What if church leaders started to look for opportunities to invite people to trust the parish and to develop a relationship with the community?
Last fall, some of our local parish directors/coordinators of religious education read and discussed Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples.
Last fall, some of our local parish directors/coordinators of religious education read and discussed Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples. The conversations were amazing and often very practical.The group spoke of opportunities for targeted “threshold conversations.” They had the insight that every person they encounter in daily ministry is a potential for invitation to trust – to begin the process of evangelizing. They agreed that they have many such moments, but seldom take time to converse and truly listen to people’s stories.
Recently one of those present for that discussion told me about a mother who came to the parish to register her child for sacrament preparation, but was very apologetic for being “late.” She had other children, but remained firm that she could not put them into the program at this time, mentioning that the family had been having significant personal and financial challenges. The coordinator said she listened sympathetically and invited the woman to reconsider, mentioning the possibility of financial assistance, but did not pressure her.
A few weeks later, the coordinator phoned the mother to ask how things were going. A long conversation ensued, during which the mother told her family’s story and the parish leader listened and gently encouraged. Eventually the mom agreed to come in to discuss financial arrangements for faith formation for the other children and they are now registered in the program and the mom has volunteered to help as a classroom aide.The first door to the threshold of trust had been opened – all because the leader took initiative to continue the conversation.
What difference would it make in your work as a parish or diocesan leader if you looked at every personal encounter as potential for compassionate listening? Can you become a doorway to the next threshold of discipleship for the people you minister with?