I have no gripes with doctrine or dogma of the Catholic Church but I am truly bothered with the evolution of sacraments as check points or mile markers. This idea does not apply to some people that would stumble across this writing but certainly to the many people that fill the pews and don’t fill the pews. At what point did sacraments go from being an ultimate way of being in union with Jesus to items on a check list, especially Confirmation? Did administrators and clergy place too much emphasis on process and time tables? Is the attainment of the sacraments all that pew setters have time for? How did this evolution occur? I am not quite sure but I know I don’t like it.
“Last year, I had to go through all twelve months of my bank statements and highlight anything I could write off. At firt I started the assignement sort of excited, because I thought I might save money on my taxes. As I highlighted potential business write-offs, however, I began to realize the stuff I spent money on was, in many ways, the sum of my ambitions. And those ambitions weren’t the stuff of good stories. “
I had this grand thought while on a run. Remember when Jesus was teaching the Jews about the Eucharist in the temple and some followers left and some didn’t? Read my eloquently paraphrased version below or Read the text –click here.
Jesus – Eat and live forever, don’t and die
Crowd – (in their minds) What the heck?
Jesus – (laughing in his mind) You don’t buy it do you?
Some in the crowd – Brother, we don’t buy this. See Ya!
Jesus – (quite) See ya.
Jesus – (to those that did not leave) So are you guys in or out?
Peter – Dude, we’ve hung with you this long. We’re in.
Jesus – Rock on Pete.
I do not fly often and still have not accepted the anal exam TSA gives me as I pass through security well. I find it completely annoying good people are inconvenienced due to a hand full of radicals. Enter the Catholic Church. I think very well intentioned ministers and church staff confuse Church with the airport TSA. Seriously. Think about it, we all hear stories about someone asked or mandated to comply with various policy or regulation before receiving a variety of sacraments or entry into programs. I understand why we have rules, regulations and policies. But what good ministers and even priests may confuse is that policy, rules, and regs do not give us the right to check our brains at the door. Going back to the TSA, there is no wiggle room or latitude for common sense. Workers merely follow policy created by someone else and enforce the policies, period! That same type of thinking can infect a parish and create a toxic environment that is not life giving.
It is worth mentioning that we Christians act stupid in the parking lot. Also at some social events. Here is what I mean. I have been to meetings and the normal flow of a meeting occurs, we adjourn and head to our cars. But this is where we get sloppy, in the parking lot. It has been my experience this is where everyone from other committee members to office staff to the priest get railed on. "If only Father would..._____________ things would be different." Yup it happens. But I think the worst is when we gripe about our priests. Now some occasionally need a behind chewing, but in one conversation we complain about our priests, then we turn around and complain that we don't have more of them! Is this an oxymoron?
So, the point is, let us steward our big mouths.
I love this title. I believe we need to share ideas and thoughts. But I chuckle at a dinner party or conference when a speaker is talking along and they will say something like “I apologize but I have to get on my soapbox”. Why apologize? Is your idea that weak I need to be prepped before I hear it? If an idea or thought is worth saying, say it! Say it with passion and let me decide if it is worth consideration or challenge. I may not agree with an idea but I will not hold it against a person either.
I read this quote from a blog, “Everyone deserves their own soapbox. The web has handed everyone a microphone and said, "here, speak up." But everyone doesn't deserve their own audience. That's something that's earned.”
I regret to inform readers that the church has lost some credibility, especially with younger people. I can list a variety of reasons but if we are honest, we know. We church types, me especially often get into pontificating mode. Meaning we slip into facts and figures and why other Catholics should be believe this or that way. I think this works against our mission. I know when I start facting people with stats and figures, I can see eyes glaze over. I lose them.
How do we in church earn the trust of the people we desperately want to reach? Again, it has to be iterated that love is the key. I have to care enough about my audience or my neighbor to speak to their heart. Heck, even Proctor and Gamble has this figured out.
|Loving More||Learning Less|
I gave a presentation to some really awesome people recently. My mantra when I go to speak with people is “we as church need to create places others want to attend and places people can fall in love with Jesus”. I think this concept is fairly foreign to most Catholics for a variety of reasons. Suffice it to say I am not sure most people get my idea totally. But luckily at this presentation, a person called me out and openly disagreed. Hallelujah!
