Thriving parishes have a couple of things in common; a clear vision of what they are on about and where they want to be; and good leadership.
There is much benefit in a clearly stated vision. When we have a clear vision in mind, we move forward confidently, not hesitatingly or just around in circles. There is also a level of confidence from those not immediately involved. They can see that there is a goal towards which the parish is journeying, and when the various activities in the parish support this vision. More members are also likely to contribute towards a goal by using their unique gifts if they know what that goal is, and at least agree with it in principle.
When there is no clear common goal, much energy is often wasted because members do their own thing, often with similar or overlapping activities but with very different or even contradictory goals. Those who have given of their time, talent and treasure could feel unsupported and soon become discouraged. Others don’t even contribute because they do not know what they are being asked to contribute towards.
A good leader/leadership team is able to articulate that vision for the larger group and motivate members to use their individual gifts in the realising of that vision together. We are not asked to pursue new visions – Christ has already set the wider vision of furthering the kingdom of God. The question is “How do we do this in our own parishes?”
This is where the Parish Mission Statement comes in. A well thought out and well written Mission Statement helps ground parishioners in what the community as a whole stands for. It also makes the job of planning and prioritising our efforts and ministries much easier.
In essence, the Parish Mission Statement needs to succinctly
indicate the unique identity of the parish
state the values and beliefs of the parish
identify what the parish is committed to
addresses the goal in which the parish seeks to move towards.
Needless to say, the Parish Vision and its Mission Statement is not established in isolation, but in consultation with parishioners. Ownership comes with involvement, and when the community is involved in the process of developing the there is a deeper understanding of the Statement itself and a willingness to work towards it..
Does our parish have a Mission Statement? If we do, it would be good to ask ourselves How old is it?
Do we know what it is?
Are our present strengths and needs reflected in it?
How much does it influence current parish life?