In this blog, I am charged with keeping the main thing, the main thing, as are my guest bloggers. We reflect quite frequently on the process of conversation, everyday spirituality, and a stewardship way of life. There are many books and articles out there about parish engagement, rebuilding community, and creating a dynamic faith environment. But we must never forget that there is a mission at the heart of all this discussion, and it is more important than doubling the size of your congregation or greatly increasing your weekly offering. That mission is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and lead others toward an eternal life with Him.
Too often we hear talks about how to make our churches more vibrant places and we fail to discuss “why” that is important in the first place. It is a great feeling to belong to a community that is alive with many activities for all ages. We want churches to be places of hospitality and welcoming. Parishes with excellent communication plans are able to reach young adults and those who are being swallowed whole by a consumption-culture media machine. But sometimes, we work to achieve these things with the achievement being the end goal. Those characteristics of a church community are never the end goal. Jesus is always the end goal.
For too long we have allowed our faith to be a component of our lives, rather than the lens through which we see all aspects of our life. This has led to a presentation of Church as a place where we spend part of our Sunday and sometimes volunteer some time. In fact, we are Church, and that reality does not change for 6 days of the week. We are Church 24/7. And the proclamation of the Good News on a Sunday serves only to strengthen us to proclaim that Good News the other 6 days of the week.
As we seek to create exciting and vibrant communities of faith, let us all take a step back and reflect on our motivations for such an effort. Alas, the opposite extreme of believing that creating these types of communities does not matter is also present in the Church. Some pastors and pastoral leaders have bought into a lie that offering Mass and a few programs is enough. They see growth as a problem that would have to be managed, and new programs as not being worth the effort. They have lost sight of the main thing as well. For if the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ is essential to being a faithful disciple, then we must never rest in finding new ways of evangelizing others. We truly are talking about a matter of life or death, eternal life that is!
So why do we do the things we do? What are our goals? If you truly want a vibrant and engaged church community, keep the proclamation of the Good News the main thing. That proclamation will last and it can be sustained. All your other efforts, if not done with this as the foundation, will fall away.