is they do? Why they build buildings in the manner they use? Why they farm the way they farm? Why they make their clothing the way they make it?

The reason the Amish will always give for the “why” of anything is… “That’s just the way we’ve always done it.”

They really don’t know why they do the things the way they do them except that their way is the only way they’ve ever done them. We Catholics are usually guilty of Amish thinking. When I visit parishes and speak to parish priests and the parishioners about why certain things are done the way they are, I usually get the Amish response—“That’s just the way we’ve always done it.”

The problem with “that’s the way we’ve always done it” is, we keep right on doing it the same way long after it becomes evident that what we’re doing isn’t working. One of the reasons Pope St. John XXIII called Vatican II was to bring the Church into the modern era. So after the Council there were all sorts of new things implemented. Some of those things have been abandoned, others are still with us. But after the newness wore off the Council and it no longer was the most recent shiny object on our tool belt, we slipped back into the Amish thinking of “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” The result for most parishes and Catholic schools has been stagnation at best or decline at worst.
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The problems associated with Amish thinking are really beginning to cost us… big time! And even from casual observation, it seems like those problems are compounding for us almost exponentially. From my experience, here are some of the problems associated the Amish thinking we’ve allowed ourselves to lapse in to over the last forty years or so:

  • Our schools lose students every year, mainly due to the increasing costs of tuition, materials, and necessary charges added on to student enrollment.
  • If student retention is a problem, making a parish school appealing enough to families within the parish boundaries to grow new student enrollment is a near impossibility.
  • We are watching our parish numbers shrink annually, completely at a loss as to how to retain parishioners and get them more engaged.
  • Our collections are shrinking in direct correlation to the loss of parishioners, as well as the effects of a stagnate economy—coffers shrink while costs increase.
  • To the continual frustration of parish priests, their parishioners simply don’t know the teachings of the Church as they once did in a bygone era, and pastors are at a loss as to how to motivate a change that will cause their people to learn the faith.
  • In most parishes, the parish rolls are anywhere from two to four times as large as the actual numbers of Catholics who regularly attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and again the pastor is at a loss as to how to get folks more to attend—especially with regularity and frequency.
  • Also in most parishes it is the same handful of parishioners who do everything… because apathy reigns and people don’t really see the need to do more than they do.
  • In virtually all parishes, 10% of the people are accountable for 90% of the parish’s financial resources, which in many cases means the possibility of the bishop having to consider consolidating parishes and closing the doors of one or more churches.
  • Finally, for far too many Catholics today the Church simply isn’t relevant to them anymore.

But there are solutions to these and other problems experienced by parish churches, and those solutions are much simpler than you might think.

Click here to learn how simple those solutions can be.