Dear Fr. Zagloba,
You’re right, father, rebuilding trust takes time. It won’t happen overnight. However, the first thing to focus on is to help people see where we are going, together, as a parish.
VISION, VISION, VISION, VISION, VISION
The key to all of this is that people need to see where you are leading them. Think of how obvious God made it for the Israelites when He lead them by a pillar of cloud in the daytime and a pillar of flame at night. They knew the drill. If the pillar moved, they moved. If it stopped, they stopped.
You don’t have the benefit of a giant flaming pillar, so you’re going to have to paint the picture yourself, in your homilies and announcements.
Think of these five steps as a road map that will lead to a revitalized parish.
1 – Start with the “Big Vision.”
Our parish is our little corner of the Kingdom of God. It is a place of encounter between the King of Creation and a hungry world.
Therefore, I suggest we focus on the mission of the Church which is to baptize, to make disciples of the nations, and to instruct them in living as Jesus commanded.
By doing so, you get everyone fired up about the supernatural incredibleness of the life of faith. You demonstrate to your parishioners their important roles of making that life of faith a reality, right here, right now, in our community.
2 – Nurture the vision that brings people together.
Getting people involved in the upkeep of the parish will allow you to spend more time doing things only you can do by virtue of your office as priest and pastor.
Take for example the different clubs we presently have.
We need a “Handyman Club” to track the repairs of the church and to solicit bids from professionals and craftsmen.
We need a garden club to mow the grass, flower the beds, weed the lawn, and make beautiful the landscape.
There are many other clubs and committees to help keep the parish running with the same purpose: to help you focus on shepherding your flock to Christ.
You need these because you cannot be mowing the lawn when you could be weeding souls in the confessional. Let the garden club do what they do best, make the entranceway beautiful while you do what you do best, beautify the souls of our community.
3 – Lay out the vision of all the short-term work to be done.
Let’s start with the BIG 3 ISSUES and then move down the list. The roof is first, then the potholes in the parking lot, then renovating the bathrooms. We can discuss the order of these three priorities with the Pastoral Council along with other input they have.
Also, I recommend you select a few SMALL ISSUES like touching up the paint on the wall next to the confessional which can be quick wins. These are small but can be quick wins. They are small, visible projects that won’t take a HUGE amount of money, but once completed, they will encourage the parish that things are happening.
A big part of building trust is delivering on the promises you make.