Ten Things You May Hear Your Priest Say on a Regular Basis
1) I believe.
The priest should have a sense of vision and clarity about the mission of the church and their own personal mission. If they are mature, tenacious, and self-reliant, the larger community can adjust and implement the vision. When priests tell people exactly what they think, they equip parishioners to manage their own feelings and responses. What does a priest believe? What kind of vision do they have? Do they have an audacious goal for the church and themselves?
2) Tell me more.
Lots of priests talk. Great priests listen. They are naturally curious about their congregation, its dynamics, its patterns. They are interested in people. They want to learn more about the assets in a congregation.
3) You might not be happy with this.
Priests know that their job isn’t to make people happy. Parishes often don’t want to change, and with a pleasant pastor, they don’t always have to. Conversion is perpetual, and clergy should be prepared to remind people that building a community is tough, if rewarding, work.
4) How can we improve?
The Japanese theory of Kaizen provides a perspective for the daily work that clergy and congregations should do. A priest should always trying to make hospitality, teaching and worship better and more transforming. Parishes that are constantly learning, are able to manage the adventure of change. It requires, however, that the congregation agree that it has much to learn.
5) It doesn’t need to be perfect. It does need to be fun.
Perfectionism is impossible. It also kills people. It actually suppresses vitality. Passion is more important. When improvement is fun, the church feels better and people want to be a part of that team.
6) How can we make this happen?
The main function of a church is not just to be a building, but to do work. A church can be a catalyst for all sorts of interesting events. A priest enables people to do the work and then holds them accountable for doing it.
7) Share the work.
Too often people burn out in churches where people do not share the work with others. We should always ask someone else to help us with the tasks that need to be done. If there aren’t enough people, then perhaps its not worth the effort.
8) Can you help me?
The job of the priest is not to be the substitute Christian on behalf of other people. A priest asks people to help because they can help and he knows they would like to.
9) Let’s Party.
Similar to “let’s rock” or “its time to get busy,” or “let’s celebrate,” the point is that gathering the people and serving is pleasurable. It gets us out of the internet, away from TV, and with other people.
10) I’m proud of you.
People often join churches feeling crushed and passive about their own abilities. But when they are given guidance, freedom and authority, they can succeed in reaching their potential. When they do the work and succeed, a priest – on behalf of the congregation – should praise them for their work. Of course, praise when people don’t deserve it is counter productive. Still, offering such praise and being attentive to the work people do well, is a sure way to build an inspired staff.
11) Thank you.
Gratitude is where it begins, and can not be said enough. Not only priests: everyone should thank each other. A church should make sure it spends resources to thank the volunteers who work hard on a regular basis.