A Culture of Change
“Everyone wants change, but no one wants to change.”
I popped this quote into Google this week to find out where/who it comes from and while there were multiple claims to ownership, it seems that it’s just one of those pithy, but perhaps uncomfortable sayings that follows us around. Resistance to change is something for which we are all programmed. We are all wired for certainty in our lives; this manifests in different ways through our need for safety, security, comfort and, perhaps above all, familiarity. I experience this most often when I’ve gone on holiday for two weeks or more. Going away is always life-giving, but I always look forward to coming home and getting back into a routine that offers what I desire even more than variety: certainty.
Our need for certainty is mirrored in the birth of Israel as the People of God. The story of Israel began with God parting the Red Sea and saving Moses and the people from their slavery to Pharaoh, King of Egypt. Our first reading this weekend from Exodus tells the story of the people complaining of thirst to Moses and questioning why they were led from safety, security, comfort and familiarity of their captivity in Egypt. In the midst of their dis-comfort, all they can think of is satisfying their basic human needs with a return to slavery.
In a similar way, we – in our parish – are in the midst of breaking free from slavery; slavery to ways living out our faith that, while they may have served us in years gone by, no longer serve us in the here and now. I’m talking primarily about a church culture which says that it’s enough to just come to Mass on Sundays. This is the culture many of us grew up in, but while it may have been enough in the age of Christendom – an age which ceased to exist in the late 20th century – it is no longer fit for purpose. What do I mean by this?
Today, more than ever, we cannot rely on what once was: a culture in which people came to Mass because that was what Catholics did on Sundays. In today’s culture, where it is necessary for practicing Catholics to go out; it’s us who must change. However, it is necessary first that we experience both the love of God, which has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and the resulting personal relationship with Jesus.
Growing up, I can remember my parents talking about having a strong faith and believing in God, but not once did they talk about their relationship with Jesus; they didn’t have that kind of experience.
Today, our capacity to change and be empowered to share our faith with others depends in large part on our thirst for what Jesus freely offers: a life-giving relationship. When things start to change around the parish following the publication of our strategic plan at the end of May, you will be tempted, like the Israelites, to express your desire to return to how things were. I invite you to resist this temptation.
My commitment to you is that any changes will not be made through unilateral decision-making – instead, they will be clearly and transparently communicated through three different leadership layers. In this parish we have a Senior Leadership Team, whose role it is to assist me in making high-level decisions; we have six Ministry Teams, whose role it is to lead and make decisions within the purview of their particular ministry; and we will have community leaders in each of our worshiping communities whose job will be to lead the implementation of different strategies of change. These three layers of leadership are designed to help us in our
Mission: to become vibrant communities that actively accompany people to encounter Jesus. These layers of leadership will also assist you with a hierarchy of communication to answer your questions and queries about how you can be involved in different ways.
May God bless us as we actively pursue necessary changes in order to become missionary disciples who make disciples (MT 28:19).