How to Succeed at Parish Ministry

One area the Church need’s a little work in, at least at the local levels, is leadership. We often find overwhelmed and under-performing staffs who are just as equally unprepared for the task at hand. For those of us who have or currently hold positions of leadership in the secular world we have a keen understanding of what that entails. When we see a lack of leadership in our parishes it is obvious and painful. Father Dave Heney has a book that is invaluable to solving that problem and it uses scripture to point the way. Luke 10 Leadership: How to Succeed at Parish Ministry is a must-read for both clergy and laity who find themselves in positions of authority in their parishes.

In the book Father Dave has created a four-step approach on how to be successful at parish ministry. Before we get too deep into the review I think it must be pointed out that the issues are not strictly with the priests assigned to your parishes. True, they are the head of the parish, but their support team is just as responsible for the direction and perception that each parish has. Now that we have clarified that….let’s move on!

So why Luke 10? What is so special about this Chapter in Luke and how does it apply to leadership and us today? Simply put, Luke 10 is the PERFECT model for leadership success. After all, it’s an entire chapter on the Lord’s plan for his disciples to go out and evangelize the world. What better blueprint to use than that? A plan of action that culminated with Christianity spreading to all four corners of the world.

The four steps are actually quite simple. Here’s a brief overview of each:

First Say Peace – This first step is all about interaction and how we deal with those around us. This includes those we serve and the team members we serve with.

Eat What is Before You – Simply put…..discover your culture. When it come’s to parishes each parish family is different. Programs that may work in one parish may not work in another. Sit back, observe, take notes, then act.

Cure the Sick – This could mean the ill but here it refers to addressing the underlying issues in your parish that are making it “sick”. We all have problems and parishes are no different. Bear in mind however that some humility is required here as well. Look inward and address your own shortcomings first.

Announce the Kingdom – After the first three steps have been addressed then it’s time to dive in and take on the mission of evangelization. Utilize the plentiful tools and programs that are so readily available to you today. You’ll surely find some options that fit your particular parish.

This book was fantastic and I dare say it can even apply beyond the parish. It’s fresh take on leadership as based upon the model of Christ laid out in Luke 10 is sorely needed today. Are you a leader in your parish or community? Pick up this book and make Luke 10 Leadership a part of your daily routine.

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