Know, Love, Serve

Test, quizzes, papers. I can honestly say I don’t miss these parts of school. But, I do miss the beautiful gift that school afforded – that of learning for the sake of learning. Through many years of education I was able to gradually “connect the dots” of understanding that helped me to know God. The more we know Him the more we can love Him.

Technology is being used in amazing ways to help people know who Jesus is by study of the Scriptures and the many aspects of our Christian Faith. As good as these resources are many people don’t know that they are available. Sacred Heart is one of several parishes offering an amazing tool for the intellectual, spiritual, and relational growth of our people. It’s called FORMED (formed.org).

FORMED covers the major areas of Catholicism. Ever find yourself wishing you had a greater ability to talk with a family member, neighbor, or coworker about your Roman Catholic Faith? Rest easy, you’re in good company. All of us could use more tools in our toolbox. Over Thanksgiving I’m sure there will be many conversations about the Church, politics, and culture. Why not go to the table (literally) better equipped? Formed is perfect for this.

Please check it out. The content is presented in beautiful and relatively brief videos. All you have to do is search out a topic and press play. Much easier than school, right? Best thing of all…NO TESTS! We’d love to hear your feedback once you’ve had a chance to use FORMED. We need resources like this more than ever so that we can be ready to give a defense for our beliefs. See the instructions below to sign on to FORMED.

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Divine Renovation Network

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“If they “get it,” and get on with it, churches can become the redemptive centers that Jesus intended them to be. Dynamic teaching, creative worship, deep community, effective evangelism, and joyful service will combine to renew the hearts and minds of seekers and believers alike, strengthen families, transform communities, and change the world.”

~ Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership: Field Tested Strategy for the 360º Leader

Being a pastor carries with it a certain amount of credibility. In spite of the tragic instances of abuse, the vast majority of priests and ministers live out their calling with integrity. These men and women enjoy what they do and take delight in helping people to know, love, and serve God.

Much like other professionals however, pastors are often vastly unprepared in the one area that will make or break their ministry – LEADERSHIP.

I hear it all the time from friends who practice medicine or law: “When I was in school I learned how to treat a patient or work with a client, but I never learned a thing about running a business.” The same is true for pastors. Our education is largely theological, not practical. We enter into ministry well equipped to preach and teach but sorely lacking in the necessary skill of leadership.

Catholics are waking up to this reality as priests and laity alike realize that in order for our parishes to become more powerful means of evangelization, we are going to have to get really good at leading versus simply managing outdated processes.

I, and our parish, have been blessed recently with an amazing opportunity to join 13 other parishes in the U.S. and Canada in a leadership coaching experience called the Divine Renovation Network (DRN). Many people have read the book Divine Renovation by Fr. James Mallon. Fr. Mallon is the pastor of St. Benedict Parish in Halifax. Over the past six years, he and his team have formed a parish that celebrates one thing above all else – lives changed by Jesus Christ.

Fr. Mallon and his team would say this about what’s happened at St. Benedict – their success is really about the people carrying out the vision of the parish. You see, leadership is not about one person telling others what to do. Rather, leadership is about inspiring and supporting a team who then live out the vision. This is the method Jesus used; it’s the way his mission multiplies.

From the DRN website: “The DRN is bringing together Catholic parishes who desire true change, real growth, and have a focus on missionary disciples.” Weekly coaching sessions for myself and my senior leadership team are going to help us become effective leaders who can empower others to carry forward the mission of Jesus here in Norfolk. What’s success look like? Well, that’s our next task. If we are ever going to measure our success, we’re going to have to agree on what God is calling us to do.

I’ll keep you updated on our progress. Please pray for us as we move along as a team. We feel so blessed to be growing together in this way so that, eventually, our parish as a whole will feel the effect.