Corresponds to Question 21 of the survey.
If Jesus Christ is not the center, nothing else matters.
It may sound drastic, but our whole parish survey may come down to Question 21: Which of the following best describes how you practice your faith and relate to Jesus Christ?
What is the point of all of our planning, our programs, our ministries, and even relationally-focused pastoral care, if we are not helping people grow in their relationship with Christ in and through the Church? Can anyone in our parishes grow in the true practice of faith if that practice is separated from Jesus Christ and their intimacy with Him? If we take these questions seriously, and the answers our parishioners gave to Question 21, we might:
Open Meetings by Asking the Question
What if every meeting started with: “Where are you in your relationship with Jesus Christ?” From gatherings with youth, liturgy practice, parish council, and staff times, could you imagine what would happen if you clearly communicated that our priority is our relationship with Christ by asking this question first? I imagine our communities would come to understand:
- They should be asking themselves this question.
- They can also ask others this question.
- Whatever they’re about to engage in, no matter how important, is secondary to that answer.
- God is as interested in what he is doing in them, that what he is doing through them.
Plan with the End in Mind
The End is Jesus Christ. The liturgy is our perfect example of what is the goal when we gather, which is to experience union with Jesus Christ as His Body. Do our programs and events:
- Speak the name of Jesus?
- Proclaim Jesus’ life from the Scriptures?
- Tell the stories of what Jesus is doing right now, in the lives of His people, in our community?
Go Beyond the Gathered
Part of what we are doing as leaders is modeling practices of faith that can be incorporated at home and as individuals. In fact, it’s the vision of all who are specifically called in the name of the Church as both clergy and Lay Ecclesial Ministers to empower and equip the faithful for their apostolic work in the world. So how do we:
- Demonstrate practices that can be incorporated by people on their own or in their family, such as Lectio Divina, or Liturgy of the Hours?
- Introduce practices that might expand the devotional life of our communities, such as Praying with Icons, or Christ-centered Meditation?
- Allow the sanctification that Jesus is working on in their lives to be the source of their Mission in their places of work, their families, and their schools?
Scripture testifies to Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone of faith. The Cornerstone is not the end of the building, but without it, nothing can be built. Let us build our communities on Jesus Christ and his relationship with us, and may we not rest until not only those in our churches, but all those in our community and our entire world can check the box, that states: Jesus Christ is at the center of all I do.
Have you ever come together with your colleagues in your parish and asked this question: “Is Jesus Christ the center of all we do?”