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Strengths in the Faith Community

The essential concepts contained in strengths development are simple and have the potential for profound impact in our pastoral practice. We find ourselves building on what is the best about each person, what is positive, rather than dwelling on what is not; we find freedom to be ourselves, to trust each other, 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 connection between strengths and engagement. In fact, one of the transformative aspects of engagement is that this research-verified dynamic of communal life is expressed as a feelingor a sense. People know engagement when they feelit or senseit; 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, particularly when they find that it is hoped and expected that every person will give of her- or himself as a good steward of the talents she or he has been given.

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 predisposed 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.