This two-minute video is hosted by me, Dr. Roger Firestien:
Well initially I’m always a little bit reluctant to get into a process because I never know what the process is going to be, and I like to to have guarantees. So, there’s a risk factor involved here, but it’s a very healthy risk factor. I think because it can really open you up to possibilities that you would never have imagined.
Meet Father Jack Ledwon, Pastor at St. Joseph University Parish in Buffalo New York. Several years ago, my graduate students and I worked with St. Joseph University Parish to help them craft a vision for their future. We worked with the Parish leadership team and then conducted a series of town hall meetings with members of the congregation.
What was is like to go through the visioning process with us?
Well I think so often in pastoral work when you’re working in a parish or with a community, you can be on a treadmill, because you’re so busy and you keep repeating the same things over and over again. There’s a tendency to repeat the things that work. Every once in a while, I think it’s good to take a step back, or to take a step off the treadmill and to take a look at the big picture and to see, “are we doing everything we should be doing?” “Are we moving in the right direction?”
It was a very powerful experience. We just didn’t want to craft a statement that was just a lot of religious language that we borrowed from other people or that we’ve heard along the way. We really wanted to dig a little deeper to say, you know, “What are we about?” and “What defines us?”
What were the results of the visioning process?
I think it was successful in gathering people that weren’t just going to be like-minded, they weren’t just going to nod their heads and agree with everything that was said. So, there was a real healthy exchange because they were coming at it from different perspectives and with different experiences and with different investment.
The process was also important because it gave people a forum in which they could feel safe to express themselves. At the end, I think we were able to arrive at a vision statement that had that communal support and also that everyone could subscribe to; everybody could identify with.
Creativity always has to be at the heart of who we are as a church. We’re not just here to kind of go through the motions and do the rote thing again and again and again. I think looking over the two thousand years of Christian history we see that the church has been radically different because of cultural forces outside of it. It’s shifted. Its shape has changed and its style of worship has changed. It’s style of ministry has changed from people who are hermits to people who are monks and monasteries, to friars who were out in the marketplace and I think we’re at one of those cultural crossroads today.
I’m Roger Firestien.
Thanks for watching.
Stay ahead of the herd. Get creative.