This webinar features New York Times best-selling author Pat Lencioni. In this webinar, we address the common traits of thriving teams in parishes across North America. You’ll also hear from pastors who want you to learn both from their failed efforts and from the secrets they found to help them on their successful journey toward becoming amazing.

 

Questions Asked During Webinar

Hymns

What do you say to strict orthodox folks who think that focusing on making the homily or the music better belittles the Mass... that nothing matters except the sacrifice of the Mass... Jesus in the Eucharist.

It’s because of the Real Presence that the other parts of the Mass should be excellent. Great homilies, warm hospitality and quality music don’t belittle the Mass. They direct attention to the Eucharist.

Want to make a change in the music area, but having a difficult time identifying music director candidates. Where can a parish turn to find candidates?

Some parishes have filled staff vacancies via CatholicJobs.com. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students has an internal job board, so you might give them a call. Or, perhaps you can find a local community group for musicians.

Leadership Team

Does the whole Leadership Team need to be on that homily team?

The homily team may or may not include individuals from the leadership team. They key is that it consists of just enough people (it may only be a couple people) who are adept at understanding and communicating to the pastor/preaching deacon how homilies can be improved so that they are delivered passionately in an organized manner, understandable liguistically and theologically, and relevant to the parishioners. 

At what point do you realize you picked the wrong people for your leadership team?

Usually where there’s smoke, there’s fire. A pastor can rely on his gut and intuition. That said, when a leadership team member cannot overcome his or her temptation to place individual concerns and departmental priorities over those of the team, then it’s time to make a change.

Greetings from Ontario,Canada! How do you measure the success of a leadership team?

The success of a leadership team is measured by the collective results of the team, and those results are most likely to occur when the team is grounded in vulnerability-based trust, engaged in healthy conflict in the pursuit of truth, committed as a team to the decisions made by the team, and accountable to each other.

Hi! How do the Leadership Team and the Parish Council work together? Thank you.

It’s important to remember that a parish leadership team is rarely the same as a parish council. And it is not necessarily the parish office staff, the people who do bookkeeping, reception and other administrative functions. It is the group of leaders who the pastor will rely on to help him with strategic and operational decisions and implementation. Though each team will be a little different, members of many parish leadership teams will often be comprised of people with the following titles: Director of Religious Education, Business or Operations Management, Youth Ministry, Faith Formation, Evangelization, Administration or School Principal. Again, every parish is different. However, every team member must not only have the right title, but the right attitude and skill set. Together, these titles, attitudes, and skill sets should all understand roles and work together for the common goals for the parish.

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Before a team member is replaced, it’s important for that individual to have a clear sense of their role going forward, how they fit into the parish, how they are valuable to the overall parish efforts, and how they can make a positive impact in the life of the parish. The issue is rarely that they aren’t an important cog in the wheel, it’s just that they don’t fit quite right as a leadership team member. Make sure everyone on the team understands and buys-in to the decision. Then, when a new team member is identified, make sure that individual has a clear understanding of what is expected of them as a member of the leadership team.

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It can be hard for some to “take off their hat” and focus on the big picture, or Thematic Goal. The Leadership Team should all understand and work toward common goals, recognizing that everyone is held accountable for the success of the parish. While this concept is harder for some than for others, consistent clarification on the role of the leadership team (over individual department concerns) is good for everyone.

What does a positive relationship between the Leadership Team and the staff look like?

A positive relationship between the parish staff and the parish leadership team is seen in the way they communicate and interact with each other. It’s important that the leadership team’s goals and priorites are clearly articulated to the staff as they will be the ones helping to implement them.

Also, what if many people on staff or leadership team think everything is ok but you have heard from parishioners that it's not.?

It’s a bit of a tricky question because not all parishioner complaints are legitimate. If you feel the concern is legitimate, you need to bring the issue to the attention of the leadership team so they can weigh it.

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A parish is like any organization in that some standard operating procedures exist and always will. A parish has to pay the bills, maintain the facilites, minister to those in need, evaluate and select curriculum, etc. Staff will always be engaged in those activities, and sometimes they’ll be deeply involved in helping the leadership team with the Rallying Cry of the parish, the single most important thing that needs done in the next 3 months to a year.

