Come, come, come to the manger,
Children, come to the children’s King;
Sing, sing, chorus of angels,
Stars of morning, over Bethlehem sing.
This traditional Christmas refrain was recorded by Perry Como on his Christmas album “Seasons Greetings From Perry Como.” I have to hear Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song,” The Vince Guaraldi Trio playing “Christmastime is Here,” “The Little Drummer Boy” by The Harry Simeone Chorale, and Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” – and whistling along with the whistle descant – every Christmas season. A song by Mr. Como just adds to the nostalgia.
As for marketing your Catholic school or your Christian school this Christmas season, this song title is the answer to the question, “How can I get more people to know about our school?” Remember, the goal of marketing is to increase inquiries to your school, to make people want to change their current way of thinking of simply enrolling their children in the local public school, and want to find out more about your school.
You’ve put an advertisement in the local Catholic newspaper; you have a column every week in the parish bulletin; you have yard signs that say “Apply Now” for the coming school year. But you need to reach even MORE people. As some school leaders have told me, “I want to reach more people that are of our faith tradition! If only there was a way to get to more people – all at once – all in one place – that would have at least a bit of interest about their faith, and the importance of a faith-based education. If only there was a way…”
Um…there is!! While people “Come to the Manger” to celebrate Mass on Christmas Day or services prior to the day itself, then school personnel need to come to the Church and have lots of information ready to give them. It’s your gift to them!
And here’s the typical response to that suggestion:
“Are you kidding? You’ve lost it! I spend Christmas with my family! That’s the one time of the year that I don’t even want to think about what’s going on at the school. And with all that’s going on the world, it’s the only time I have to reflect on the blessings I’ve been given. Why would I want to do more work on Christmas?”
If you’re nodding your head in agreement, please read that sentence again, and note the number of “I”s in that sentence.
Leadership isn’t a job. A job is what those workers in food service or on the manufacturing line do. A job is something you do for 8 hours (and maybe some overtime) and then go home to family, chores, errands and preparations for the next day.
Just as stewardship and development is not “all about treasure,” leadership isn’t either. It’s all three – including time and talent. Together. Three in one – just like the God that we worship and celebrate who gives us everything as gift…even His son!
Christmas Masses are usually packed – and they may be that way this year! There are lots of children there, which means there are lots of young parents there. You couldn’t ask – no – you couldn’t PAY – for a better potential audience.
And you don’t have to do it yourself. This is where your team comes in, since you probably need more than one contact point to handle the crowd as they stream out from church and out several doors. And your team can include dedicated positive parents – your school’s raving fans! If your team includes a principal, advancement director and a business manager, then each one can take one Mass with a couple of parents and maybe even their kids – dressed in the school uniform.
Perhaps your school has a bell choir. They could be in the narthex as people leave the celebration playing Christmas Carols.
And if you’re planning on celebrating Mass with your family, that’s great. Go to a different Mass time to market your school. You don’t have to be there for all of the different one – just from Communion time until all have left, since some folks will still leave Christmas Masses around the time that we share the Eucharistic meal.
Indeed – it’s a change. It’s a change in strategy, which means a change in practice, which means a change in planning, and change is uncomfortable and difficult. But change is necessary for growth. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior this Advent, we may have found we have to change some things in our personal lives to prepare our hearts.
If we find we also need to change some things in the roles in which God has placed us at this point in history to carry out His will, then we must endure those difficulties and face them with courage. Joseph, Mary and Jesus did – why should we expect things to be different for us?
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008 – 2021 (Original Publication Date: 20081215)