Divine Renovation: An Interview with Fr Mallon Part 4

you hi I’m Peter Herbeck I’m here again with father James Mallon the author of divine renovation bringing your parish.

you hi I’m Peter Herbeck I’m here again with father James Mallon the author of divine renovation bringing your parish from maintenance to Mission this is session four and we’re talking about transforming culture we’ve talked a little bit about it in previous sessions but we did dig deeper because it’s key well I said that leadership means leading change and the change is nothing short than the transformation of culture we often in in church renewal circles will talk about best practices best programs best tools you know I get this program that’s a better program than this program but point is that you can have the best people the best practice the best program but if you don’t address the cultural issue if you don’t have a healthy life giving culture and your parish it will kill every single initiative every other effort as Peter Drucker says a culture eats strategy for breakfast yeah it does yeah will undo everything and and what is culture again a culture is are the things we presume they’re there they’re the things we celebrate we tolerate the things that we reward and culture is composed of values it’s it’s it’s shown by by what we value and again these are real values not aspirational values again examine your behavior and have a brutally honest assessment of what your culture is I recently heard something say that you know culture is revealed by the conversations you have around the water cooler let me just tell me a quick story in the past year I went I don’t know I went to a talk to a group of chaplains and at the at the social that evening the conversation was all on rank and status and medals and promotions and uniforms and in blah blah blah during the break I mean during the sessions they were all talking about the stuff we were talking about I think of that experience then I think of being in in London for the Leadership Conference of the Holy Trinity bubs only Leadership Conference and back in the hotel that night we went to the to the pop and there was a bunch of Catholics non Catholics but pastors sitting around and we had the most incredibly exciting conversation on leadership how to win people for Gigli this is the this is where the culture was revealed around the the watercooler what what are the word of the true passions yeah that’s culture that’s the colours how do those values connect to the vision wells that relate the vision is again making missionary disciples and missionary disciples are the is the fruit that were called to bear Jesus said I call you to bear fruit fruit that will last in fact look at how demanding the Lord is in John’s Gospel you know every branch that does not bear fruit will be removed and every branch that does bear fruit will be pruned so that it may bring even more fruit you know like the Lord expects fruit right and so what is the what it’s the fruit of a missionary disciples but fruit is is comes from healthy things healthy trees bear fruit right healthy soil seeds as long as healthy children grow I mean you’re a father you did you ever sit your children down and solemnly lecture them to to grow no you kept them healthy and you fed them and they grew all by themselves and here’s the key thing the right values that shape a culture well will lead a church to health and if it’s healthy it will bear the fruit of missionary disciples the key of olive cultural transformation is health and and here’s the thing that you know people often will perhaps look at our situation and at least where I come from my parish is a relatively large one it may not be compared to some of your parishes you know some of your parish or twice or three times the size of mine but people will say well I’m in a small country parish I don’t have any other thing of one staff we don’t have the number of people sometimes the mistake is that people see these models of a healthy of a church that is becoming healthy and it’s a suburban church and they say well you’re a big suburban Church we can’t do those things but small churches can be healthy large churches can be unhealthy in fact a small Church the relative health can be obscured because it doesn’t look big and in a big church the relative lack of health can be obscured because even if 2 percent of people are involved and they show up in a Tuesday night it looks amazing but guess what it’s only 2% right Cooper sad it’s not Alfie and so the goal the goal is health and there I really believe this when I used to give talks I took some time to look at churches Catholic churches and non Catholic churches who were and a sense doing it keeping the main thing the main thing I like to call it the the photocopier model of Church because I said think that the church is like a photocopier is called – a photocopier brings paper in it processes it and it spits it out to make a difference in the world and bringing in as evangelizing processing is the siping you know printing and stapling and sending the paper out is is is sending the people out a mission when you see parishes that are actually doing this you say okay what do they have in common what’s important to these parishes not just what do they say is important what do their actions what they do and how they spend their money show that they that communicates what they value so what are the values the bells this is a list that you know looking that I kind of threw through together and and towards the back of the book there’s there’s a list of ten and then first one is is priority to the weekend