2018 brings new hopes, dreams and challenges. But in the face of limited resources, seemingly impossible odds, or simply old habit – are you already tempted to dampen your expectations of what this year could bring?
Thank God, no parish staff, parish, or diocese walks alone. Across the world, women and men are applying their God-given creativity, skills, and life experience to enriching the resources of the Church and working towards revival now. Through faith, we know that apparent obstacles are opportunities to lean into the power of the Holy Spirit. They are our chance to ask for renewal, to dare to be lead, and to act in faith. Where does your parish need to be renewed?
Below you will find proven resources for parish revitalization focusing on discipleship, formation, marketing and evangelization.
Conversion and Discipleship
Alpha: I have witnessed closely the transformation of a parish utilizing Alpha to evangelize first their parishioners and increasingly, the community around them. Alpha is an introductory ten-week program suitable for people at all stages of spiritual seeking or of their faith journey. It focuses on answering the primary questions of Christianity by bringing people together to share a meal, listen to a talk, and join in discussion.
The Amazing Parish: Co-founders Pat Lencioni and John Martin feel called to “uplift, improve and help parishes turn from maintenance to missionary communities.” Many parishes have acclaimed their model, conferences, and copious free resources, and have credited them with breathing new life into their parishes.
Teaching and Formation
Catholics Come Home: This non-profit Catholic apostolate offers a wealth of resources for non-practicing Catholics and Catholics who are looking for more information on Catholic teachings, traditions, and worship.
The Mass: An Introduction: A four-part video series presented by the Archdiocese of Mobile, this series begins to delve into the rich history and meaning of the Mass for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Parent Resources: Saint Jane Frances de Chantel Parish has put together a library of resources for not only parents, but also all Catholics who are looking for more information and inspiration for their faith journey.
Creative Resources and Marketing
A culture permeated by technology and media; there is a high likelihood that not only practicing Catholics and parishioners, but also former Catholics and spiritual seekers, will first encounter your parish on a media platform. Your online presence can be the first place to reach hearts and communicate through beauty. Beauty also extends to clean, uncluttered design, compelling media usage and stunning visuals.
CAST: A “Catholic media organization that seeks to evangelize through learning, beauty and witness on digital platforms.”
eCatholic Website Design: Beautiful, simple, mobile-responsive web design.
Likable Art: A design studio committed to using beauty in service of Truth.
Sherwood Fellows Creative Agency: Specializing in strategy, branding and video, this creative agency as been acclaimed by Catholic organizations, parishes, and Christian churches who have experienced the impact of digital/visual storytelling.
4PM Media: Storytelling through video with an understanding and sensitivity to Catholic messaging and audiences.
Catholicism: The New Evangelization: Following up on the lessons offered in Bishop Barron’s Catholicism series, Catholicism: The New Evangelization challenges participants to bring the saving message of the GOOD News to the world.
ChristLife: “Our ministry partners with parishes, priests, religious and lay leaders who are seeking to answer the Church’s call to a new evangelization through a proven method of parish evangelization and outreach.”
Paulist Evangelization Ministries: “Reaching the unreached in faith” is the mission of this ministry. The apostolate focuses on equipping Catholics to invite inactive Catholics, seekers, Catholics who lack deeper spiritual commitment, and the imprisoned, into the full life of relationship with Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church.
Taking the Next Step
After prayerfully discerning where your parish is most in need of renewal, consider defining and focusing on one goal at a time. For example, your media resources are greatly in need of updating and you are also experiencing flagging attendance at mass. Choose which of these areas of growth you will work on first, and agree to put the second objective on the backburner. God has a time and a plan for everything, seek to follow His timing.
Plan to invest serious time and energy into making your determined goal a success. I know a parish that suspended all non-essential ministries and heavily promoted Alpha in order to communicate the importance of this parish-wide initiative and to provide everyone with the greatest opportunity to participate. No surprise, the parish saw tremendous participation. Several years later they are still offering Alpha sessions for newcomers while also delving deeper into their parish identity as missionary disciples.
God has a 2018 plan for your parish, and it’s a good plan. Happy New Year!
 A few excellent books we would also highly recommend are:
Divine Renovation by James Mallon
Everyone Leads by Chris Lowney
Great Catholic Parishes by William E. Simon, Jr.