Why You Should Write a Parish Tagline (& How to Do It)

March 28, 2019  •   Anna Carter



You’ve heard them before. Just do it. A diamond is forever. Breakfast of champions. How about these? Following Jesus in the Foothills. Seeking Christ Together. Engaged in our Catholic Tradition. Broken, Blessed and Sent. They could be your next parish tagline!

Well, the first few are taken. That last suggestion is on the house! You may not have previously considered a parish tagline. After all, “doesn’t everyone know who we are?” The answer to that question may be a little different than you might think. Here’s why taglines can help and how to create one.

Give Your Visitors a Sign

When someone visits your parish for the first time, one of the first places they’ll look is the sign out front. When someone stops by your parish website, the first thing they’ll see is the header. They may be unsure, because they don’t quite know who you are yet. “Is this parish really for me? Am I in the right place?” Evidently, you worship the Holy Trinity or someone at some point had a devotion to St. Bernadette. More than simply the name of your community, a tagline can signify to visitors where your priorities lie.

Give Your Parishioners a Rallying Point

Your parish likely already has a mission or vision statement. However, they can be anywhere from one full sentence (usually with multiple clauses) or paragraphs of text. They don’t always roll off the tongue! A tagline is a simplification, a zeroing-in of focus. It takes the mission of your parish and condenses it into one empowering phrase. The tagline should be easy to memorize and to incorporate into homilies, religious education efforts, stewardship campaigns, and any print or digital marketing.

Represent Your Community

Taglines are memorable phrases that represent who you are and what you stand for. At their heart, your parish “stands for” Christ and the Catholic Church. Yet each parish has its own character, shaped by the neighborhoods and demographics they serve. The parish is local and so, too, are its strengths, weaknesses, and areas of emphasis. In that sense, your parish does have unique values and priorities. These should shine through in your tagline.

So How Do You Do it?

Creating a tagline is more than cobbling together spiritually exciting words! It’s about identifying what makes your parish unique and having the courage to clearly and succinctly proclaim it to others. Having a clear plan in advance can save your effort from “death by committee” before the tagline even sees the light of day! Below are some tips for the tagline creation process.

  • Gather Stakeholders: This doesn’t just mean the parish council. Consider the different demographics represented in your parish, particularly the quieter groups of those not typically involved in leadership. They might have perspectives on your parish’s character that those “on top” might miss.
  • Write Down Key Words: Some advocate writing down every word you can think of. 10 from each person could also suffice. Why so many? Seeing these words all together on paper can help you to detect patterns and themes across participants.
  • List Your Strengths & Weaknesses: What is your parish good at? Where can you do better? The latter may seem counterintuitive, but it could spark conversation about your parish values, and further clarify why energy gets channeled in the directions it currently does.
  • Examine the Fruit: “By their fruits you will know them,” Jesus said. Look at the clear, concrete outcomes in your parish. These could be spiritual fruits like joy, peace, kindness, evangelistic zeal. They could also be quantifiable fruits, like more people enrolled in RCIA than ever before. Be descriptive. What fruit is your community bearing?
  • Prune the Branches: Practically speaking, this can be the work of a smaller group of individuals. It’s their task to assemble the pages and pages of ideas from the previous three recommendations. Where are the commonalities? These should be noted in a “keep” list. What suggestions have appeared only once or twice? Do these seem like the pet priorities of the few people, or were they prophetic points that later resonated with the group? Every idea is a valid idea, but very few valid ideas will make it into your tagline.
  • Assemble Your Options: From the ideas that really stick, thoughtfully narrow it down to a few key ideas and create sample taglines. When assembling your top options, ask yourselves a few questions. Does it include something unique to your community, or could it be applied equally to all parishes in a 10 mile radius? Does it represent your whole parish or a nice interest? Think of the visitor driving by your parish sign — does it need to be explained or does it work on its own? Will this still represent the core personality and mission of your parish in five to ten years?
  • Put Them to the Test: Once you’ve narrowed down a short list, anywhere from three to ten options, sit on it. Invite the stakeholders team to prayerfully reflect on the options on their own and share what resonates with them. Which of the options are they excited to share with others? Realize, of course, that you still need to pick one. By this point, you should have already decided who has the final say. Eventually, somebody needs to make the decision for your vibrant parish.

Does your parish have a tagline? We’d love to hear it in the comments below! Or need a little help?


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