So it goes. At another event about church stuff the topic again turned to why no one shows, no one wants to get involved, and a variety of related bemoaning. Per usual, a well intentioned person says "we need more catechesis". For those that do not know that $5 Catholic word, it means "oral instruction". For the US Bishop's definition, CLICK HERE.
Anyone here but me believe that philosophy won't work? Before I am flamed by readers, yes I believe in catechesis. Good book learning is very valuable indeed. But I think that part is second. I wrote an article titled Loving More Learning Less. The idea is that filling heads with facts will NOT work as well as filling hearts with love (show people we give a rip they exist). We as church need to love people enough to go on a journey with them into church. Then we can begin teaching, at their level, at their pace. Challenging of course, but loving first. If filling a person's head with facts worked, no one would smoke, there would be no obesity, and each of us would have six pack abs. But the truth is, facts reaffirm behavior, facts work less to create it.
I’m finding it almost painful how long some projects take to be completed. Tons of details, waiting for others to make decisions, approve some item, return a call email or text. It takes much inertia to keep some projects moving. That being said, I also find many cases where leadership (myself) is bogged down collecting information, considering the options, weighing pros and cons, dotting every I and dotting every T. This process is not necessarily bad provided the process does not stall the project or delay it so long that people lose interest. Unfortunately, the latter offer happens.
I have a small no, micro toy business that keeps my mind occupied. I bought a Do It Yourself website from GoDaddy.com to sell items. That was well and good but what happened was I bought it and two months later no progress. I found I spent too much time working it out and generally being distracted from building the thing! I got to the point I sat down and just did it. Remember the old Nike moniker? I sat down on a hot weekend afternoon and worked on it until it was done. The next day I tweaked a couple things and went live. Notice I did not say it was perfect or all the details were completed. No, it is not perfect but it is published and people can connect to me. I shipped!
The title of this article is a bit sanitized as I like staying employed. Which leads to me eating and I really like that. My personal blog has the fun version which in all reality is harmless but you never know...
Churches, schools, non profits and for profits are guilty of following the old mantra from Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come”. Yep its true, look at many church websites, static and boring. Or, set in at a school council meeting “We need to do the Facebook, Ed, can you make a Facebook for us?” I can hear a number of well intentioned people clamoring to be hip and with it. But in the end the point is totally missed. I shake my head at all the websites and social media pages that had the right idea but leave me thinking, “You should never have created this page”. And I am a champion of digital media!
First off, $5 to the person that emails me who this is a photo of.
I’ve read a bunch of marketing books lately largely of my own interest. But I find more and more how these principals have very practical applications in church. I’m re-reading We are All Weird by Seth Godin. I don’t want to give it all away as you should read it. The premise is that mass marketing as we all know it, is dead. Smart marketers, businesses, and churches will market to weird people. What the…?
Let’s take sports for example. Let’s assume in a room of 100 people all have an interest in sports. But in 2012 not all people like the same sport. In our room 90 like football but in 2012 only 30 like NFL , 25 like college, 10 like junior college, 50 like high school, 5 like indoor , 85 like outdoor, 8 like female teams, 8 like PAC 10, 13 like BIG 12. What this means is there is a big umbrella titled sports. Under that umbrella there are hundreds of choices one being football. Under football are hundreds more choices. A smart marketer is going to develop plans to give each segment of people more what they enjoy. And not just any people, football fans that like male college football teams that play in outdoor stadiums on AstroTurf from the BIG 12 and are alumni.
