I met with a parish council today to talk about our Parish Vision Plan solution, and I couldn’t help but think they’re so much like most of the parishes I work with. The answer to what they were asking, and what so many ask, is simply: Time, Action, and Relationships.
They wanted to know if I’d worked with a parish with their unique circumstance before. Could I give them any insight to how best reach this unique group of people?
They asked if our survey had an impact on getting more than the standard 10% of parishioners who are already involved to become involved.
They shared that 80% or more of confirmed students are not coming back to Mass. What can we do to bring their families to Mass?
They ended by talking about something the diocese can offer or some program they’d heard of somewhere else. As we were getting to the end of our time together I pulled out an old Chinese proverb I heard years ago.
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.”
They wanted to know if the solution we were talking about was the solution that they needed to solve all of their problems. I wanted to say yes – but I couldn’t. And that’s not because I think we are offering something bad – it’s just that it’s only a catalyst.
There’s no magic bullet or secret sauce to parish renewal and transformation – no easy button. Do I think our solution is helpful? Yes. Do I believe it can be a starting point for moving forward? Absolutely. Is it going to magically fix everything? No.
What might fix things? Time. Action. Relationships.
Time to change the culture – transformation and conversion of heart takes time. We didn’t get to where we are overnight, so we won’t get to where we’re going overnight either. It takes time, and it takes us realizing that it will take time, so we can work through the frustration that long solutions ultimately have.
Action! We need to do something now. I left that call saying, “No matter whether you go with us or the diocese or another thing – do something today. You were talking about this 6 months ago, and you’re still talking about it today. If you do nothing, you’ll be having the same conversation 6 months from now.” Today is the time to take action!
Relationships are the key to transformation, conversion, and evangelization. Build relationships with people. Walk with them through their suffering, their doubts, their disappointments, their apathy, their confusion, their life.
Build Relationships with people over time and begin by taking action today. If our solution helps you do that, awesome. Let’s get started. If that means you have a neighborhood campfire this Friday and every Friday for the rest of the summer – let me know if I can bring the marshmallows.