My schedule has been full, but I am having so much fun meeting and talking with folks and learning about the culture of each parish. As someone who has been studying and practicing Church leadership and renewal, I’m finding all of this fascinating and encouraging. Overall, in general, I can honestly say these are good parishes. I know this because a parish is only as good as its people. And we have good people. That, I’m sure of.
So, what else have I been discovering through my meetings?
- We have wonderful, talented, and faithful staff. They’re good team players and want to work as a team.
- Both parish and finance councils have loyal members who long to see their parishes come to life.
- Endowments are keeping both parishes solvent.
- Both parishes are really proud of their schools.
- The Ladies Guilds and Men’s Clubs are active and do a lot for both parishes.
- Both parishes love their pasts but are concerned about their futures.
This last one is understandable. I hate to stray from the path of positivity, but we are also going to have to define reality together.
The graphic shown here is a life cycle of a church. In the past, all we had to do as Catholics was establish a parish in a growing neighborhood and we would experience tremendous growth without being too strategic. Families would flock. Nowadays, even the parishes in the growing neighborhoods need to be strategic in order to keep out of the Maintenance or Preservation phase. It’s likely, based on our objective numbers, and without blaming anyone, both of our parishes are at some stage of Preservation or Life Support. Objectively, we know that our parishes are in decline in membership, sacraments, attendance, and engagement. When a church is on the downward slope of things, there are only things left to do. Die or be reborn. I’m pro-life. Hope you are too!