If you were to ask me to pin point the exact moment in time when we changed course as a parish community and started deliberately moving in a more successful direction, I could tell you without hesitation. One day, several frustrating years into working here, Tom Corcoran, then our Youth Minister, walked into my office unannounced and casually tossed a book on my desk: “You should read that,” he suggested.
The book, titled Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, was written by an Evangelical Youth Pastor, and I had no intention of reading any such thing. In fact, I rather resented the proposal. After all, what did I have to learn from a Protestant youth minister, from another part of the country?
In this particular case grace prevailed over nature, and, in spite of my pride, I eventually picked up the book and read it. Though I actually didn’t understand it. It was that lack of understanding that led me to learn more about what some of the largest, fastest growing churches in the country were doing. And that, then and there, was the exact, precise, psychological moment when our parish started to change direction.
How about your parish, or your approach to ministry in your parish: is it simply business as usual, with everyone doing what they’ve always done, defending their own turf, or are you learning and growing as you go?
In speaking to and meeting with parish leaders across the country, and also beyond, I am constantly amazed that the location or culture notwithstanding, and not discounting other distinctions that could certainly be made, the people I talk to fall into one of two categories. There are the ones who have come to listen to me because they want to learn and grow beyond their comfort zone and there are those who do not. In fact, they only show up at my presentations to let me know how wrong I am about evangelization, discipleship, babies at Mass, money, music, whatever. They say what they came to say, and listen not at all to me.
Anyway, that day when Tom came into my office set us out on a different course and we’ve never looked back. We want to be parish leaders who are humbly learning and growing as we go. And we want to help others to do that too. That’s why, for the second year we are hosting MATTER 14, a one of a kind Church conference for parish leaders. It includes keynote presentations that will amaze and engage you and breakout sessions on everything you do in parish life, from maintain buildings, to raise givers, to disciple kids. There will be lots of fun, with vibrant, worshipful music too. The experience is part retreat, part workshop, part pep-rally for the work you do in your parish.
All of which brings me to my pitch. This is the very last week to sign up for MATTER 14, and there are only a few places left, we will sell out, so sign up today: matterconference.tv.
Come and learn and grow with us.