Come to the Manger

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 something sung by him, as well as Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song,” “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.  It makes me recall my family’s white artificial tree with pink lights and tree topper.  Rationale:  Evergreen trees are green – except when they’re covered with frozen snow.  Since we couldn’t have a snow-covered tree in the house…

As for marketing your school during the Christmas season, this song title is the answer to the question, “How can I get more people to know about our school?”

You may have put an advertisement in your local Catholic newspaper or eNewsletter to your faith community; you have a column for your school every week in the church bulletin; you’ve got your school’s Facebook page, and you even have yard signs that say “Apply Now” for the coming school year. But you still need to reach MORE parents with young children. 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. Maybe they went to a Catholic or a Christian school when they were young, and just haven’t been invited to come see your school. If only there was a way…

There is!! While people “Come to the Manger” to celebrate on Christmas Day, then come to the Church and have lots of information ready to give them.

Here’s the typical response to that suggestion –

“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.”

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, please read that sentence again, and note the number of “I”s in that sentence.

There’s some wisdom out there today that says “Leadership is job one.”  Leadership isn’t a job.  A job is something you do for 8 hours (and maybe some overtime) or and then go home to family, chores, errands, and preparations for the next day…or maybe another job.

Just as stewardship and development is not “all about treasure,” leadership isn’t either. It’s all three – including time and talent. Together. All three – in one…just like God whom we worship and celebrate.

Christmas Masses and services are packed! They have lots of children there, which means they have lots of young parents there. You couldn’t ask – no, 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. I’m sure there’s more than one usher handing out bulletins at the end of Mass. And your team can include dedicated positive parents. Maybe split the schedule. If your team includes a principal, advancement director and a business manager, and several parents, including your board members.  If they’re willing to participate, it shows they’re dedicated to the success of your school.

And you don’t have to be there for all of the Masses or all of the Services.  This is not a “I’m going to do this all by myself” thing.  Jesus’ disciples went out two-by-two for a reason.  Have members of your team, dressed in their holiday finest, ready to greet people as they leave, and wish those who are leaving a Merry Christmas.

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 for the birth of our Savior, we might find 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. Mary and Joseph did – why should we expect things to be different for us?

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008-2018 (Original Publication Date: 20081215)