and really you know a number don’t number years into parish ministry I realized that I was giving the weekend my leftovers the real work of ministry was what I did for money to Friday it was the funerals it was the the Bible studies I did and the the wonderful courses that I was creating and putting on for 10 people it was the one-on-one counseling works so important but you end up spending 30 percent of your time with 1 percent of your people and weekends we get 80 percent of her people 80 percent of the time it’s the biggest bang for the buck and I was throwing leftovers at it so this is a first key principle to say number one are we giving our best the weekend and also are we even set up our infrastructure in terms of buildings and mass times to give it the best weekend experience just to clarify something you said 80 percent of our people we see mount weekend’s now most people listening to say 80 percent of parishioners actually kind of mass at your church on weekends because the you know the national averages are 20 percent or 22 percent so that’s what you mean when I say 80 percent I mean 80 percent of our regulars okay yeah there’s people in the community who belong perhaps but just they never come yeah in terms of the people who come 80% of them are there and any good and you have them there and they’re coming because they have some hungers number 2 you put hot you said hospitality internally I see number two three and four are our follow they’re connected intimately to the weekend experience and I call them the three H’s hymns homilies and hospitality and you know something if you even get these first through four values if you actually put into action the fact that weekends are going to be a priority that your weekend experience is going to be the absolute best it can be it will begin to change things hymns music is so key st. Augusta said if you sing you pray twice and I believe that we owe it to God to ourselves to give it our best free music to about lifting music I believe that today and in the church we’ve got to embrace contemporary music but some people call praise and worship music there’s some amazing stuff being written by matt maher and others that is very fitting to the to the liturgy it’s a part of connecting with the culture I also believe it’s my own conviction and we do this at Saint Benedict parishes we also celebrate the great treasure trove of sacred music down through the ages so we have a contemporary contemporary liturgy you can actually watch on livestream we have our band and then hour later Mass we have a we have choral music and incense and sometimes can green chants so we have we have both the commonality is the quality with commitment to quality if I had to go back and do it again in my first parish instead of having a part time children’s katak Attucks person and this might be controversial I would have taken that I would have canceled that position and taken that money and invested it in in in beefing up music yeah and having a really good worship leader who gets it who understands that it was a gift from your heart it opens them up and then so the second one is homilies preaching the Pope Francis said it didn’t II never and jelly Guardium that the priests suffer from preparing homilies and the people suffer from having to listen to them I mean we’re not the one for our great preaching and how often do we hear homilies and it just doesn’t feel or even sound like good news and it doesn’t have to be that way I think even a challenging homily it can be like good news but I think the key thing is that we as priests we were changed trained to be theologians and we were formed in hyper academic environments where we give these theological homilies but the goal of preaching is not information its transformation yeah you know and Pentecost said that when people here at Peter preached they were cut to the heart and what did they say what must we do you know so preaching must lead people to a place where the hearts are cut and they say what must me what must we do that’s really just intervene here the father console Lamesa a couple years ago he and I were at a conference together and before the conference was over he said we don’t want to talk to you for a minute so we came together and he said I just want to share something with you and he said I always remember that preaching the power to change is in the anointing of the Holy Spirit he said I tell every priest seek the anointing of the Holy Spirit have expectation then that the word that the Holy Spirit gives you for your people is gonna transform hearts is gonna move and change people any look and he says don’t forget that he said that’s so important tell them that so I’m I’m being faithful to father console of Mason I’m telling him what what he said and I really believe that yeah and I think that the charisma itself has a special anointing there was a Vatican document couple years ago Anders Pope Benedict – it said that the charismatic preaching whether to a funeral or whatever it is about the basic message of salvation through Jesus Christ his death on the cross and being filled with the Holy Spirit has a special power of its own so keep preaching preaching that is relevant and transformative too often we have as we suffer from preaching that is irrelevant doesn’t connect with people’s lives and it’s merely informational then Hospitality you know is like it’s a key thing in Catholic churches were not someone that can be pretty I see you know and that doesn’t just mean a few people with nametags that means the whole community taking responsibility for that and also even from the way liturgy