What is the best recommendation for a Pastor to choose who he selects for the Leadership Team?

He should select those who he knows will place the needs of the parish and the team above individual needs, those who he knows will push to have a better parish, those who he believes can be vulnerable to the group, those who are willing to engage in conflict around ideas rather than people, and those in whom he can place the utmost confidence.

Leadership Team / Parish Council

Is the pastor's leadership team announced to the parish? Doesn't another layer of leadership potentially cause conflict with Pastoral Council, Finance Council, etc.?

When the role of the parish leadership team is clearly communicated, the Pastoral Council and the Finance Council will value the role it plays. It’s a focus of leadership (led by the pastor and accompanied by a handful of specific team members) to ensure that the parish is progressing toward the realization of collective results that benefit everyone. Being on the leadership is not a perk; it’s a responsibility to the parish community.

What is the interaction between the leadership team and the Pastoral Council? How do you prevent jealousy or taking away the purpose of the PC?

If the parish were a corporation, the Pastoral Council would be akin to the Board of Directors and the leadership team would be similar to the key executives to make sure the organization was fulfilling its mission. That mission is certainly influenced by the Board of Directors. The two groups work in tandem for the health of the organization.

Meetings

Does the Pastor always lead the Leadership Team Meeting?

The pastor is always the leader of the team. He cannot abdicate that responsibility. However, if someone on the team is more effective at leading meetings, it’s perfectly fine to have that individual facilitate discussions.

For the regular meeting, who is the one responsible for color code the issue need to talk about, is Pastor?

As Pat mentioned on the webinar, it’s importatnt to have the whole team weigh in on each goal and how they feel it’s progressing. You can typically guage where something is based on the responses you get. Ultimately it is up to the pastor to determine if an objective is on course (green), moving along but a bit unclear (yellow), or needs a lot of work (red).

How do you have weekly meetings if your leadership team includes non-staff with full time jobs?

Although weekly meetings are ideal, it is not mandatory. Plan to hold the leadership team meeting at least every other week and consider a week night or even a weekend. Did we mention that weekly meetings are the ideal?

Is the weekly leadership meeting not the same as the staff meeting?

To hear Pat speak more about this, view the webinar by clicking here: https://vimeo.com/216055609 and forward to the 32 minute mark.

Our staff personnel are the same as the leadership team. We do one a week, and blend the two. Is that okay?

It’s not typical, but the entire leadership team might be the same as the entire staff. When that’s the case, just be sure to separate tactical meetings from strategic meetings. Blending leadership team and staff meetings can work, but combining tactical and strategic discussions is a prescription for meeting stew. 

What are some best practices for good leadership team meetings?

First of all, we highly recommend that you get a copy of Pat Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting. In the book, Pat covers how to make meetings more engaging and productive. According to Pat, “meetings are ineffective because they lack contextual structure. To make our meetings more effective, we need to have multiple types of meetings, and clearly distinguish between the various purposes, formats, and timing of those meetings.” To learn more about having good team meetings, watch this video: https://amazingparish.org/engaging-meetings/.

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It sounds like you have a large parish, and if your current meeting structure is working, then by all means keep it up. One word of caution would be this: Make sure that in addition to discussing the larger goals you reference, your Parish Leadership Team is also holding itself accountable for tangible results, not just goal creation.

What to do when a previously determined high priority item never gets discussed anymore?

It can be easy to loose sight of priorites when you don’t have a good system for meetings in place. This is why creating a thematic goal sheet is really important, because it forces you to put all of the priorities in writing. Everytime your leadership team gathers for a meeting, take out the thematic goal sheet and assess each priority. Then the pastor, with the help of his leadership team, can determine which items are or are no longer priorities. If a previously high priority item no longer carries the same weight as it once did (in the eyes of the leadership team), then set it aside and focus on the new, high priority items.

Many action items result from the Leadership Team meetings. How to keep people motivated to follow through?

