Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles by Dan Ebener on leadership in the Catholic Church. They are excerpts from his latest book, “Pastoral Leadership: How to Lead in a Catholic Parish,” published by Paulist Press and the Villanova University Center for Church Management.
The pastor concluded, “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
The people replied, “Thanks be to God.”
The end of each Mass is a new beginning. As the people of God, we are welcomed at the beginning of each Mass to “come and see” (John 1:39 and John 1:46) as disciples, members and stewards. By the end of the liturgy, we are beckoned to “go and tell” (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 14:23) as apostles, leaders and evangelists.
The dismissal at the end of each Mass is a call to leadership. We are sent forth to love, serve and evangelize the world. It is an invitation to live like disciples (who are “called forth”) and to lead like apostles (who are “sent forth”).
Many people would love to join a parish full of joyful, lively enthusiasm for Christ. Research shows that people long for a sense of purpose and connectivity. They want to know they are making a difference on something that matters. They want to be connected to people who are making that difference.
The Catholic Church needs leaders who can breathe new life into our parishes. Such leadership can emerge from anywhere. The church needs leadership because we need “adaptive change,” that which cannot happen with an easy fix.
What kind of adaptive change? Spiritual revitalization of the heart and minds of our people. A deeper sense of lay engagement and conscious participation. Joyful celebrations of the liturgy. A warmer sense of hospitality. A burning passion for the mission of Jesus. A clearer vision of the Kingdom of God. Dialogue about what matters most.
These are challenges in search of leadership. Challenges seek leaders. Leaders seek challenges. We need servant leaders to take up these challenges.
Dr. Dan R. Ebener teaches courses in leadership, strategic planning, dialogical skills, conflict resolution, team-building and people skills at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.