On the way to World Youth Day 2002, our bus got lost. We were in contact with an “escort car” with two priests who said that they knew where they were going. A priest friend of mine on the bus with me quipped to our clerical colleagues. “Well guys, if you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will get you there.” I have been writing about the future of our parish. To know where we’re going, it’s good to look at where we’ve been.
We have looked at how St. Monica has tried to “Encounter Christ Through the Word, Through Liturgy and Through Serving Others.” We examined the temporal aspects of the parish. In light of these essays, a few parishioners have talked to me about the big picture. They have asked, “Where are you getting this stuff? What are you reading? What is behind the plans and activities?”
The concept of leadership is a hot topic today. Unfortunately, is it a new topic in Catholic-land. In recent years, the environment around the Church has changed. It has changed radically. It has changed quickly. Catholic parishes, organizations, pastors and other Catholic Leaders need new resources to address these changes. Successful and prominent Catholic leaders have been developing those resources. They bring experience in the areas of business, consulting, education, finance, and philanthropy.
The National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management is one such organization. I encountered the NLRCM during my previous assignment while I was Director of the Penn Newman Center. The NLRCM is comprised of laity, religious, and clergy. They work to promote excellence and best practices in management, finances, and human resource development. They’re very successful. Recently the Leadership Roundtable announced the receipt of a $750,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment. The endeavor is entitled the “National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.” This initiative will support a variety of religious organizations across the nation. The hope is to address the financial and economic struggles that impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively.
Another organization is “The Amazing Parish.” Amazing Parish was founded by two Catholics: Pat Lencioni and John Martin. They met in 2013 and realized that they shared a desire to serve and build up the Church. They prayed, discerned and held lengthy discussions with Catholic leaders. They agreed that the Holy Spirit was prompting them to do something. They wanted to uplift, improve and help turn parishes “from maintenance to missionary” communities. John’s experience was in business. Pat’s expertise is organizational health and leadership. Together they worked with other Catholic leaders to develop and host the first Amazing Parish Conference. This was held in Denver in August 2014. The response to the conference was overwhelming. It confirmed that The Amazing Parish model was effective. It proved that parish leaders were hungry to learn.
Since then, Amazing Parish has held many conferences. They strive to improve parish support. This includes a website with free resources, free webinars, and coaching/consulting services. Countless parishes have been transformed through their involvement with The Amazing Parish movement. Incidentally, several parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have attended these conferences.
One of the most important ideas that Amazing Parish has emphasized is the idea of a “Leadership Team.” There are many important councils and committees at a parish. The role of the Parish Leadership Team (PLT) is a very unique one. It’s crucial for parishioners to understand the role that a PLT plays in the parish. It is also important for parishioners to understand the role that they play as PLT members. One of the greatest challenges pastors face is selecting the right team of people to support them and share the responsibility for running their parish. But first, how do I, as a priest and pastor lead myself? Let’s look at that next week.