A question I am asked a lot is “How do you even determine what’s important for a Parish Vision Plan?” I use three major things to determine what’s important enough to include and what parishes might be missing out on.
The first is a parish survey that I developed. I sat down one day and said “what do I want to know about the people who attend this parish?” The answer including the following items:
- How do you prefer to receive communication? Are our methods effective?
- Does Mass enrich your spiritual life? Is there anything regarding the Liturgy that we can do better?
- Do you feel welcome here? How?
- What does your prayer life look like outside of Mass?
- How do children perceive our faith formation programming and do they want to be involved?
- Are we doing enough service and outreach?
- What do you think we should look at in the next few years?
The results are interesting and pretty complete. Some responses are very helpful, others, not so much.
The second method of gathering information and determining the future goals and vision is learning from the pastor, staff, ministry leaders, and leadership team members what they see at the parish. Overall we want to know what’s working and what’s not working so we can narrow down our focus.
I take all of that information and sit with it over the course of few days sorting it into different categories and writing up a report for the team. Within the report I share a few recommendations for the parish to focus on in the coming three years to hopefully transform their parish.
The third item is helping the team work through those recommendations and determine a plan for the future. To foster more discussion, I’ve been implementing a few things from this book I’ve been reading: Sprint by Jake Knapp. This involves post-its (big and small as you can see in the above photo), pens, and a lot of brainstorming.
The best ideas come from the leadership team, members of the parish, and outside sources. What are those outside sources? Other churches in how they are engaging their parishioners, companies we all know and love about how they are communicating their message, and other people we know and read about online. If we want to do something different in your parish then we need to think outside the box and do something different to engage your parishioners.
If we continue to do the same thing over and over again, then we will get the same results. I think that’s the basic gist of the Scientific Method. If we want to do something new, then we have to employ new techniques. It’s not about changing the message of the Gospel, it’s about delivering it differently. So think outside of your comfort zone, brainstorm some new ideas, and do something different. The risk is big, but so are the rewards!!