Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Manifesto -- Part Seven

Chapter Four: Project Design
The fourth chapter of Effective Church Operational Systems maps out the implementation plans for the Strategic Way. It explains the bones of the program, summarized this way:
1.      “Implement an effective ministry operating system in a Roman Catholic parish.
2.      Implement the elements of the Strategic Way Process
a.       Establish a clear destination statement including mission, vision, values, outcomes,   summary, and slogan.
b.      Develop and document parish level strategy.
c.       For each parish ministry develop and document its objectives, metrics, and strategy.
d.      Develop and document activity procedures for ministries.
e.       Optimize the organizational structure of the parish.
f.       Match the right leaders to lead the organization in the right places.
g.      Establish a network of leadership teams throughout the parish structure.
h.      Establish an ongoing evaluation and improvement process for all ministries.
3.      Develop a process for creating a strong leadership team and learning culture.”
It is a complex implementation system that seeks to replace the existing parish structure with one that has little in common with the present structure of a typical Catholic parish. Deacon Dean writes, “The driving force of the tacit mission of the parish was providing sacraments and the liturgical year. Maintaining the existing ministries was the primary goal. Therefore, very early on team building was a fundamental objective.”

Apparently, the sacraments are no longer considered the "tacit mission" of All Saints Parish.The question is: If providing the sacraments and following the liturgical year is not the primary goal, what is?
Again, that word ‘transformation’ is at the forefront.
One of the most troubling aspects of Effective Church Operational Systems is the pointed emphasis on transformation. This transformation is not yet categorized or defined. General outcomes such as a “relationship with God” or “living Gospel values and principles” are used, but there is not an explanation of how Catholics, within the structure of the parish, attain holiness.
However, based on what is left out of the thesis, one can surmise that the desired transformation is more an ideological one, rather than a Catholic understanding of a deepening holiness based on the sacraments, Church teachings and the tried-and-true structure of Catholic parishes.
While lip service is paid to God and to Biblical principles, The Strategic Way focus is solidly man-centered. It involves copious implementation strategies, which translates as a massive amount of busy work—planning, organizing, strategizing, and assessing of the parish, parishioners, staff, and so on. This type of activity can easily delude individuals into thinking they are accomplishing much, when in truth, very little progress is being actualized. See Figure 17, above, from the thesis. Click on it to make it bigger.
This intricate web of an organizational structure graphically illustrates the intended reach of this new system.
Dean writes, “Making an accurate assessment of where a parish truly is, takes brutal honesty…To create a parish level baseline current situation assessment the staff will conduct a SWOT (listing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. This is generated through conversations among the staff and with the Parish Pastoral Council (the principal advisory board to the Pastoral Administrator).” (Note: The SWOT assessment from June 2010 parish “Strategic Planning Rollout” can be found here. On page 18 of the 34 page Power Point presentation, 'sacrament' is listed as the sixth of seven values.)
He further writes, “The leaders must lay aside the assumption that the inherited organization is structured in the best way or that the existing ministries must all remain, that no more are necessary. Starting with a blank slate, the core leadership team designs the organization from the ground up in the most efficient way possible.”
Again, one can see the emphasis is on the complete overturn of the existing parish organizational structure, and its replacement with one that is foreign to a traditional parish. Through intensive training techniques, it promotes a form of lay clericalism. Instead of a proper understanding of the apostolate of the laity (see here for a correct explanation of the role of the laity as promulgated at Vatican II), it seeks to replace the ministerial priesthood with a ministerial laity.
This seems to be at the core of the desired transformation of both parishioners, and the parish organizational structure. Deacon Dean writes, “…church leaders can create the environments that cultivate transformation among individuals…the objective of personal transformation must be at the center of the mission of the parish.” He further states, “Personal transformation is the foundation of communal transformation. As people grow spiritually, they begin living Gospel values and principles. It transforms the culture of the community.”
Chapter four culminates with the idea that the “parish will intentionally cultivate a mindset for the leaders to see themselves in ongoing transformation as leaders, beginning with the paid staff. Reflective dialogue, especially during staff meetings and individual meetings among leaders, will be expected…as individuals learn and as the team learns, mental models change—the way we understand the world. As they use systems thinking, they begin to see the interconnectedness of the world around them and have a deeper understanding of the way things truly operate.”
Again, this is a quiet, yet aggressive technique of re-forming how a person thinks. It contains elements of group think (also, see here for a short video on group think.) Beginning with and concentrating on the leadership in the parish, this technique seeks to work from the top down to transform All Saints Parish, person by person, ministry by ministry.
Could this be a modern-day example of Pharisaism? Through a rigid system of guidelines, rules and behavioral modification, are parishioners being systematically steered towards a man-centered expression of unity, rather than the bond of unity in Christ?
Next: Chapter Five, “Outcomes,” is nearly 100 pages in length. It details the actual implementation of The Strategic Way in All Saints Parish.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In the Diocese of Black Duck

Fr. Z has written a belly-laugh of a post on, of all things, parish mergings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Tyrannical 'Nice'

The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, writes a column for First Things. Her latest is "The Shushing Tyranny of 'Be Nice!'"

The column has provoked some excellent comments on both sides of the issue. Here's a couple:

Maria says:
If you are not nice, then you are being judgmental. And being judgmental is the one unforgivable sin today. Unless of course you are judging someone about how judgemental they are, that's OK.
11.22.2011 | 11:22am
Mick Leahy says:
Recently (perhaps here) read a definition of 'political correctness' as: Peace before Truth. We should all know that The Truth will 'set us free'. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One Last Christmas

When you are thinking of giving this season, consider St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. It costs a million dollars a day to keep the hospital open.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A little housekeeping

Yes, a new website is coming, just not on my timetable. :-)

Also working on finishing up the review of Deacon Dean's Thesis "Effective Church Operational Systems, which has as a major goal the 'transformation' of parishioners.

This idea of transformation is also presented in the latest bulletin article titled "Transference versus Transformation". According to the article, transformation means spiritual growth, which is predicated upon nine points, including stewardship, evangelization, discernment, fellowship, conversion, and prayer and worship.

Regarding the New Evangelization, New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan recently said church leaders must invite the world to see Christ and the Church as one. According to the article, Catholic Church must renew its appeal, Archbishop Dolan tells conference,  "The archbishop explained that the mission of the New Evangelization requires an authentic turn to the Lord. 'Jesus prefers prophets, not programs; saints, not solutions,' he said."

Prophets. Saints. Not programs. Not solutions.

When Blessed Pope John Paul II proclaimed the New Evangelization, he put in motion a movement that is continuing through Pope Benedict XVI. Here is a short explanation of the New Evangelization by then Cardinal Ratzinger in 2000, which has as its major points the following: The Church as the Structure of the new evangelization; the Method is to promote the Gospel through the Church; Conversion--realizing that we are in need of Christ; the Kingdom of God as the key proclamation of Jesus; Communion with Christ in the sacramental life; and finally, the knowledge of eternal life.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chust for nice

Have you read Fr. Longenecker's article on why the changes in the Roman Missal are 'chust for nice'?

Behold the Lamb: The Triumph of the New Translation

Just in case you didn't know, Father often uses the funny term 'chust for nice' on his blog. See here.