At a recent meeting, one of our parishioners made a comment that started me thinking (which in itself made the evening worthwhile!). The comment was about the range of people who identify themselves as members of the parish and, at least as I heard it, how those who come to us for the reasons people come to any parish might not be getting full consideration.
Interestingly enough, while I have been thinking about how we might deal with that, I have also found myself this week being more engaged with those who might fit the definition of usual parishioner, coming with questions of faith, seeking understanding and clarification about what is and is not sin, wanting healing for past hurts and wondering how we live out our faith here.
I did a little research to get some deeper understanding of what people want from their Church, and found responses such as the following:
• “theological compatibility, openness, community, challenging teachings, congregational liveliness, creativity, and fresh, contemporary worship music.”
• “A community that is open to being transformed by God's love and open to being honest with each other throughout that process.”
• “a place that values what they bring to the table in such a way that it's natural to get involved because their gifts/talents are both needed AND desired as part of the body of Christ.”
• “As a convert to the Catholic Church, the main thing I was looking for was an encounter with Jesus Himself, which I found in the scriptures and in the sacraments, most especially the
Eucharist. I wanted the truth about what the early Christians did, believed, how they behaved. I feel like it was incredibly counter cultural then, and authentic Catholicism still remains incredibly counter-cultural.”
• “Basically, the Catholic Church offered me the faith of history, the faith of the early Christians, I feel the faith of the Scriptures, all in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
• “So to sum it up: what draws me to the Church? Jesus, the relentless insistence of the truth of the Word, the Sacraments (especially the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist), the liturgy, the ancient way of doing things, the timelessness of it all, and again, truth.”
• “If there are three words to sum up my statements, here they are: relationship, practicality and accessibility.”
How about you? What do you need and want from your parish? The parish staff is here for you, and we need to always be sure that we are responding to what matters to you the most. If there is something you would like to share about that, let me know through a note, email, in person or though my blog. Then together, we can work at figuring out how to respond for you and for the parish as a whole. This is one of the two main reasons we are continuing the planning process. The two reasons are:
1. To develop a clear understanding of who we are as a parish community, so that everyone involved with the parish in any way experiences that we are a unified community with a specific mission related to the overall mission of the Body of Christ.
2. To identify and enact strategies which ensure our developing the resources of time, talent and treasure necessary for now and for the future.