Finding our core vocations

If you had to draw up a list of what makes St. James unique, what would you put on it? Then, looking over your list, what things would you say we can point to with pride, and what things might we wish were different?

That, in a nutshell, is what the clergy of the diocese spent last Wednesday and Thursday talking about during out annual clergy conference. We explored the idea of “core vocations” for our individual congregations.

Try as we might, churches really can’t be all things to all people. Rather, we must identify what we are most deeply passionate about, then allow the energy generated around these clearly articulated ministries to inspire people to give their time, energy and financial resources to the church.

There’s a three-step process for doing this. Step One is to determine what really matters to us. What would you put in that category for the people of St. James? Which of our ministries to you believe we really care about? To get at that, we might ask:

·      “What do we do well?”

·      “What are multiple people willing to commit their time and energy to?”

·      “How does a given ministry serve the wider community, so that if St. James disappeared, it would leave a hole that could not easily be filled?” 

Step Two is saying “no” to ministries that pull us away from our core vocations. Where do we fritter away time, talent and treasure that could be put to better use elsewhere? Where do we need to employ more discipline?

Step Three is evaluating, strengthening and ending some ministries. So what ministries here would you say are not really bearing fruit? How might we end them? Which are bearing good fruit, and what steps might we take to “prune” them so as to bear more fruit?

I, of course, have my own set of priorities, but if my priorities don’t align with the congregation’s, then little will be accomplished. Throughout my eight months here, I’ve been trying to listen closely, to see and hear what the people of St. James really care about.

Let me invite you to ponder this, and share your thoughts with me. What really matters at St. James? What would you, personally, be willing to invest energy and financial resources in? And what would you not miss at all if it went away? Then, let’s all keep building St. James into the parish Christ calls us to be.