How do the people in your parish deal with change?

  • Maybe the pastor or someone on the parish staff is leaving.
  • Maybe the church is being renovated.
  • Maybe Mass times are changing.
  • Maybe the music director is introducing new hymns.
  • Maybe someone made a new rule or set up a different way of doing things.
  • Maybe the parish is trying to welcome new parishioners or start new ministries.
  • Maybe the parish is linking or clustering.

Changes in a parish are almost always difficult. People look to the parish for stability and security. When something changes, it forces them out of their spiritual comfort zone.

The biggest reason that people don’t like change is fear.

  • Fear of letting go of the familiar.
  • Fear of what will be lost because of the change.
  • Fear of what the future will be like.

The irony, however, is that without change life becomes stagnant and dull. Change helps us to look at life from a different perspective.

In times of change, we need to ask – not what we want – but what God wants. The fascinating thing about being open to God’s will is that it allows the Holy Spirit to lead us in directions we never would have chosen for ourselves. We meet new people, learn something new, or experience something unexpected. Change helps us to embrace – not just a new way of doing things – but a new sense of purpose and mission.

Prayer is the key that unlocks our resistance to change.

  • Prayer shifts the burden of change into God’s hands.
  • Prayer eases discomfort, erases fears, and helps us see from a different perspective.
  • Prayer opens our minds, hearts and souls to new ideas and new ways of doing things.
  • Prayer changes our lives and touches the lives of people around us.
  • Prayer gives God the opportunity to fill us with deep inner peace.
  • Prayer instills in us appreciation for the good things change brings and gratitude for the good things God continues to do for us.

One of the best prayers for people undergoing change is the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

--Reinhold Niebuhr