I have been on a thought tangent lately about our churches lack or total absence in helping people discover who God called them to be. Not just taking a personality test, not an afternoon workshop, but a real tangible gut wrenching process to discover what God has given us and how to use it for His greater glory. This is a long walk, a journey.
|Thank gosh its Friday..........ohhh gosh its Monday|
This may be a bit disjointed but that is my writing style today, read on. So I’ve celebrated five years as stewardship director for our diocese. Looking back I find myself observing that there is not much different now that when I came regarding the practice and proliferation of stewardship as a way of life. Grrr. But, with a ton of reading lately I have found I am not practicing what I preach. Hmmmm.
I am rereading err re-listening to a book by Seth Godin titled Small is the New Big. In the first part of the book he teaches that if a message is not being heard, if no one is paying attention to an idea concept, it is NOT the fault of the receiver. Rather, it is the fault of the person delivering the message. So if people in the pew are not paying any attention to the message of stewardship that is my fault, not others. Ouch!
Brothers and sisters, the Bishops in their pastoral letter on stewardship say "This is a culture in which destructive "isms"- materialism, relativism, hedonism, individualism, consumerism-- exercise seductive, powerful influences". With this is in mind I am reposting a blog by Seth Godin that speaks about this very topic. Click here to go to Seth's blog.
If your happiness is based on always getting a little more than you've got...then you've handed control over your happiness to the gatekeepers, built a system that doesn't scale and prevented yourself from the brave work that leads to a quantum leap.
The industrial system (and the marketing regime) adore the mindset of 'a little bit more, please', because it furthers their power. A slightly higher paycheck, a slightly more famous college, an incrementally better car--it's easy to be seduced by this safe, stepwise progress, and if marketers and bosses can make you feel dissatisfied at every step along the way, even better for them.
Their rules, their increments, and you are always on a treadmill, unhappy today, imagining that the answer lies just over the next hill...
All the data shows us that the people on that hill are just as frustrated as the people on your hill. It demonstrates that the people at that college are just as envious as the people at this college. The never ending cycle (no surprise) never ends.
An alternative is to be happy wherever you are, with whatever you've got, but always hungry for the thrill of creating art, of being missed if you're gone and most of all, doing important work.
If you have an opportunity to hear me speak on "marketing" in church, you will hear me tell you to steer clear of $5 Catholic words when speaking to parishioners. I do not intend a message or thought be dumbed down. No, I intend your message be heard. Many church goers formation stopped at confirmation and many Catholics are not showing up at all. Thus, traditional Catholic words are not heard or understood.
I found this short video to emphasize that point. It is only 2 minutes and worth viewing.
This article is shared with permission from Deb Ingino at mywiredstyle.com
There’s a Walmart somewhere in the Midwest.
And in this Walmart is very special gift.
You won’t find it on a shelf anywhere in the store. You will find it at the front door. You see, there is a greeter there who dispenses it daily. It is the gift of inspiration.
This greeter is the brother of one of our readers. He is a hard-working young man who supports his family by using his gift. We learned of him a couple of weeks ago in response to the fifth chapter in our series on leadership, "Leadership Health". This young man was in a serious accident several years ago. He suffered a debilitating brain injury. He went through grueling medical procedures and extensive therapy, but he never gave up.
The office of stewardship has been purchasing a diocesan wide registration for excellent webinars offered by OSV. This has been a successful venture with several benefits.
To continue this service, take a few moments to view the webinar schedule below. The stewardship office asks that 12 people take advantage for any session promoted.
Over Thanksgiving my wife and I ventured on Black Friday for the fun of it. Our day ended with a stop at a Barnes and Noble. Upon entering I made the comment “smell the knowledge”. Chris laughed and honestly, I have no idea what I meant. It was one of those thoughts that just came out. The point is not what I said, but what I felt entering that store. I don’t purchase many books at retail outlets, Amazon has very attractive prices on used and I have grown to love audio books. But, I love going to bookstores to walk around. The smell of coffee, rows upon rows of people that have poured their souls, thoughts and ideas into the wonderfully bound pages waiting for me to meander through to be challenged, entertained, angered and educated. Entering a book store I “feel” surrounded by wisdom and knowledge just waiting to be tapped. It is a great exercise for me.