Engagement in the Faith Community
The essential concepts contained in the engagement study are simple and have the potential for profound impact in our pastoral practice. We find ourselves building on what is working rather than dwelling on what is not; we find freedom to speak openly, to dream boldly and to find hope in Christ and in the community of which we are a part.
Community as a Relationship
Reading Growing an Engaged Church, we find ourselves understanding that when people come into a parish, they are entering into a potential relationship. Viewing the parish in this light helps us to grasp the impact of the feeling of engagement. In fact, one of the transformative aspects of engagement is that this research-verified dynamic of communal life is expressed as a feeling or a sense. People know engagement when they feel it or sense it; they are also conscious of its absence when such is true of a parish’s life. People readily feel growth in engagement and respond accordingly, and while we can never take engagement for granted and expect it to grow or be sustained without attention, there is a certain momentum that builds as engagement increases.
Every Person is of Value, the Community is of Value
In an engaged parish, individuals perceive that every person is of value and that the community is of value in their lives. This value on the person does not stand in contradiction to the importance of worship in the community, but rather helps people to be pre-disposed to gather for communal worship with open minds and hearts, ready to be transformed by Christ, sure of the strength and the support of the community. As Catholic parishes become larger or are drawn into clusters of parishes that share pastoral leadership, the implications of such value are certain to become more apparent and of greater importance.