So you are involved in ministry of some kind. Maybe you’ve been doing it for years and you’ve noticed that it’s increasingly harder to make a lasting impact on the people you serve. At least you’ve noticed on a larger scale we are seeing a dip in things like mass attendance, marriages, and baptisms.
We’re working harder than ever, pouring more hours and energy in the work that we do, but we’re just not having the same kind of impact that we would like to see.
What is the problem?
Whether we are teaching RCIA classes, leading a Bible study, teaching religious education, speaking at a retreat, or just hoping to see the light of Christ impact someone we love, it is vital that we don’t lose sight of the outcomes we hope to see.
Far too often we get so caught up in the details of a given ministry (lesson plans, activities, event planning, curriculum, quality resources, practicing talks, scheduling woes, food, time, volunteers, etc.) that we forget what we are actually trying to accomplish. We lose sight of the goals we are trying to reach and the impact we are trying to make.
Know Your Ministry Outcomes
In whatever ministry you are in right now, stop and ask yourself:
What outcome or transformation am I trying to see? What impact do I hope to see the Lord make in these people’s lives?
Or more specifically:
- What transformation should occur in a person walking out of RCIA for the last time?
- What will the parents of a newly baptized child think, feel, and do as a result of their experience?
- How will a child who has received their first communion think and act differently than other children their age?
- What will teens do as a result of coming to our weekly youth group nights?
- What values will be instilled in graduates of our Catholic schools?
- What difference will being an usher, lector, or eucharistic minister make in the lives of the people who volunteer?
In general I suspect these outcomes should be expected in every ministry:
- Deeper relationship with Christ
- Healing wounds of sin and sadness
- Inspiration and clarity about Christ’s saving work
- New perspective(s) on doctrines
Aligning Your Outcomes with Their Desires
We can’t stop here.
Knowing the transformation we want to see as a result of our ministry is a great start, but it’s not enough.
The key to actually seeing that transformation occur is making sure our goals align with the actual goals and desires of the people we serve.
In other words:
What do RCIA participants want out of their experience? Just to get married in the Church? Then make sure their experience of RCIA transforms that desire into a larger vision of the impact Christ can have on their marriage and their life.
What do pre-teens want out of Confirmation? Well, in my experience, they just want to get it over with to make their parents happy. But since they have to come to classes anyway, they at least want to enjoy their time with other kids their age. So, as Confirmation teachers, we better make sure we can connect the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit and the other effects of the sacrament of Confirmation to their desire to be accepted and loved by their peers and parents.
Get the idea?
So, take some time and think these questions through:
- What is the transformation you hope to see as a result of my ministry?
- How does that transformation align with the desires and goals of the participants in my ministry?
Now you’re talking! Those are exactly the questions people need to be asking! How do you want your ministry to affect people and what outcome do you want? If more people did this, there would be less ministers just going through the motions and doing the same old stuff. We would start thinking differently and creatively or trying to figure out how to do this if you don’t already know.