Planning for the New Year?  Empower your Parish!

There was a time that I thought the best way to be a great DRE was to serve the parish by doing everything that needed to be done myself. I had no time to reflect on how the programs I coordinated could change and grow in a way that would best serve the parish community—I was too busy! As time went on, some members of the parish began to think that since their parish had staff that seemed to do everything, it was their responsibility to keep the parish programs running. Alone. Parish members really didn’t need to be very involved. Not surprising. They had no sense of ownership because I had not involved them in any real way.

Lumen Gentium states that each individual part contributes through its special gifts to the good of other parts of the whole church (LG 13). We all know now that identifying those gifts and empowering parishioners to do the work of their parish is the role we need to focus on as we plan programs for the new year. Empowerment is sharing the power with others in a way that allows parishioners to be engaged in the work of the parish in a meaningful way.

I once read that really successful parish leaders let go of 20% of their job descriptions each year by calling forth the gifts of the parishioners and providing the training and support needed to allow the parish members to take a big role in their various ministries. Programs will grow by leaps and bounds as staff and parish leaders work together to create and grow new opportunities for the parish.

As you plan your programs this summer, ask yourself how you might better call forth the gifts and talents of the families you serve and empower them to serve their parish! You might even have time to think about how your programs and ministries can grow, expand and improve!

Guest blogger Brenda McLennan coordinates a family centered program for the Catholic Community of St. Odilia in Shoreview, MN, using Our Sunday Visitor’s Alive in Christ curriculum. She has developed and facilitated programs for children of all ages and is passionate about empowering parents to form their children in the Catholic Faith by using digital tools to provide them with the resources they need. She has a Master’s in Religious Education from the University of St. Thomas and has served as a consultant and speaker over the course of her career in ministry.

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