Kiosk Response Part 1
Let me start out my reflection this week with a question. What are the details of the parish finances? Several weeks ago, I provided a general overview of the status of the parish finances. I wanted to follow up on that with a fuller picture. Over the past few years, on a quarterly basis, we have offered a summarized version of our parish finances with details. Those are available in paper form in the back of the church lobby this weekend.
What makes a dynamic parish? That is a question that I and a number of St. Monica parishioners have embraced and engaged with over the past five years. By now you probably have figured out that I am not interested in a mediocre parish. Two years ago I met with about 20 parishioners to try and discern what Jesus Christ wanted from the Parish of St. Monica. We entertained two very probing questions: “If the parish belongs to “the boss,” then what does Jesus Christ want St. Monica to look like in five years?” and “If we closed tomorrow – besides parishioners – would anybody miss us?”
Then we went around the room and I asked each person to answer two other questions: “Why did you come here tonight?” and “If St. Monica could do anything – and knew it would not fail – what would you like to see happen at the parish?” My answer: I want a parish that they write books about.” The parishioner sitting next to me grabbed me, gave me a huge hug and said “I LOVE people with big, audacious goals.”
My charism is visioning and organizing a plan for implementation. Part of the implementation is a “mission” and a “vision.” What’s the “mission?” It’s the same as every parish: bring people to a closer relationship to Jesus Christ. Where did we get it: From Jesus Christ himself. To quote the boss: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20). So, we go about disciple-making. Slow, hard, arduous work. Long-term, multi-year work. One-person-at-a-time, every parishioner (no exceptions) doing their part, work.
But how do we do that specifically? That is where the “vision” comes in. We asked him. I asked him. We prayed and discussed this for 16 months. What we sensed was Jesus Christ saying that the implementation of the mission – i.e. the “vision” was to “Encounter Him in three ways: Through His Word, Through the Liturgy, Through Reaching Out and Helping Others.”
In looking at vibrant parishes across the country, we see common denominators. PRAYER FIRST – always. Scripture. Service to others. Music – Message – Ministry in the liturgy (or hymnody, homilies and hospitality). How do we know we’re getting it right? I’ve been asking you. The kiosk is not just some marketing gimmick. But – and this is important – it does not provide solutions or answers. It is merely a tool to start the conversation with you.
There have been concerns, criticisms, and questions about the kiosk from parishioners and priests. Let me give two examples.
I believe my issues with the kiosk are (and this is just my impressions) aside from me feeling that it is very gimmicky, or hokey-looking, it feeds into today’s consumerism mentality and is not the best source for information we are seeking. Bottom line is…I feel it does not belong in church. I think if Jesus came in and overturned the Money Changer’s tables… he would overturn the Data Miner’s kiosks as well. When I think of the lessons we learn in the Bible, this one seems to fall in-line with that.
Many are tired of being the subject of another analytic campaign. We are subjects to that every time we turn on our computers, and under video surveillance wherever we go. I LOVE that church removes me from the day- to-day. The music should be different, and I love the quietness away from my noisy world. It is a place like no other, it should be special. Jesus didn’t care what people thought of his mighty works. “Who do people say that I am?” He was showing the way and he was only concerned that people knew him to be the Son of God – right?!
A lot is happening at Saint Monica for sure. When I initially saw the kiosk, I was taken back by the “faces” to be pressed. I understand a need for critical thinking on Homilies, Music, welcoming etc. but where does one go with numbers be they positive or negative?
This seems is a little like Dancing with the Stars. Monumental and important stuff is being asked about and considered for sure, but I didn’t care for the buttons. Are there alternatives to gathering such information? Weekly liturgy meetings? More intimate homily planning/faith sharing groups?….etc.
These are important insights and point to good questions. Next week allow me to offer some thoughts.