celebrated to presume that you’ve got non churchgoers with you you know that’s presume it how do people who don’t go to church feel in your church so that’s the first for what’s number five I was meaningful we have just a for about four minutes of meaningful communities number five this is key you know I really believe that today the church needs to operate out of a belong believe behaved model people people are not going to believe something unless you build up trust and relation chip and once they believe it they’ll change their behaviors but we need to begin with belonging and our communities must become real communities where people are known and loved and cared for not just a bunch of strangers under under under the roof for one hour and we look at the body language of parishes yeah for sure and then use them how to do that what that means concretely how do we well some even sit through alpha because that’s the core value of alpha it’s beautiful the more people go through alpha it changes everything so after that it is clear expectations no matter if their expectations can be scary for people but most organizations have expectations and I believe that combining a high degree of welcoming and high expectation is key and that means we’re very clear at Saint Benedict we say that everyone is called to worship to grow to connect to serve and to give financially we talk about that and you know I think the Lord has expectations off us and and and I don’t think I think is very much in line with what he calls us to do to speak about expectations there were seven strength-based ministry this is a boat starting with the person too often in church should we say this is the need ‘let’s grab any warm body and we we at Saint Benedict Parish we tribe strive always to begin with the person what are your gifting what are your strengths what are your passions let’s find a ministry that will that will allow God to use you to the maximum rather than the other way around formation of small groups number eight small groups are key for for growth for experiences of belonging we at Saint Benedict Parish use small groups four to ten people for adult catechesis this past spring we had about 70 small groups running in pairs ee different groups yes well and from four to ten people and then also we have mid-size groups which are twenty to thirty people and we have eleven of those groups and they are principally about belonging the small groups are about catechesis and learning okay so but whatever shape you have they’re essential if you want a parish to move form a new submission you want to change that culture these are essential because when your parish begins to consider this stuff to be normal as opposed to be what a couple of weird people do you know that you’ve made traction now this one we’re gonna touch on more deeply in our final session together of a number nineties experience of the Holy Spirit absolutely essential as father can tell Amissah said yeah welcome back to that next session okay number 10 become an inviting church it is the key thing if you get numbers 1 to 9 you’re not you try stopping people from inviting people to your church because they’re gonna fall in love they’re gonna be so excited about what’s going on your church is going to be a place that’s going to be welcoming to strangers and non-believers and non churchgoers and your parish is gonna have multiple events whether it’s alpha or concerts or grief support ministry or parenting course or or or even Sunday Mass you know because your Sunday Mass will be maximized to be welcoming and what we’re trying to do you know being Invitational it doesn’t happen by itself you have to be intentional one final point on this though we’ve got to be clear that God and we’re called to invite we’re not responsible for the results and I think that’s a key thing because a lot of people fear well what if the person says no as if that’s up to me but no you were called to invite and leave the rest to the Lord and often it takes for invitations yeah I remember what you were saying at one point years ago he talked about investing and inviting like invest in the people that are in your life that are close to your neighbors your friends your invest in a relationship love them get to know them and out of that relationship invite them that’s right to the place invite them to a place you’re confident when you take the risk of inviting somebody you know the environment you’re inviting them into is known since in some parishes you just invite the person the man I say no don’t you don’t do that because it’s not going to be necessarily know granted God can intervene at any point but you know we want to be sure we want to be have confidence that it’s going to be life-giving it’s gonna be a life-giving experience and I think these 10 values are values that churches that are alive and dynamic and are making missionary disciples this is the stuff that isn’t value to them not just they don’t just say it they actually live it that this is their value and I really believe that by embracing these values the culture will change the culture will become healthy and it will lead to growth because healthy things grow and it’s a reality I’ve experienced personally at your parish it’s it’s real and it’s been handed in a small parish a medium sized parish and a big parish all right now we saved the best for last in the fifth sessions gonna be on the Holy Spirit the role of the Holy Spirit I mean it’s sort of obvious right but I don’t think everybody understands what that means and let’s talk about it then Thanks

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