Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More on "Energizing Vibrancy"

Yesterday we mentioned Terry's comments on an Archdiocesan "planning" thing...

Terry's mention went national, and Welborn picked it up.

A couple of incisive comments regarding the Elmbrook/Willow Creek phenomenon:

The answer is not to attempt to simplistically and slavishly imitate the apparent success of these rapidly growing church plants, as tempting as it might be, since they are, indeed, growing, and so much of their growth comes from now-unchurched Catholics.

... don’t think the growth is going to bear lasting fruit, and reading in some of their own literature, you are starting to hear worrisome noises about this, too - concerns about lasting church committment or lifestyle change, concerns about young people, and so on. It’s definitely there. These rapidly-growing places are very “contemporary” in their feel (whatever that means - one person’s contemporary is another person’s “er…lame”), so where does that leave those who grow out of the desire to have worship that’s centered on that type of music and pop culture themes? They seem to be extraordinarly centered on the personalities of the leaders.

And harking back to a practice which is now, simply, NOT practiced:

Remember what parish boundaries are all about. They are not so much about where you have the responsibility to go to Mass. They are essentially about for whom the pastor (and others) have responsibility. That’s right. The pastor’s responsibility is to share Christ with the parish - which is not just the people who show up on Sundays - it’s every person who lives in those boundaries, Catholic or not. Yeah.

Not that long ago, the Pastor of a parish would personally conduct a census--by driving to a neighborhood and going door-to-door. They could either be seeing Catholic families, or "by accident," show up at a Lut'ran door.

Of course, there's "no time for that" these days, right?

...have planning meetings, chatting about vibrancy and diocesan wide-efforts to make everyone more aware of their Catholic identity actually borne much fruit? Or just more mission statements and information packets collecting dust in a bottom drawer?

Because, see, that’s not the Catholic way, either - the way of evaluating the health and future of the Church via schematics and diagrams and planning packets either. The Catholic way is to imitate the saints, it seems to me. To preach, to teach, to gather the lost, to heal the sick, to be with the poor - to plunge into it.

Terry's trenchant request for "failure analysis" echoes in the above...

Is it the Age of Madison Avenue?

Which happens, I usually find, because people are relying on New Things and New Ideas and Exciting Paradigms instead of thinking - just a little bit - about what tradition has to teach us.

Ummmnnnnhhhhh....the Liturgeists' Revenge has roosted, folks.

In point of fact, it's exactly the Liturgeist's Revenge. A local parish organized a meeting with unhappy members (many of which were "Elmbrooking" part of the time) and got exactly what anyone would expect: install "greeters" at the front door, go "big" with Liturgical Production Values, and above all, Make It "Relevant," (whatever in Hell that may be.)

The Church's teachings are relevant--and they are vitally so.

Of course, pastors have to actually TEACH those teachings once in a while, too.


Billiam said...

When I started going to the Church I go to here in GB, members of the Church used to drop of notes, or cookies or the banana bread one lady left witrh a nice note. Then, I was asked to greet and usher. Next thing, a men's accountability group. There is a lot of this sort of thing at my Church, lead by either the senior Pastor or his assistant. I never saw anything like this from the Catholic Church in my life.

Faithful Catholic said...

I think one of the reasons for such strong church commitment in the past with the mega-churches is that the people there actually built the church. When your money and sweat erected or purchased the building, it means a lot more to you.

Perhaps we are beginning to see a trend with the Elmbrooks that has been a Catholic problem for a while, a lack of ownership on behalf of the people. And this "Vibrancy" plan does not address that issue.

Terrence Berres said...

There's been plenty of building in Catholic parishes, too, but often on the theory that if "vibrant" communities are putting up buildings, putting up a building will make a community "vibrant".

Dad29 said...

Billiam--the RC parishes all used to have very active societies--usually one for the men, one for the women, and a couple of 'mixed' groups--all heavily promoted by the Pastor. Various reasons for the existence of the societies, (school athletics, charity, etc.) beyond the ushers, choir members, and so forth.

Now pastors don't promote those organizations, or do so with a "note" in the Bulletin. They don't make a point of getting children into the parish school (matter of fact, Abp Weakland made that a VERY difficult thing to do.)

Ah, well. At some point, that will turn around.

Anonymous said...

What are your feelings of public sector vs private sector unions?

In Oshkosh, our city workers insist of having property taxpayers fund 95% of their healthcare costs, and on top of that, provide them with a 3% wage increase.

Most of us average blue collar workers are lucky to have our employers fund 80% of our healthcare costs. Many of my friends have little or no healthcare coverage, but as a property taxpayer, they have to pay for 95% of the city workers healthcare coverage.


Dad29 said...

Yes, anony, I have a comment.

You're on the wrong post. Stay with the topic, please.

Billiam said...

I remember 3 non-church interactions with priests from my youth. 4th grade, Father John, just back from a mission trip to Central America, asked me to help him remodel two lower school rooms. For a kid with no Dad, that was pretty special. Freshman year, Father Mason, later removed for molesting male students, was poking me in the chest and yelling at me. I told him I'd knock him on his butt(not the word I used) if he did it again. I was suspended for 3 days. Then, Father Bob. junior and senior year. Pardon the term, but he was a hell of a guy. Real cool to us. After that, not much from the church. Then the hypocrisy started getting worse, then the politics. I went Casper, never to return.

GOR said...

There is a definite 'corporate feel' about all of this: strategy meetings, mission statements, Powerpoint presentations, stats, being 'proactive' etc. etc. etc.

In the corporate world there were always those who felt they were only 'fulfilled' when they were having lots of meetings. Then there were those who actually worked...

We need more people, clerical and lay, who actually work and pray for their salvation and that of others.