Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Manifesto -- Part Six (C)


 Mental Models
The phrase ‘mental models’ is a term for the way we see and understand the world. When used as corporate speak, it often denotes those ways of thinking that have become obsolete in the business world.

According to Deacon Dean, “In church ministry, mental models can become deeply ingrained. Early religious experiences, upbringing, certain theologies can create inflexible mental models on how to view the world, interpret situations, and come up with conclusions. Traditions run deep within religious denominations and congregations. For example, the Roman Catholic Mass remained virtually unchanged for over four hundred years until Vatican II. Today there are those strongly working to return to the Tridentine Mass. Perhaps in no other arena is stability sought than within the religious arena. While personal conversion typically involves a radical shift in mental models, Christians need ongoing conversion. Openness to the development of mental models in congregational leadership is essential for effective adaptability in a changing culture.” (Emphasis added.)

Everyone has heard the worn out phrase ‘Change is the only constant’. Most people understand the process of earthly life: birth, growth, decay, death. Human culture may always be in flux, but if one literally accepts that change is the only constant, then one is actively rejecting the LORD, who tell us in Malachi 3:6 – “For I am the Lord, and I change not…” And this from Hebrews 13:7-9 – “Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same forever. Be not led away with various and strange doctrines.”

Is it Catholic to be open to the “development of mental models in congregational leadership” as a way to adapt to the culture? How does changing our leadership structures equip us to be better Catholics? Are we supposed to conform and adapt to the culture or are we supposed to be “in the world but not of the world?”

Pope Benedict XVI recently visited Germany. Before he arrived there was a spasm of negative press and the threat of large-scale opposition to his visit. It came to naught.

Interviewed about the Pope’s visit, journalist Peter Seewald (who reverted to the Catholic Church after spending time extensively interviewing then Cardinal Ratzinger), had this to say:
The fate of the Church

 "Later in the interview Seewald said the Pope came to Germany to draw attention to problems, because “he does not want a fictitious peace but rather one that is genuine. He is anything but someone who covers things up with nice words or tries to put make-up on the seriousness of the situation with massive events…Today things are so bad that many people know absolutely nothing about their faith.  They know nothing about the Gospel and the Sacraments,” Seewald said.

Nevertheless, he added, “The Pope gave appropriate directions. The fate of the Church and of the faith, he clearly said, is determined in the context of the liturgy and the Eucharist. True change is only possible through the transformation of the heart.” (Emphasis added.) 

Put simply, the successor of Peter wants to lead us to the sources.  And they do not belong to him or to the Vatican, but rather, out of them flows the ‘living water.’  And that a Church exists that protects and cares for these sources should make us feel happy and secure,” he said." 

The Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, knows where true change comes from—the Eucharist, and not through rigorous cycles of persuasive coercion where our Catholic convictions are torn asunder and replaced with something else.

Below, I cite sources mentioned in Chapter 3 because it is important to note the lack of Catholic resources used. Aside from the Biblical authors, no Catholic Church leaders (popes or cardinals or bishops or priests or nuns) are mentioned. No current Catholic writers, no prominent Catholic laity, no mention of the Magisterium. None of the collected wisdom of the Catholic Church is noted. No writings of the saints. Nada. Nothing. Zilch.

Sources cited in Chapter 3 of Effective Church Operational Systems:
George Parsons and Speed Leas, Understanding Your Congregation as a System
Christian A. Schwarz, Natural Church Development
Stephen A. Macchia, Becoming a Healthy Church
Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline
Bill Hybels and LaVonne Neff, Too Busy Not To Pray
Gary McIntosh and R. Daniel Reeves, Thriving Churches in the Twenty-First Century
Yong-gi Cho and Harold Hostetler, Successful Home Cell Groups
Tony Dale, Felicity Dale, and George Barna, The Rabbit and the Elephant
Leonard Sweet, Aquachurch 2.0
James C. Collins, Good to Great
Patrick J. Brennan, Parishes That Excel (The lone book that could be considered to have a Catholic perspective, although it is ecumenical and was published in 1992.)
Robert K. Greenleaf and Larry C. Spears, Servant Leadership
Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline

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