Our Next Step Forward
Last Wednesday, I had a wonderful discussion with a trusted friend, Vanessa (who is from a different parish), about my experiences in both leading our parish and leading along side others over these past six months – yes, it’s been six months already! I was sharing about some of the pressures I’ve been experiencing (personally) around trying to keep everyone happy. Vanessa, catching me slightly off-guard, quoted the following line from Steve Jobs – the creator of Apple – back at me, “If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader, sell ice cream.”
As a Catholic parish, we’re certainly not in the business of selling ice cream, nor should our goal or even my goal be to simply make everyone happy. We are in the business of piercing hearts in order to change lives. Another way of articulating this is going out to make disciples (Mt 28:19). This commandment of Jesus is encapsulated in our Parish Mission: to be a vibrant community that actively accompanies people to encounter Jesus. Perhaps, the most challenging aspect of this journey of renewal we have undertaken will be to get used to different ways of thinking about our roles and responsibilities as members of the parish – as well as how we, ourselves, approach a personal relationship with Jesus. This vision for our parish necessitates that each one of us takes up opportunities to facilitate our core business of disciple-making.
I realise that the style or choice of language, like that which I’ve described here above, may be challenging, confronting, or even difficult to assimilate to, because of the way some of us may have been brought up in our faith. Not many of us – myself included – heard about lay-leadership, making disciples, and personal relationships with Jesus in our childhoods. I left home aged 18 years, a cradle Catholic, having absolutely zero appreciation of things like this. However, it’s from God’s love for all people that we, too, receive the obligation and vigour to be missionary disciples; it’s the Holy Spirit, whom we experience through relationship with Jesus, who empowers us in this mission.
It is precisely because the laity are entrusted by God with the role of disciple-making that lay-leadership in parish communities is necessary. My role as pastor is most certainly unsustainable without your assistance.
Our next step forward, therefore, will be identifying and investing in key areas of leadership. We already have six leadership teams in place who are developing the six key ministry areas of our strategic plan that we, as a parish, have identified: Children & Families, Youth & Young Adults, Faith & Formation, Worship, Community Life and Service & Outreach. While we will continue to invest in these leaders, we also have eleven different worshiping communities across eight different centres of worship to insert into the matrix.
Our next step forward – given the complex nature of our Coastal and Hinterland parish – is to identify and institute two people in every worshiping community for a defined term of leadership in their community (this already happens in different ways in many of our worshiping communities). Collectively, these leaders will meet periodically with myself and other key leaders to collaborate and institute key disciple-making opportunities in their communities. The beauty of this model is that it will work across each community according to the gifts and demographic of each community. For example, it is unlikely that our two retirement village Mass communities will be investing human resources in the area of Youth & Young Adults.
In a few weeks I will be calling for nominations to lead your worshiping community. Information will be provided which outlines the role and responsibilities of community leaders. It is important that your leaders are nominated by you based upon their skills, gifts and talents to lead. Please also pray about who the Holy Spirit might be calling to leadership – maybe you are being called. Pray that the Spirit may move their hearts to joyfully accept your nomination.
With every peace and blessing of God,