Disciple Maker Index Conclusions and Insights
Some weeks ago, I had the privilege of celebrating the Jubilee Mass. It was in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of my Ordination. The day was a tremendous celebration (except for a few unusual occurrences such as smoke alarms, police and fire trucks, and a touch of rain as dinner began outside). I want to especially thank the people who offered to put together the logistics for the Mass and the celebration that followed. People came together to offer my family, friends, parishioners and me a very memorable event. Credit goes to Vince Gutierrez and The Holy Name Society, Peg Alzamora, Maureen Mulhall, Liz Tenaglio and the Merry Widows, the Parish Staff and our musicians. Many people were very gracious and generous with best wishes and gifts as well. I am humbled and most grateful.
Over the past three weeks, we have been examining results for St. Monica from the 2017 and 2019 “Disciple Maker Index” (DMI). Where do we go from here? The first step is prayer. I already have an intentional prayer team who prays for my personal intentions each month. The DMI discernment process will remain on their prayer list for the coming months. I am considering a second group of people as well. They would pray intentionally for deeper wisdom and insights about where the Holy Spirit is leading St. Monica Parish during this discernment process.
Over the past three weeks, we provided a series of articles to introduce the raw data. We also offered insights into what you told us through the survey. Conversations about the results are already occurring. I have been a party to a number of positive, interesting and insightful conversations about what was written. This needs to continue. I encourage you to have these conversations among parishioners, non-parishioners, family, and friends.
We are planning a series of “focus groups.” They would test the survey results in light of our current emphasis on “Encountering Christ Through His Word, Liturgy, and Service to Others.“ Is this direction where the Lord is leading us? Do we need to make adjustments? Are there items that need to be further emphasized and supported? Do some items need to be jettisoned? Once we establish a “vision” direction, what are concrete action items that we wish to carry out?
I shall continue to keep you apprised on what we find. I ask that you continue to pray for the Lord to speak to us about what he wants from “His parish.”
Questions and Messages We are Hearing: Why is this process important? The DMI helps us to determine whether “we are doing the right things” and whether “we are doing things right.” It was able to measure the impact in areas where St. Monica had made changes. In fact, the DMI is sensitive enough to detect effects over a short period of time – only two years. We saw rapid positive and negative effects in areas where the parish made specific changes. This surprised the “Analysis Team.” They didn’t expect this level of statistical sensitivity. They were also surprised at the significance of the effects related to parish focus and investments.
Initial Conclusions: Focus on transformative change. Emphasis on new approaches to small groups and in Religious Education resulted in significant growth. The “Same Old – Same Old” does not lead to spiritual growth or stronger disciples.
The most encouraging results were in areas where people personally and intentionally accepted responsibility for their own spiritual growth and faith life. What were some examples? Personal prayer and personal relationship with Jesus were two. St. Monica’s best results vs. the archdiocese were likewise individualistic. Examples included the frequency of individual devotions, individual prayer, adoration, and faith-sharing groups.
Surprisingly, St. Monica’s poorest results vs. the Archdiocese were in the areas of Belief. (e.g. “Belief in the Authority of the Church” and ”Belief in Jesus’ Moral Teachings as Guiding My Life”)
Initial Recommendations: Continue with current “Encountering Christ…” Where it is possible, add initiatives that address DMI deficiencies that relate to Word, Liturgy, and Outreach.
Growth via Music – Hire and support new Director of Music and Liturgy. Use hymnody as an area of transformative change.
Growth via Mass – Add new liturgical initiatives.
Formation – Examine areas where DMI results concerning “Spiritual and Religious Belief” was low. Add focused initiatives to impact these in a positive way.
Continue strengthening Hospitality. Use our successful experience with Religious Education to develop transformative changes in this area.
Add more Alpha courses. Possibly focus on new and specific audiences such as youth/young adults, moms/dads, people who cannot attend on Sunday.
Further support building community through small groups.