[Below is a letter sent to pastors in our region, many of whom are engaged in the Catholic person, family and parish transformation movement of MassImpact.us. Please read as we share with our pastors the urgent mission of building communities of missionary disciples.]
New Year's Greetings Father!
I hope this note finds you well.
If you're like us, you're ready for a long sabbatical from all matters political! Yet, along with those rightly pressing a presidential staff, we similarly like to consider: As a result of our work, where will our parishes, marriages and families be four years down the road?
This February marks 3 years of Mass Impact. Looking back, we're so moved by God's call and sustaining grace. Since we ventured out "on the water," hundreds have more deeply encountered Jesus Christ. Many pastors and parishioners are now engaged in more than "another program," but a way of life. Truly, thank you for your prayers and support.
So, I'm taking this opportunity to clarify what we're about, why it's so important, and the decisive, lasting difference we would like to make for your parish.
What is our measure of success?
We seek to be an answer to the big question following any program: "Then what?"
We were moved to consider, a month and year down the road:
(1) Are they actively engaged in making their homes cultures of encounter?
(2) Are they actively engaged in their parishes?
(3) Are they actively extending this invitation to others?
Compared to a few decades ago, while we now have many good programs, stats suggest a new challenge: If we're not showing them the Road (discipleship as a way of life) beyond the next Door (another program), we may be contributing to fatigue and disillusionment. We may actually be contributing to people being inoculated against the faith. They come to reduce "faith" to that weekend, that program, that book, that event, those people, that place, that time.
All the great "parish transformation" books (Forming Intentional Disciples, Divine Renovation, Rebuilt) corroborate what many pastors are saying: It is impossible to satiate the insatiable appetite of spiritual consumers. Pastors note that while many of these faithful may be committed to church activity, it's simply not overflowing into their homes. Marriages are struggling. Children are not being engaged. The grace of great programs is simply not overflowing into ordinary lives.
United with pastors, we want to step in the gap. We believe IT can happen. Jesus gives us guidance.
We're informed by Jesus. While there were many, great things He could do, He devoted Himself to Mission #1: Forming the 12 disciples. He understood that pursuit of this great required surrendering so many good things. He understood that they could not give what they did not live. To this point, a pastor recently commented: "We're always talking about them... how to get them to Mass, or how to get them engaged in the parish. What witness are we giving them about what missioned community looks like in ordinary life?"
As pastors and parishioners, we're challenged and encouraged: Does the Holy Communion we receive correspond to a holy community we live?
We're encouraged by one pastor's words to his parish council: "Thank you for the hour you're giving here. And all you do for our parish. It is important. It does make a difference. However, let's consider the mission we've been entrusted. When's the last time we dedicated an hour leading our families in our respective homes, engaged in meaningful talk and prayer? Are we attuned and responsive to their spiritual growth? If we're not there, what do we really expect from the rest of our parish? If we're not doing it there, I'm robbing from them...."
While an aspiring violinist has the witness of Joshua Bell, where does the aspiring disciple (everyone) find a great example of a missioned community of believers living it out beyond "church" moments? Beyond a couple hours a week?
If they did, and in places where they do, parishes are packed. Where this is happening, people are discovering and living Jesus as the answer to their deepest aspirations. It is contagious. It is overflowing.
Jesus wasn't afraid of the standard. He wasn't afraid of letting "team" go who didn't meet the standard: "Many left him." (John 6:66) He demonstrated to us that the "vertical beam" of deepening discipleship is absolutely essential to hold up the "horizontal beam" of multiplying disciples.
These "cross metrics" define what we're about on our team. In our homes. With our parishes. With this movement.
It is working. Of those who are engaged in Mass Impact:
95% increase in talking and praying in their homes,
91% increase in commitment to their parish,
86% increase in inviting others to parish life.
Putting all this in the positive, are you interested in seeing this kind of impact in your parish? 95% increase in talking and praying in their homes? 91% increase in parish commitment? 86% increase in inviting others to your parish life?
Here are three FREE things you can do right now to advance your mission:
1) LiveIT app (MassImpact.us/app) makes accessible the weekly Live IT Guide and Episode, making it easy and fun for families/groups to talk and pray in their homes. It also includes the IGNITE Radio Live! PODCAST (more at MassImpact.us). Please let us know if we can send you free promotional resources, posters and bulletin announcements.
2) Regular events including SPARK, IGNITE and ABLAZE! (EVENTS). Our next ABLAZE! will be Sunday, February 19, 6p at Regina Coeli, featuring two stars of an upcoming movie called "Fearless." This will be a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the fullness of our Catholic Faith. Please come with your parish. Would you be willing to hear Confessions? (MassImpact.us/ABLAZE)
3) Contact us. We'd love to discuss where your parish is at and how we might be able to serve you (MORE). With Lent coming up, consider our impactful, 3 night Parish IGNITION (MORE).
Finally, this year our IGNITE Catholic Family Fest (August 12) will involve regional pastors in the design and delivery of a powerful theme, "Live the Mass." Lead pastors are Msgr. Michael Billian, Fr. Mike Dandurand and Fr. Jeff McBeth. W would love it if you joined our team! It will make a big difference in more fully engaging families in the mission of your parish. Please contact me!
Thank you for all you do. We are truly grateful for you and your priesthood. We pray for you fervently and regularly. Please keep us in your prayers!