4 Types of Parishes

On a scale of 1-10, how missional would you say your parish is?

In October 2020, the Archbishop launched the Big Goal that “Each parish in the Archdiocese of Omaha would become missional by the end of 6 years”. Implicit in that goal is the recognition that none of us are there yet.

So I invite each of you to ask, “Is my community dying, declining, swelling, or growing?” These four categories of parishes encompass every parish in our diocese.

To be clear, we do want to recognize where each of our parishes came from. For many many years, our parishes were booming and thriving, and that is a great thing to celebrate. The people who supported our parishes during that time established the solid foundation that we currently enjoy.

However, now, we live in a post-Christian era. We are in a transition, and that transition hurts. But, in order to understand where we are now and how to move forward, we can’t avoid that hurt. We need to recognize it and begin to identify the remedy.  An honest conversation about where we are at is designed to help us receive the grace of pastoral conversion and the hope of the Holy Spirit.

Practical Steps if you find yourself in:

  1. A Dying or Declining Parish
    1. Notice the stirrings of your heart because the mass attendance numbers only matter if they break your heart.
    2. Find other people. Look for those who share the discontent and pray together.
    3. Identify leaders. Programs aren’t enough. Identify leaders and grow them into missionary disciples.
    4. Burn the ships. Don’t look back or try to find a scape goat. Rediscover what it means to be missional. Don’t be afraid to radically change in order to move forward.
    5. Learn all that you can about what it means to be revitalized as a thriving community.
  2. A Swelling Parish
    1. You likely have a decent amount of staff. Pray with them and cast vision on a regular basis.
    2. Be open to learning and collaborating.
  3. A Growing Parish
    1. Share and witness to what works. Give that “good news” to others.
    2. Learn to tell good stories. Never hoard what you have but share it freely with others.

The Four Types of Parishes by Tim Glemkowski

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Jim Jansen – Director of Pastoral Services, Archdiocese of Omaha

Fr. Jeff Lorig – Pastor at St. Joan of Arc and St. Thomas More

Calvin Mueller – Head of Coaching & Rural Engagement, Parish Support Team

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