December 2012: Is Parish Planning for You?

In this Issue

Opening Remarks

Is your parish hesitating about engaging in a planning process? Senior Consultants John Reid and Lucien Roy provide six reasons why it’s a good idea.

At The Reid Group, we have a passion for helping leaders and organizations transform their challenges into opportunities to create a better world. One of the ways we do that is through this e-letter, Transforming Challenges. Is there someone you know who could benefit from receiving it? Forward this edition to them and encourage them to subscribe for themselves. They’ll thank you—and so do we!

The Reid Group News

  • The Reid Group has a new strategic partner in REALM, an organization that provides important health care services for religious communities.
  • Carol Guenther and John Reid have been asked for the third time to teach Paving the Road to Peace June 24-28, 2013 at Seattle University. To sign up, call School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle U at 206-296-3330. You can audit or take the course for credit.
  • Sacred Heart Medical Center in the Providence Spokane service area has hired The Reid Group to conduct a search for the Program Manager of Clinical Pastoral Education.
  • As we move toward Christmas, we give thanks for all our clients in the past 15 years and wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us ane-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.

Quotes for Inspiration and Action

Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.
Winston Churchill

Violence is not merely killing another. It is violence when we use a sharp word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey because there is fear. So violence isn’t merely organized butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper, and we are inquiring into the very depths of violence.
Jiddu Krishnamurti

Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all the things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.
Rosaleen Dickson

Feature Focus

5 Tips for Renewing Your Organization


John Reid, Senior Consultant,
The Reid Group

Lucien Roy, Senior Consultant,
The Reid Group

If your parish is considering a planning process but is uncertain about its value, here are six reasons to consider moving ahead.

Parish planning provides an opportunity to meet and greet like-minded people from your parish you might not know or know well.

Parishes are usually a cluster of small communities focused on shared interests: the Mass they attend, they sing in the choir, their kids are in the parish school, etc. In our experience we have found that they are glad to have the chance to make new connections, discover similar interests and in the process strengthen their sense of community.

Parish planning provides a chance to engage in open discussion on topics important for your parish with people who agree, or who see it differently.

In our process we use three leadership retreats where the participants develop a draft of the parish plan. In each of these retreats, we let people pick two-three hot topics and set up a discussion. Sometimes this takes the form of a panel with representatives from different points of view. Among the topics common to many parishes is the divide between parents with kids in the school and parents whose kids go to public school but participate in the parish religious education program.

Parish planning empowers communities to arrive at a clear and shared sense of direction for their future that are worth the time and effort.

During the planning process, all of the participants work together on a mission statement and prioritizing the parish values. Because often none of this material existed before, participants have the experience of creating something out of nothing. One exercise we use to help people clarify varying opinions is to have everyone position themselves along a spectrum ranging from active objection to enthusiastic agreement. This provides a graphic illustration of where points of agreement and disagreement are.

Successful parish planning leads to a sense of accomplishment regarding shared goals and objectives that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, and achievable with Responsibilities identified within a Time frame.

Parishioners know they have created something out of nothing. By the end of the retreats, they see a consensus emerge that they share with the whole parish. And in the end, they see a printed plan of action. This builds not only a sense of accomplishment but also creates momentum and enthusiasm.

Parish planning provides a special opportunity to reach out to the marginalized in your parish. They may be thinking of leaving, or have already left. Special focus groups for these people may help them reconsider their decisions.

This is often one of those hot topics mentioned above. Special focus groups for those who have left the parish or feel marginalized in some other way (members with no children, young people, etc.) can provide valuable input to the planning process.

Parish planning leads to a deeper realization of the dynamics that impact the lived reality of the Paschal Mystery in the parish: the recognition that new life comes out of loss, change, conflict and faith.

For many, the planning process creates a sense of transformation and fosters deeper spirituality. Usually when parishes feel they need a parish plan, it is because things have changed: demographic changes in the neighborhood, ethnic changes, or economic disruptions. They confront the question: Are we organized in the best way to meet these new needs? As they consider that question, they often feel a sense of loss for all the things that have gone away. The planning process helps them to examine that loss, to accept it eventually and to ask new questions: What are the new possibilities opening up for us? How can we take advantage of these changes to realign our priorities and resources?




The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life
Laurie Beth Jones

The author of Jesus, CEO combines powerful spiritual insight and inspirational, practical advice on how to achieve one’s highest goals and potential in business and in life, discussing the three key elements of a successful mission statement and explaining how to fulfill a mission.





Recreating the Parish: Reproducible Resources for Pastoral Ministers
Carl M. Holden, Thomas P.Sweetser, Mary Beth Vogel

Here, from the staff of the Parish Evaluation Project (PEP), is a helpful resource for pastors, staff and lay leaders filled with reproducible worksheets, checklists, case studies and insights for making that next staff session, council meeting, commission night or parish assembly an effective experience. These exercises have been used successfully with a wide variety of parishes and pastoral groups in connection with the Parish Evaluation Project. Topics include planning, leadership, management, collaboration, decision-making, conflict and stress management, and evaluation tools.


Feature 2

Thoughts for the End of the Year

Tom Reid, Senior Consultant

Is another year gone already? You bet, and the new year is just around the corner so this is no time to rest on your laurels. We have four thoughts to offer to maximize your rest and recuperation and to prepare for hitting the ground running in 2013.

In real estate, the watchword is location, location, location. In writing, it’s write, rewrite and rewrite . . . In Fund Development, the key is relationship, relationship, relationship. Who are your best three supporters? When is your next scheduled outreach (call, lunch, visit)?

Engage and Discover
In our experience, a common mistake of those seeking funds is that they talk too much. The art of asking questions is the key to building donor relationships. Make it a rule to talk less and ask more–you’ll discover much more valuable information about the donor’s interests.

Be yourself
You don’t have to put on your “fund-raising persona.” Just relax and be yourself. Tell your own story: why you are involved with this organization and why the impact of its work is important to you.

Invite people to consider the opportunity to join the team and be part of the solution.

Now, take the rest of the year off and put this on your desk for January 2, 2013. If you need a partner in fundraising, contact Tom at The Reid Group, 206-432-3565,


The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning

Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.

Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from


And that’s it for this month. Look for Transforming Challenges next month–and until then, have a good day and a great week.
Kathy Johnson, Editor
Transforming Challenges
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