We’re all looking for the silver bullet, the magic formula, the secret sauce that is going to take our church to the next level in terms of health and growth, discipleship and evangelization. Of course, there is no substitute for hard work and sustained effort, and you need a healthy team of leaders to make it really happen in an authentic way. But consider placing these on your must do list too.
Don’t be afraid to try new music, launch a new ministry, change your Mass schedule. Even if something doesn’t go as well as you hoped, God honors your efforts. Parishioners need to see leaders who are not afraid to fail. But there is a way to limit failures. As a church leader you should be praying daily over its direction. Specific, directed prayer is best, and will bring specific, direct answers. When you get them obey them.
You cannot grow a healthy parish and control everything. You cannot lead a successful church community and micro-manage all the details too. You’ve got to let go. And as your parish grows this becomes even more important. You should develop a leadership team of staff and volunteer ministers whom you can trust and then…trust them. If they’re the right kind of people to begin with, trusting them will actually make them even more trustworthy. Be a leader and a mentor not a taskmaster.
The only way for any ministry development plan to be successful is commitment and consistent follow through when it comes to what we’re trying to do. Follow through is needed on new ideas that become just ordinary ideas. We need to stay in the game even when the game is not currently exciting or even interesting. As with all things in life, don’t let the ordinary time diminish your enthusiasm, or small set backs discourage you. It takes immense courage to step out and remain in obedience in season and out. In our own parish we had a very exciting year last year, as we launched a capital campaign and unveiled plans for a new building. In the time ahead we will enjoy another exciting period of life and growth as we undertake our building project. In between times there is only a lot of behind the scenes planning and money raising…nothing very exciting. But it is a time to remain faithful and follow through if we ever want to get to the next level.
Growing a healthy church takes long seasons when it might seem like nothing is happening, but in fact there is a lot of obedience, trust, and follow-through going on.