Here's the reading list our new parish leadership team will be working through this autumn. 4 books we hope can inspire us to transform our parish. You can read about the team here.
Reading plan of excerpts:
(1) ‘Warfare in Heaven’: Calling consumers to become disciples
Rebuilt, by White and Corcoran, pp.1-11, 49-65
Issues: Are parishioners ‘consumers’ or ‘disciples’? c.f. Needy/complaint/demanding consumers
Complaints: the reaction to proposed change
(2) The Mission of the Church and the need for Change
Divine Renovation, by James Mallon, pp. 9-25, 43-45, 52-57; Rebuilt pp.58-64
Questions to consider:
(a) Why does the Church exist? Why does our local parish exist?
(b) What does Pope Francis mean by a “self-referential Church”? How does the example of changing Mass times illustrate this?
(c) Bigger question: What cultural changes, both outside and within the Church, mean that a parish can maintain structures that only served a previous era?
(d) How is change likely to be experienced by the parish?
(3) Defining Mission and Strategy
Issues to consider:
The distinction between a mission and a specific set of strategies
The usefulness of old-style ‘mission statements’
What will the consumers say?
(4) The Sunday Experience
Rebuilt pp.87-114; Divine Renovation pp.95-96 (plus pp.95-117 if time)
Question to consider: How would St Anthony’s “Sunday experience” feel if you approached it as a visiting Catholic? As a new parishioner? As a unchurched outsider?
Issues in chapter: music, welcome, cleanliness, scrapping all social events, the environment
Note that Rebuilt pp.96-97 contradicts Divine Renovation p.113
(5) The Benedict Option
pp.1-5; 16-18; 236 as summary of book’s thesis
pp.100-121; 124-129 on how liturgy forms culture
pp.124-129 on putting God first
(a) How do we form a Christian culture in the midst of our secular society? How do we do this as a parish? As individual families?
(b) What choices must we make as individuals and families if we are to put God first?
(c) If liturgy forms culture, does a ‘welcoming’ liturgy subvert it to another agenda? When does liturgy become about us and not about God?
(6) Community and Small Groups
Rebuilt pp.151-170; Divine Renovation pp.138-141
(a) To what extent is, and to what extent is not, our parish a community?
(b) Is Mallon’s analysis of the modern ‘belong-behave-believe’ model accurate?
(7) Expectations and Tithing
Divine Renovation pp.153-164; Rebuilt pp. 171-188 (or at least p.188 summary)
(a) To what extent does this reverse the ‘consumer’ model of parishioner?
(b) Does this still leave a place for the half-committed in the pew?
(8) Changing expectations in Sacramental Preparation
Divine Renovation pp.197-220, and pp.221-230 if time
(a) How would the parish respond to this?
(b) How could we prepare people for such a change of culture?
(c) Is this workable/desirable?