This past Saturday I received four parish mission requests in one morning.
Yes, you read that right.
Four. All for Lent 2019.
It’s exciting. I love working with parishes. Absolutely love it. The people I get to interact with inspire me. It’s a privilege to work with them.
In fact, I talk about that privilege at almost every event I speak at.
I make sure the event attendees know that I wholeheartedly believe God wants them to be there and that God wants to do something powerful in their lives. And I implore them to never allow anyone the privilege of speaking at their parish who doesn’t wholeheartedly believe that God wants them there and that God wants to do something powerful in their lives.
Speaking at a parish and working with the pastor or staff or volunteers for an event is a privilege I don’t take for granted. I want the event to be as successful as possible. I know that the organizers want the event to be as successful as possible. And I believe God wants it to be as successful as possible too.
The problem is I don’t always know what success means. And I don’t think the parish organizing the event always know what success means either.
Consider a parish mission. Is a parish mission successful when. . .
There are so many different ways to define that word: “Success”.
And I can get caught up worrying about success. . .
Am I doing it right?
Is this going to work?
Is this the right thing?
Is this the right talk?
Am I using the right stories?
Am I giving them the right next steps?
Sometimes before an event I’ll get all panicky. I’ll think I should maybe re-write one of the talks. Or that I haven’t prayed enough. Or that I’m just not holy enough to do this kind of work. I’ve had those kinds of fears for years. Luckily, a long time ago a friend gave me a prayer that helps me get over it:
Lord, I’m going to do my work to the best of my ability. Help me to trust that You will do Yours.
It’s such a beautiful prayer. This prayer puts me in my place. Because in reality, when I get all twisted up about the things that are outside my control, I’m really falling into that trap of relying totally on myself, rather than God.
This short prayer reminds me that my work isn't about me and it doesn't rely on me.
God’s called me to do particular work with parishes. But more important than my work is His work. And I’ll never do a better job than God (duh).
As the speaker, I have things I need to focus on to do my best work. And the parish has specific work it should focus on to do its best work.
What does the parish work on?
Vision - Have you prayed about your parish mission or event? Do you know who God wants you to reach? Have you asked God what He wants to do in their lives?
Planning - Have you planned the details of time, location, length, speaker, and hospitality according to God’s vision?
Execution - Are you doing the least you can do, or the most you can do? Are you settling for good enough, when you could be striving for excellence? Have you recruited people to help who have the talents to make your parish mission or event successful?
Follow up - Is there a clear point to your parish mission or event? Do the people know what they are supposed to do next? Is there some sort of clear follow up that prevents the ‘flash in the pan’ effect?
These are huge questions. Every step above could warrant an entire post to itself. Those steps outline our work. Conversion, changed hearts, changed lives. . . that’s God’s work.
In ministry - and in life - we are always better off when we focus on our work, and trust God to do His.
That’s why I’ve created the Parish Mission Best Practice Survey. I want to do the best work I can possibly do, and I want to help the parishes I work with do the best work they can possibly do.
The goal is to learn some best practices, see what works for different parishes, and learn what ’success’ really looks like when it comes to parish missions. In the end, I hope this research will lead to a practical guide to make the best parish mission possible.
Is the research going to be perfect? No. And guess what: we will never do a perfect job. But it could help us be better. And as you know, I’m all about being better.
Click below to take the parish mission survey:
It will only take you a few minutes and I plan to share the results with anyone who wants them. Take the survey and you’ll be helping me and parishes across the country do better.
Y'all are awesome. As always, thanks for reading! If you have any questions about the survey or the work I'm doing, shoot me a comment or an email.
My name is Dominick Albano and I'm an author, speaker, and consultant.