The challenge for parish leaders is to be sure the parish remains connected to the mission. When we lose that connection it can become too easy to focus inward on the problems with our parish life and/or issues in the Catholic Church today. There are challenges that the Catholic Church faces in 2023, but this is the time to shift our focus and build up our parishes to be motivators and missionaries to our communities rather than museums. Catholic Church problems of today are different from those of the past, and thankfully with the help of technology, we are able to address concerns in a proactive, productive and connected manner.
Is My Parish Safe?
The Church is a sacred place. It’s where we worship, learn, and grow. We all want to feel safe and secure when we come together as a community to worship. Through vetting your people and facilitating open conversations with all members, you’re protecting your congregation and community. Utilize background screening when inviting a new leader or staff member to your congregation. Knowing a person’s background will give you a comprehensive understanding of their past. It can shed light on their morals and allow you to determine whether those morals align with your ministry. Make time to talk to vulnerable member groups about protecting themselves. By staying vigilant and talking about these hard topics, you can ensure you have a sacred and secure environment for all and help eradicate one of the most pressing Catholic Church issues.
Is My Parish Relevant?
If we are to move forward in apostolic mission, then our parishes must be contextually relevant and adaptive while also faithful to the teachings of the Catholic church. Popes John Paul II, Benedict and Francis have all encouraged us to be a missionary Church. The Bishop’s pastoral letter for Stewardship defines seven steps to success for dioceses and parishes, and No. 3 is Hospitality, Evangelization and Outreach.
This shift also requires a more personalized accompaniment for each person’s faith journey. This year will be a time of listening for our Catholic Church. It’s up to us to determine if we install synodality as the new norm. It’s up to us to choose to move boldly in apostolic mission and relevance, to invite people into our community, or to close ourselves to change. Our ability to lead will help us to choose our path and our trust in Christ will take us there.
Is My Parish Tech Savvy to Connect with Me?
Relationships are critical to a healthy church. People want to feel a sense of belonging but, sometimes, it can be hard to stay connected. Technology can be your best team member for managing and nurturing more relationships and a massive asset for teams. It’s like a 24/7/365 staff member managing and delivering key information when you need it. A strong tech system means you can better build more relationships with a smaller staff. No more having to remember what happened to who and when.
As a lay leader, you more than likely can’t personally connect with each and every person in your parish on a regular basis to address current problems in the Catholic Church or in the community and world around us. This is where your group leaders come in to assist the mission. Whether your leaders are staff members, lay leaders, or volunteers within your congregation, they can be equipped with communication tools to reach out to all those in your congregation outside of your church walls. How we are able to share the Good News has changed. How we can forge relationships in the church to be stronger is also changing with the power of technology.
I Attend Mass; What Else Does My Parish Offer?
To accompany our parishioners and also reach out to the community, our parish must act as a “parish of parishes” through groups that enable and support each other. This has long been true of parishes with significant ethnic groups. And, now we see it is the way we can appeal to different age groups in various stages of conversion and faith formation. The small groups can be contextually relevant; they can allow the group to move at their own pace. Technology can help. Resources can also provide data about your community, which can help you identify which small groups might be needed for mission focus. A platform designed with features for small groups, can offload staff so you have more time for personal ministry. Personal connections can’t be built on a one-to-many mindset, but you can assemble your congregation into small groups to allow better bonding opportunities.
Is My Parish in Touch with Me and My Community?
Knowing your community, its interests, and the people who live in it should help shape the outreach of your parish. Leverage your church management software platform to learn more about your current congregation. People have a strong desire to be in a community with others with similar interests. You must have a holistic view of The Church and her members, and your community. This data will prove valuable and will help inform the decisions you make at your parish. It will allow you to choose which ministries to invest into to a greater degree and give you the ability to communicate more effectively with your community. It will help you better understand what activities or topics your members and your community enjoy or care about. This knowledge of technology can shape your worship, care, missions, outreach program, events, giving, and so much more.
We agree that our mission is to reach our communities and invite them into our parish family so that they have a relationship with Christ and can use their unique gifts and talents to help reach others. Yes, as The Church, we face challenges and we must continue to seek opportunities for new ways to do things and improve processes. Let us not grow complacent, and as a result, the parish will grow. We must pray fervently and ask God to do more than we could ever ask or imagine in His Church and our local communities so that He is magnified beyond all expectation.
Know the Secrets of Adapting to an Ever-Changing Culture. If you want to reach more people, this guide will give you an inside look at what practices and initiatives growing churches will do this year.
Please also see ACSTCatholic.com for more information.
Chris serves as the Vice President of MinistryPlatform, which provides the most powerful and flexible Church Management System for membership, group involvement, check-scanning, contributions, event management, check-in, and public website integration – including online giving and online event registration. He leads the team finding new ways to help the Church engage with people by using information. Chris was CEO of Think Ministry / MinistryPlatform before merging with ACS Technologies in April 2021.