The Big Goal
*All quotes taken from Archbishop Lucas.
Four years ago we rolled out the Vision and Priorities for the Archdiocese of Omaha. One Church: Encountering Jesus, Equipping Disciples, and Living Mercy. In the words of Archbishop Lucas, “The vision is not a project so much as a hope, of the kind of church we can be, the people that we are called to be in Jesus Christ and in our time.”
Then, with COVID came the opportunity and grace to pause and reflect on the Vision and to renew our efforts. With this time, came clarity, and now, we are rolling out The Big Goal.
Within 6 years, each of our parishes in the Archdiocese will become missional communities.
“It’s one of the most consequential things we have done.” And so it will be necessary to “turn towards the Lord and also allow Him to turn us out, to see the mission field that is before us which is people, brothers and sisters of ours. The Lord is inviting us to see them and then to accept His commission, His invitation to go to them with the light of the Gospel, the mercy of the Gospel.”
What is a missional community?
“We look at the word missional, and it means to be sent. We think of the initial sending in the church, Jesus, giving what we call the great commission or the great mission to his first disciples, but really to all of us down through the ages…So missional communities will be outward looking and, concerned about what it means to be a parish beyond self-preservation – doing the life of the parish in a different way, in a way that really allows the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of his death and resurrection to sort of burst out of the bounds of the parish, burst out of the organizational structures of the parish, to have an influence on the greater community around us.”
Why this Big Goal is needed?
- We are experiencing a diminishment. If we are going to move into the future, cooperating with grace, we need to know the world we are living in and be honest about what our current efforts are yielding as a harvest. The Church as a whole is shrinking dramatically.
- There is a grace being offered right now. It is a grace that has been offered to all generations: A deep, personal, and powerful relationship with God. The encounter with Jesus is at the heart of our pastoral vision, and the lack of this encounter is at the heart of the diminishment the Church is experiencing. “And, it’s a little embarrassing to think that we would be trying to experience the church now without kind of taking advantage this grace…That We haven’t encountered Jesus in a deep personal way, haven’t really bought the fact that he’s the Son of God risen from the dead, that he’s Lord of all this stuff we’re experiencing…and he’s not put off by it…But, I don’t know how often that dawns on us and on enough of us.”
And so, “part of our challenge as we work toward this Big Goal will be to … turn towards the Lord and also allow Him to turn us out, to see the mission field that is before us which is people, brothers and sisters of ours. The Lord is inviting us to see them and then to accept His commission, His invitation to go to them with the light of the Gospel, the mercy of the Gospel.”
Overview of the Key Characteristics
Collaborative Leadership: We are acknowledging that the Holy Spirit gives gifts of leadership to certain people who can work in communion with the pastor. In secular organizations we see that leadership is key and so a good that we can learn from. “We’re looking for the best – best idea, the deepest understanding of the Lord’s call from whoever that might come. So, it might be staff, other influential people in the parish, or often a combination that work with the pastor to give a spark of dynamism and conversion…to the parish from the position of leadership.”
Clear Path of Discipleship: This means “to be able to…articulate and set out a path for discipleship. So how do we all grow? How do we take the next step? And then the step after that? …both in the direction of Jesus and out to the world in which he sends us. This has a lot to do with the equipping of disciples…those who are already active in the church…who are a little bit put off with, ‘how my supposed to be a missionary, and what’s being asked of me?’ This is the way that we can, continue to grow in our faith and grow in the confidence that we not only know the Lord ourselves, but we have something to share from that relationship others.
Culture of Generosity: “Too often, our experience in parishes has been when we need something, people are very generous. So, the roof is leaking and it’s like, ‘Can we all chip in to get a new roof?’ And invariably, people will do it, so it’s not like there’s a stinginess. But, there’s a call here also for conversion, for sort of taking the initiative to put a significant portion of my day, my money, my attention, my compassion, ever at the service of others in practical ways. So not simply saying, ‘Well, if somebody needs something and they ask, I’ll give it to them.’ To have that flowing out of me.”
Small Steps (Encouragement from the Archbishop)
- Imagine what your parish could be six years from now if it had some of the characteristics talked about in this episode of the podcast. What would you love it to be?
- Take that to prayer, and ask Jesus what his plan is. Invite the Lord, and imagine with him what could be possible for your parish community and what would be the first step in these characteristics.
- And then, pray for the grace to take the step.