The best motivation for follow through is team and one-on-one accountability.

Sensitive topics are discussed at the Leadership Team meetings. We want to report what goes on so people know we're active and to get them excited. How can we report the happenings without disclosing the sensitive topics?

Great question! At the end of each leadership meeting take just a few minutes to discuss what will be shared with the staff, what will be shared with the parishioners, and what will be kept confidential and stay within the leadership team. It also just takes a few minutes to make sure everyone on the leadership team is delivering the messaging consistently.

Pastor

What if the pastor seems to feel AP is a good program but is reluctant or unable to lead the AP team?

First…pray. Then…pray some more. Finally, someone on the team who the pastor trusts needs to respectfully ask the pastor to explain his hesitancy. If he truly believes the AP methodology leads to healthy organization, he will want to do it. Some pastors may think a leadership team will create more work for him. The truth is that no pastor can “do it” on his own, and a well-functioning parish leadership team will help refine and carry out the pastor’s vision for the parish.

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Be patient and make sure your pastor knows you only want to support him. Pray with him that the Spirit would direct the team and lead the team in the ways that will most impact your geographical parish. Ask for boldness and courage and above all obedience. Tackle some smaller goals first, and the more ambitious ones will follow.

How do you get your pastor moving? We have been to the amazing parish conference, he understands the concept and agrees, but seems to have things come up day to day that prevent him from forming his team.

Holding each other accountable is a big part of the Amazing Parish Model. Accountability is the willingness of team members to remind one another when they are not living up to the performance standards of the group. The key to this kind of accountability is that it shouldn’t always require the participation of the team leader. It is direct, peer-to-peer accountability, and it is based on the notion that peer pressure and the distaste for letting down a colleague will motivate a team player more than any fear of authoritative punishment or rebuke. It is necessary, as hard as it might be, to push your pastor to be accountable for forming the Leadership Team. This is a big step, but holding him accountable, getting the leadership team made, and starting to have valuable meetings will in turn free him from many of the “day-to-day” things that come up.

Prayer

Do you think that adding praying intentionally for our priest's homilies is a good idea?

Yes, that is absolutey a great prayer intention. In addition, we would encouarage your parish to start a homilies team in order to assist him, other priests and deacons in writing and delivering effective and engaging homilies.

How often should we meet as a team to pray? We already have a monthly Leadership Night in which, we meet as staff at 4pm, then 5pm Supper, 6pm Commissions, 7:30 pm Parish Council

Sounds like your team is already off to a good start. We also encourage you to expand your prayer to a weekly activity, just as a team, even if it’s saying the chaplet or a rosary right before your team meeting.

Request for Resources

What is the contact number to call Mr. Matt?

303-481-4319

Do you have any resources specific to parishes that have schools? It is our largest ministry, and I am curious if you have any best practices on how to include the school in the Amazing Parish model.

We’re so glad to hear that you recognize your school is a huge ministry opportunity. We’ve seen a few situations where a parish school operated so efficiently that the principle had time (and interest) to serve on the parish leadership team. Typically though, they have their own excessive time demands. In any case, the school should understand the direction of the parish. A specific resource for school principles is AP Online as most of the modules will translate from parishes to schools. Healthy organizational truths apply to schools too.

Which video best describes using a color coded dashboard?

Pat does a session specically on meetings where he covers creating a thematic goal and how to use the color coding system. You can view that video here: https://vimeo.com/172326802

Is there any help for international parishes?

All of our resources are available worldwide. As of now, we don’t have any international conferences planned, but you’re welcome to attend a conference here in the U.S.

Sunday Experience

How do we engage people at Mass without entertaining them?

Hospitality, homilies, singable music, and of course the Eucharist all engage parishioners and visitors. It goes a long way when the pastor says “we’re not here to entertain you, we’re here so that you can engage with Jesus Himself.” When the hospitality, the homily and the music deliver the same message, it’s a beautiful thing.

Other

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An insightful question from a Lions fan. It is interesting that Aaron Rodgers credited “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” with turning his season around last year.

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